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Blue wave fading fast for Democrats

Democratic hopes for a big blue wave in the House are beginning to fade, as Republicans are projected to hold on to tightly-contested races in Florida and Virginia.

The party needs a net gain of 23 seats to win the majority, something that remains within reach.

But as of 9:40 p.m., Democrats had only gained two seats, with networks projecting that Jennifer Wexton would defeat Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) in a critical race in the Washington suburbs, and that Democrat Donna Shalala would defeat Republican Elvira Salazar in a fight to win an open seat vacated by retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R).

Both Shalala and Wexton were favored to win their races, as the two districts were both won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 over President Trump.

Republicans were projected to hold three other races where Democrats had hoped to make gains in Florida. But Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is clinging to a razor-thin lead over Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) in the Miami-area district. Curbelo has been a major target for Democrats in a seat that Clinton won by double-digits.

And in a key race in Kentucky, Rep. Andy Barr (R) was projected to defeat Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired fighter pilot. The suburban Lexington district was viewed as an early predicator of Democrats' performance in these redder districts and whether a blue wave was on the horizon.

In Virginia, Republican Denver Riggleman was projected to defeat Democrat Leslie Cockburn in another race where Democrats had hoped to make gains.

But two key suburban Virginia seats remain nail-biters as the remainder of results trickle in. Rep. Scott Taylor (R) is tied with Democrat Elaine Luria, while Reps. Dave Brat (R) is tied with former CIA operative Abigail Spanberger (D). Democrats have been banking on anti-Trump backlash delivering them wins in districts like Virginia's 2nd and 7th Districts.

The early results led a number of commentators, including CNN's Jake Tapper, to state that the blue wave Democrats had hoped to ride was not coming in.

Democratic strategist James Carville, speaking on MSNBC's election special, said that while it could still be a good election for Democrats, it would not be a "wave election."

But Democrats' hopes for a House takeover are still alive as polls in western states like California are at least an hour away from closing. Democrats see California as a major part of their path to victory in the House. They feel optimistic about their chances in five of the GOP-held seats Clinton won in 2016.

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