Democrats seize House control, but Trump’s GOP holds Senate

People wait in line to vote at Cedar City offices, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 6, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (AP) — Democrats seized the House majority from President Donald Trump’s Republican Party on Tuesday in a suburban revolt that threatened what’s left of the president’s governing agenda. But the GOP gained ground in the Senate and preserved key governorships, beating back a “blue wave” that never fully materialized.

Read more: Southern Utah 2018 election results

The mixed verdict in the first nationwide election of Trump’s young presidency underscored the limits of his hardline immigration rhetoric in America’s evolving political landscape, where college-educated voters in the nation’s suburbs rejected his warnings of a migrant “invasion.”

Blue-collar voters and rural America embraced his aggressive talk and stances. The new Democratic House majority will end the Republican Party’s dominance in Washington for the final two years of Trump’s first term with major questions looming about health care, immigration and government spending.

But the Democrats’ edge in the House is narrow. With 218 seats needed for a majority, Democrats have won 219 and the Republicans 193, with winners undetermined in 23 races.

Trump was expected to address the results at a post-election news conference scheduled for midday Wednesday.

The president’s party will maintain control of the executive branch of the government, in addition to the Senate, but Democrats suddenly have a foothold that gives them subpoena power to probe deep into Trump’s personal and professional missteps — and his long-withheld tax returns.

“Tomorrow will be a new day in America,” declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who would be in line to become the next House speaker.

It could have been a much bigger night for Democrats, who suffered stinging losses in Ohio and in Florida, where Trump-backed Republican Ron DeSantis ended Democrat Andrew Gillum’s bid to become the state’s first African-American governor.

The 2018 elections also exposed an extraordinary political realignment in an electorate defined by race, gender, and education that could shape U.S. politics for years to come.

The GOP’s successes were fueled by a coalition that’s decidedly older, whiter, more male and less likely to have college degrees. Democrats relied more upon women, people of color, young people and college graduates.

Record diversity on the ballot may have helped drive turnout.

Women won at least 85 seats in the House, a record. The House was also getting its first two Muslim women, Massachusetts elected its first black congresswoman and Tennessee got its first female senator.

Three candidates had hoped to become their states’ first African-American governors, although just one – Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams – was still in the running.

Overall, women voted considerably more in favor of congressional Democratic candidates – with fewer than 4 in 10 voting for Republicans, according to VoteCast, a nationwide survey of more than 115,000 voters and about 20,000 nonvoters – conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

In suburban areas where key House races were decided, female voters skewed significantly toward Democrats by a nearly 10-point margin.

Democrats celebrated a handful of victories in their “blue wall” Midwestern states, electing or re-electing governors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and in Wisconsin, where Scott Walker was defeated by state education chief Tony Evers.

The road to a House majority ran through two dozen suburban districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Democrats flipped seats in suburban districts outside of Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago and Denver. Democrats also reclaimed a handful of blue-collar districts carried by both former President Barack Obama and Trump.

The results were more mixed deeper into Trump country.

In Kansas, Democrat Sharice Davids beat a GOP incumbent to become the first gay Native American woman elected to the House. But in Kentucky, one of the top Democratic recruits, retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, lost her bid to oust to three-term Rep. Andy Barr.

Trump sought to take credit for retaining the GOP’s Senate majority, even as the party’s foothold in the House was slipping.

“Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!” Trump tweeted.

History was working against the president in both the House and the Senate: The president’s party has traditionally suffered deep losses in the first midterm election, and 2002 was the only midterm election in the past three decades when the party holding the White House gained Senate seats.

Democrats’ dreams of the Senate majority, always unlikely, were shattered after losses in top Senate battlegrounds: Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, North Dakota and Texas.

Some hurt worse than others.

In Texas, Sen Ted Cruz staved off a tough challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke, whose record-smashing fundraising and celebrity have set off buzz he could be a credible 2020 White House contender.

Trump encouraged voters to view the 2018 midterms as a referendum on his leadership, pointing proudly to the surging economy at his recent rallies.

Nearly 40 percent of voters cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, according to AP VoteCast, the national survey of the electorate, while one-in-four said they voted to express support for Trump.

Overall, 6 in 10 voters said the country was headed in the wrong direction, but roughly that same number described the national economy as excellent or good. Twenty-five percent described health care and immigration as the most important issues in the election.

Nearly two-thirds said Trump was a reason for their vote.

The president bet big on a xenophobic closing message, warning of an immigrant “invasion” that promised to spread violent crime and drugs across the nation. Several television networks, including the president’s favorite Fox News Channel, yanked a Trump campaign advertisement off the air on the eve of the election, determining that its portrayal of a murderous immigrant went too far.

One of Trump’s most vocal defenders on immigration, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, lost his bid for governor.

