MINOT, N.D. — Election nights typically aren't fun nights for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL.
If we look at the statewide results (I'm writing this well past midnight, with about 60% of the vote counted) it was a bloodbath. Every single Republican won in a landslide. The top vote-getter for the Democrats among the executive branch candidates was Mark Haugen, who ran for treasurer and is so socially conservative he'd likely be a Republican in any other state.
He currently has just over 34% of the vote.
The two top-of-the-ticket candidates for the Democratic-NPL — gubernatorial candidate Shelley Lenz and U.S. House candidate Zach Raknerud — both failed to get even 30% of the vote.
But as ugly as the statewide numbers are for the Democrats, how their candidates performed in the Legislature is downright hideous.
Most political observers expected the North Dakota Republican Party to lose at least a couple of seats. They picked up some seats in some left-leaning parts of the state in 2016, and it seemed a given that the party might give some of those back.
Everyone I spoke to said the Democrats had nowhere to go but up. They couldn't possibly do much worse.
Except it seems they did.
In District 12, where all the votes have been counted, Republican Cole Conley has unseated incumbent Democratic-NPL Sen. John Grabinger.
In District 26, where the counting is also complete, Republican Jason Heitkamp has upset incumbent Democratic-NPL Sen. Jim Dotzenrod.
There are still votes to count in District 24, but as I write this there doesn't appear to be enough votes left for Democratic-NPL Sen. Larry Robinson come back against Republican challenger Mike Wobbema. The latter is leading the former 59% to 39%.
Counting Robinson as a loss for the Democrats, that cuts their Senate presence from 10 down to 7 out of 47 total.
The Democrats appear to have lost ground in the House as well. In District 20, the Democratic-NPL has lost Rep. Richard Holman's seat. Republicans Mike Beltz and Jared Hagert have won the district's two House seats (Holman didn't run for re-election and the other incumbent, Rep. Aaron McWilliams, was defeated in the primary).
That would take the Democratic-NPL House minority down to 14 out of 94.
And it may yet get worse.
In District 18, Democratic-NPL incumbent Corey Mock has just a .19-point lead over Republican challenger Cindy Kaml, a margin so narrow it will probably trigger a recount (incumbent Republican Steve Vetter was the top vote-getter in the district).
Again, some of this may change. There are still votes to count, and it's been a topsy-turvy year, but at this point I think it's safe to say that the North Dakota Democratic-NPL will be losing some of their already minuscule influence in Bismarck.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.