Dems Post Modest Gains in House Races, but GOP Projected to Keep Control

PHOTO: Todd Young, accompanied by his wife Jenny, celebrates beating Evan Bayh for a seat in the Indiana senate at an election night rally in Indianapolis, Nov. 8, 2016.PlayMichael Conroy/AP
WATCH Republicans Projected to Retain Control of the House

Republicans are projected to hold on to control of the House of Representatives, but Democrats are projected to make single-digit gains, chipping away at the GOP's 247-seat majority, the party's largest since 1928.

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But even with the Democrats picking up a handful of seats, Republicans maintained a strong firewall, even in districts where they feared moderate voters would oust GOP candidates.

ABC projected the House would stay in Republican hands around 8:35 p.m., including in our calculation several seats in districts with later poll-closing times, which our analysts believe will not affect the outcome. As of Wednesday morning, Republicans were projected to come away with 235 seats and Democrats 194, with 6 seats undecided. Democrats had thus far picked up a net of seven seats, and Republicans current 247-member majority got 12 members smaller.

GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock won re-election by double digits in her Northern Virginia district full of suburban women, even though Republican strategists said last week that they would be satisfied with a single-digit win there.

In Florida, Republicans held on to Rep. Carlos Curbelo's seat in Miami, which was at the top of Democrats' wish list this year, and won a toss-up race in the Fort Lauderdale area that will send to Washington Brian Mast, an Afghanistan War veteran and double amputee.

The GOP also held strong in Denver's suburban 6th Congressional District, where Republican Rep. Mike Coffman taught himself Spanish and still works with a tutor to help him connect with the large Hispanic population there.

Despite the Democrats' modest gains in the House, the even slight reduction in the Republican majority in the chamber will likely make it harder for House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to persuade his members to compromise, as a larger ratio of GOP members will be hard-line conservatives.

"We need to have a healthy majority and a strong majority," he recently told The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. "If we have a razor-thin majority, then every vote can be problematic. Every vote on everything can be difficult."

Democrats needed a nearly clean sweep of competitive districts to reach the 218 seats necessary to regain the majority of the chamber. Just 17 races were toss-ups, according to an ABC News analysis of House races.

ABC News' Ben Siegel contributed to this report.

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