The most surprising — and least surprising — thing about the 2018 midterms is that we were aware of almost this exact outcome at the start of the cycle.

The big picture: The incumbents who lost were mostly predictable because they were the most vulnerable all long: House Republican incumbents in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and red-state Democratic senators in Trump country.

Expand chart
Expand chart
Graphic: Aïda Amer/Axios

By the numbers: After the 2018 midterm elections, 20 House Republican incumbents lost their seats to a Democrat. Of those, 10 were in Clinton-won districts, while 9 were incumbents who Republicans had previously said were in competitive, coin-flip races.

And two were genuine surprises — Mia Love in Utah, who appeared headed for a loss, and Dan Donovan in New York, who has officially been defeated.

  • President Trump won the state of Utah by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016, and zero Republicans I talked to throughout the cycle ever mentioned Love's name when discussing which members were in danger.
  • Donovan was New York City's last House Republican in the state's 11th district, which Trump won by 10 percentage points in 2016 and which Cook Political Report rated as "lean Republican." Even Democrats were texting me on election night in disbelief of his loss.
  • Three red-state Democratic senators lost their re-election bid, and all voted against Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Nevada Sen. Dean Heller was always considered the most vulnerable Republican senator. He had an on-again-off-again relationship with the president, and he was the only GOP senator defending a seat in a state that Clinton won.
  • Both Republican governors who lost were in for a reckoning as their states' politics and demographics have shifted, and they've both faced serious challengers in the past.

The bottom line: Trump focused most of his time on Republicans running for Senate and governor, leaving many House GOP incumbents out to dry in 2018. And national events (like the Supreme Court fight) were too big to overcome for Democrats in red states.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - World

At least 100 killed, much of Beirut destroyed in massive explosion

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion Beirut, Lebanon has killed at least 100 people and injured over 4,000, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.

Driving the news: Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosions occurred at a warehouse that had been storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for over six years.

Biden confidants see VP choices narrowing to Harris and Rice

Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images

Confidants of Joe Biden believe his choices for vice president have narrowed to Sen. Kamala Harris and Susan Rice — and would be surprised if he picks anyone else.

The state of play: This is a snapshot of the nearly unanimous read that we get from more than a dozen people close to him.

An election like no other

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus will make the 2020 presidential election different from any in modern history: Voting that begins earlier, results that take longer, mail carriers as virtual poll workers and October Surprises that pop in September.

The big picture: Perhaps 80 million Americans will vote early, by mail or in person, Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, tells Axios. That's going to set up more of an Election Season than an Election Day — and increase the odds of national turmoil over the vote count.