Democrats are poised to regain control of the US House of Representatives, a momentous win in the midterm elections that will enable the party to block much of Donald Trump’s agenda and bombard the president with investigations, The Guardian reports.
As results came in from across the country on Tuesday night, the midterms were a tale of two chambers: the Democrats won key House congressional races while Republicans expanded their majority in the United States Senate.
The election has served as a referendum on the direction of America under Trump’s stewardship, and whether Republicans should remain in absolute power in Washington.
Democrats needed to flip 23 seats to take control of the House of Representatives, and looked set to surpass the 218 needed to win back the chamber from Republicans, breaking one-party rule in Congress after eight years.
“Thanks to you tomorrow will be a new day in America,” she said.
Earlier in the evening, the White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, sought to downplay Democratic gains, saying: “Maybe you get a ripple, but I certainly don’t think that there’s a blue wave.”
But Democrats racked up upsets across the country. Incumbent Randy Hultgren lost a traditionally Republican suburban district to Lauren Underwood, a 31-year-old African American nurse who ran a campaign focused on healthcare. Military veteran Max Rose pulled off an upset in a conservative district on Staten Island in New York, and the deep red state of Oklahoma elected Democrat Kendra Horn to a district centered around Oklahoma City.
Elsewhere, Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland made history by becoming the first Native American women elected to Congress and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York became the first woman in her 20s to win a seat and was joined by 29-year-old Abby Finkenauer in Iowa.
However, Republican control of the Senate will allow it to block House-passed Democratic initiatives on everything from healthcare to the potential repeal of tax cuts. And while Democratic results in the House showed signs of being the forecast “blue wave”, there were also disappointing losses in the Senate and the failure to win key governor’s offices in states like Florida and Ohio.
The elections carry significant ramifications for what remains of Trump’s first term.
With a majority in the House, Democrats are expected to launch a flurry of investigations into the president and his administration. The White House’s legal team is reportedly bracing for potential inquiries that include whether Trump obstructed justice in the Russia investigation, the misuse of taxpayer dollars by several cabinet officials, and hush money paid to women to keep silent about their alleged affairs with Trump before he was elected president.
The Democratic victory would also stonewall much of Trump’s agenda. Republicans have vowed to pursue further tax cuts and changes to popular government programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and social security. They have also pledged to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s healthcare law, should they remain in power.
The increased Republican majority in the Senate, however, will make it easier for Trump to continue to appoint judges and remake the nation’s judiciary branch in a more conservative mold.
Four Democratic incumbents lost in the Senate. Three-term incumbent Bill Nelson of Florida lost a tight race to the state’s governor Rick Scott, while two-term Democrat Claire McCaskill lost her re-election bid in Missouri.
Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota – two Democrats who won in deep red states with Obama at the top of the ticket in 2012 – also lost their re-election bids. All four voted against the controversial confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the supreme court.
In one of the most closely watched races of the cycle, the Republican Texas senator Ted Cruz fended off an unexpectedly tough challenge from Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who inspired young voters and raised an unprecedented amount of money.
In Tennessee, the Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn emerged victorious in a contest that drew national attention after pop star Taylor Swift endorsed the Democratic candidate, Phil Bredesen.
Democrats were, however, able to breathe a small sigh of relief as Joe Manchin, another red-state Democrat, held on to his Senate seat in West Virginia, a state Trump won by 42 points in 2016. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and the Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, two other Democrats targeted by Republicans, were also re-elected.
Democrats had been defending 10 Senate seats in states that Trump largely won by double digits two years ago, rendering the battle to win back the upper chamber of Congress an uphill struggle that was ultimately lost.
Higher than usual turnout was reported across the country, where 36 governor’s contests reinforced the ramifications of what former president Barack Obama dubbed as perhaps “the most important election of our lifetimes”.
At least two deep blue states voted to re-elect moderate Republican governors who succeeded by distancing themselves from Trump. Larry Hogan defeated Ben Jealous, the former chairman of the NAACP, in Maryland, while popular incumbent Charlie Baker resoundingly won in Massachusetts.
Democrats nonetheless took several Republican-held governor’s offices: JB Pritzker, whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain, unseated the Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, in Illinois. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer flipped Michigan blue for the first time in eight years, defeating Republican challenger Bill Schuette. And in Kansas, voters rejected Republican Kris Kobach, a hardline immigration activist who cozied up to Trump, in favor of Democrat Laura Kelly.
However, the loss of Andrew Gillum in Florida marked a major disappointment for progressives.
Democrats have sought to cast the 2018 midterms as a referendum on Trump, whose tenure in the White House has left Americans sharply polarized and has been defined by chaos, tribalism and the shattering of norms.
While crisscrossing the country on behalf of Republican candidates, Trump’s closing argument largely consisted of stoking fears around a caravan of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America and headed toward the US-Mexico border. The president also repeatedly declared that Democrats, if elected, would lead a “socialist takeover” of America.
Although a number of Democratic heavyweights hit the trail to stump on behalf of candidates, including Obama, the narrative was still dominated by Trump and his freewheeling rhetoric.
As he said at a rally on Indiana on Monday: “The midterm elections used to be, like, boring. “Who ever heard of midterms? Now it’s, like, the hottest thing.”