Kobach had built a national profile as an advocate of tough immigration policies and strict voter photo ID laws. He served as vice chairman of Trump’s now-defunct commission on voter fraud.

The president found partial success despite his current job approval, set at 40 percent by Gallup, the lowest at this point of any first-term president in the modern era. Both Barack Obama’s and Bill Clinton’s numbers were 5 points higher, and both suffered major midterm losses of 63 and 54 House seats respectively.

Meanwhile, the close of the 2018 midterm season marked the unofficial opening of the next presidential contest.

Several ambitious Democrats easily won re-election, including presidential prospects Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. A handful of others played outsized roles in their parties’ midterm campaigns, though not as candidates, and were reluctant to telegraph their 2020 intentions before the 2018 fight was decided. They included New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Sen. Kamala Harris, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Said Warren: “This resistance began with women and it is being led by women tonight.”

Written by STEVE PEOPLES and JILL COLVIN, Associated Press. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Zeke Miller in Washington, Kantele Franko in Westerville, Ohio and Michael Kunzelman in Silver Spring, Maryland, contributed to this report.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • iceplant November 7, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Dems taking control of the House is exactly what everyone knew would happen. The Senate would have been nice but was a pipe dream from the get-go. No matter. We will no longer be under a one-party rule and that’s just the start. Now comes the real fun. Executing checks and balances, stopping the GOP from running roughshod over the country, removing scum like Devin Nunes from their positions of uselessness, and keeping this country from devolving into a fascist regime run by a lying wannabee despot buffoon. Can’t wait to see how the right spins this loss for Trump to his favor. I’m sure Hannity or Limbaugh will tell everyone how to react, though. 😉

    Oh, and, Republicans? Grab some popcorn and raise a cold one… it’s Mueller Time. Cheers!

    • bikeandfish November 7, 2018 at 9:15 am

      The gloating is a bit much. I am also content with the erosion of one paty control as I think that’s unhealthy for our federal government. Checks and balances help.

      I’ll take a short-lived sense of relief from that for a while. That said, in the long run, I believe its a negative indication of the Presidential election in 2020. The Senate races better representation the Electoral College process than the House and the RNC looks to have maintained the same amount of seats or gained. Plus, the optics of a fight between Trump and Pelosi favors Trump. His brand management is just far superior than hers and much of the DNC. Its going to get ugly given the fact he’s been campaigning since taking office (another unusual activity that highlights a leaning toward authoritarian tendencies). We’ll know in 2 years I guess.

      • iceplant November 7, 2018 at 10:14 am

        Gloating? Hardly.

        “the optics of a fight between Trump and Pelosi favors Trump. His brand management is just far superior than hers and much of the DNC.”

        His brand of management is deadly and dangerous to the very core of what this country stands for. I’m not even going to diatribe this one because it would be too long and nobody would read it.
        The “optics” of a fight between them might favor Trump. However, Trump calling Pelosi to congratulate her(a woman he despises) is the real optics you should focus on. What a stunt. He’s doing that because he knows damn well the Dems are about to put his butt in a stir. His fear is palpable and pathetic. He is weakened.

    • Brian November 7, 2018 at 9:54 am

      I’m a conservative (not a republican), but I’m fine with this outcome. It think gridlock can be really good for the country, actually. The Founding Fathers designed a LOT of friction into the system on purpose, specifically to slow things down. A lot of the damage that has been done in this country has come when one party held total power (that applies to both parties).

      No one needs to spin this for Trump, the numbers themselves do that (these may change a bit, since many races aren’t final):

      Barack Obama 2010 midterms: Lost 63 House seats, lost 6 Senate seats
      Donald Trump 2018 midterms: Lost 26 House seats, gained 4 Senate seats

      And that was with the media 110% behind Obama and 200% against Trump.

      The democrats will make a lot of noise in the house, but nothing substantial will come of it.

      • bikeandfish November 7, 2018 at 11:11 am

        100% agree on first paragraph regarding intentionally designed friction. We need bipartisanship to slow the process down. We have plenty examples of partisan bills crammed through Congress that highlight the illness of that process.

        And no doubt, the DNC got walloped under Obama, more so than anything last night for Trump. In fairness though, neither maintained a referendum from the public. The midterms always seem to sway against the President; we kind of a bipolar nation that way. And also, the 2010 onward midterms were a direct outcome of the RNCs metadata programs like project REDMAP. It wasn’t some organic upwelling against Obama. Nor was the media 100% behind Obama. Obama experienced some of the worst media vitriol we had seen up to that point. Did you watch Fox on cable? I mean they have the largest viewings and the coverage of Obama was nasty and hateful.

        There will be more than noise from the democrats though. Lets hope they are not idiotic and destructive enough to try impeachment proceedings. But they now control alot and get to manage significant oversight committees that do have influence.

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