Republicans beat 15-term Rep. Collin Peterson in Minnesota

Republicans beat 15-term Rep. Collin Peterson in Minnesota

Democrats drove Wednesday toward extending their control of the House for two more years but with a potentially shrunken majority as they lost at least six incumbents and failed to oust any Republican lawmakers in initial returns.

By 4 a.m. EST, Democrats’ only gains were two North Carolina seats vacated by GOP incumbents after a court-ordered remapping made the districts more Democratic. Though they seemed likely to retain House control, their performance was an unexpected disappointment for the party, which hoped for modest gains of perhaps 15 seats.

After decades of trying, Republicans defeated 15-term Rep. Collin Peterson from a rural Minnesota district that backed President Donald Trump in 2016 by 31 percentage points, Mr. Trump’s biggest margin in any Democratic-held district. Mr. Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, opposed Mr. Trump’s impeachment and is one of the House’s most conservative Democrats. He was defeated by Republican Michelle Fischbach, the former Lieutenant Governor.

Also losing were freshmen Democrats Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala, Health Secretary under President Bill Clinton, in adjacent South Florida districts where Mr. Trump seemed to consolidate support among Cuban voters. Others defeated were Democratic freshmen Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico and Kendra Horn in Oklahoma, who had surprising victories in 2018 in districts Trump carried decisively in 2016.

The fight for Ms. Torres Small’s seat cost around $35 million, making it one of the country’s most expensive races. She was defeated by Yvette Herrell, a former state legislator.

Before votes were counted, both parties’ operatives said the GOP would be fortunate to limit Democratic gains to a modest single digits. Democrats control the House 232-197, with five open seats and one independent. It takes 218 seats to control the chamber. A smaller majority would make it tougher for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to unite her lawmakers as a handful of progressive freshmen arrive for the new Congress.