For the first time in eight years the Democrats are expected to retake the U.S. House of Representatives in an election that was widely seen as a referendum on the turbulent presidency of Donald Trump.
The Democrats will take control the House, while the GOP are projected to retain the Senate and possibly increase their slim majority, according to projections by three U.S. networks and the Associated Press.
The Democrats made significant gains in the House and were expected to win the 218 seats necessary to gain control of the 435-seat chamber. The outcome will dramatically shape the next two years of Trump’s presidency, who could face now face several Democratic-led investigations and see his legislative agenda grind to a halt.
Trump did not speak following Tuesday’s elections but tweeted: “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!”
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As results poured in across the U.S., the Democrats flipped House seats from Republicans in key races in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Minnesota, but lost a key race in Kentucky, according to projections from the AP.
Former Clinton administration cabinet member Donna Shalala defeated Republican Maria Elvira Salazar to win a House seat long targeted by Democrats in the Miami area.
In northern Virginia, Democratic state Sen. Jennifer Wexton ousted Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock from her seat, according to AP projections. But, Democrats failed to defeat a vulnerable incumbent in Kentucky, where Republican Rep. Andy Barr won over former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath.
A “blue wave” also failed to carry Democrats to a majority in the Senate as losses in many of the top Senate battlegrounds mounted in: Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, North Dakota and Texas.
In one of the most closely watched races in the country Ted Cruz, R-Texas, managed to narrowly defeat Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.
“Millions across this state were inspired by his campaign,” Cruz told supporters referring to O’Rourke. “To all of those who worked on this campaign, all those who were inspired by him, that I am your senator as well. My responsibility is to represent every Texan.”
Republican Josh Hawley unseated Missouri’s Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in a major victory for the GOP. McCaskill was one of 10 Democratic Senate incumbents up for re-election in states Trump won.
And in another closely watched contests, Republican Ron DeSantis won Florida’s gubernatorial election defeating Democrat Andrew Gillum and in Mississippi, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy have advanced to a runoff for a Senate seat where they’ll face off on Nov. 27.
In Ohio, Republican Mike DeWine has been elected governor defeating Democrat Richard Cordray and holding the seat for the GOP.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin won re-election. And in New Jersey, Democrats re-elected embattled Sen. Bob Menendez, who, less than a year ago, faced federal corruption charges that were later dropped after a trial ended in an hung jury. In Washington, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell has won re-election beating Republican challenger Susan Hutchison.
Trump Republicans seized victory in Indiana as Greg Pence, Vice President Mike Pence’s older brother, won a House seat in Indiana’s 6th congressional district. The seat was previously held by the vice president. And in high-profile Senate contest, businessman Mike Braun defeated Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly.
Meanwhile, several 2020 presidential prospects easily won re-election, including Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“This is a pivotal moment in American history,” Sanders told supporters. “We have a president of the United States who is a pathological liar. And is doing something that no president in my lifetime has ever done – that is instead of bringing people he is trying to divide us.”
A number of other Democratic senators were also re-elected, including Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
Trump spent the day at the White House, tweeting, making calls, monitoring the races and meeting with his political team. He and the first lady were to host an evening watch party for family and friends. Among those expected: Vice President Mike Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal adviser to the president.
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Other wins included; Republican Bill Lee who won his race in Tennessee, Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson who was re-elected and Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo who was re-elected inin Rhode Island.
A survey of more than 120,000 voters and nonvoters conducted on behalf of the Associated Press shows health care and immigration were high on voters’ minds as they cast their ballots
AP’s VoteCast also shows a majority of voters considered Trump a factor and almost 60 per cent of respondents believed the country was headed in the wrong direction.
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This election has been seen as a vote on the Trump White House, something the president acknowledged while speaking at a rally in Cleveland Monday.
“In a sense, I am on the ticket,” he told a cheering crowd.
As Election Day unfolded, Democrats were increasingly confident they would pick up at least the 23 seats needed for a House majority on the strength of voter enthusiasm, robust fundraising and unusually fresh candidates.
“The drumbeat you hear across America is people voting,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said as polls opened. Individual races “will be close,” she said, but because of the “quality of our candidates” and emphasis on preserving health care, “I feel confident we will win.”
Historically, the president’s party does not do well during midterm elections. Barack Obama’s Democrats lost 63 House seats during the first midterm in 2010 and during George W. Bush’s second term, the GOP lost 30 seats.
Trump’s approval rating has risen slightly since the fall of 2017 but remains around 43 per cent, according to the RealClearPolitics average.
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Obama’s was 45 per cent before the 2010 midterms that led to a Republican landslide. Bill Clinton was also 45 per cent before suffering a major midterm losses of 54 House seats.
To stem GOP losses ahead of Tuesday, Trump had turned to increasingly dark rhetoric and warned – without evidence – of an immigrant “invasion” that promised to spread violent crime and drugs across the nation. Several television networks, including Fox News a channel favoured by the president, removed a Trump campaign on the night before the election after it was criticized as being racist.
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More women than ever were running in this election, along with military veterans and people of colour, many motivated by Trump and the GOP’s control over Congress. Several campaigns were fought with jarring political ads, extreme rhetoric and angry debates on immigration and religion.
Tuesday’s midterms were historic as Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have become the first Muslim women elected to US Congress. Tlaib took Michigan’s 13th congressional district in a race in which she was unopposed. Omar won Minnesota’s strongly Democratic fifth congressional district, replacing the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison.
Democrat Ayanna Pressley became the first African American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress and In Colorado, Democratic candidate Jared Polis made history as he became the first openly gay man to be elected as a U.S. governor. Polis defeated Republican opponent Walker to replace outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper’s seat.
And in Kansas’s 3rd District, Democrat Sharice Davids is projected oust four-term Rep. Kevin Yoder. Davids, an attorney and former professional mixed martial arts fighter, is set to make history as one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.
Some voters across the country faced hours-long lines, malfunctioning voting equipment and unexpectedly closed polling places on Election Day.
The Associated Press reports that some of the longest delays were in Georgia, where the governor’s race was among the nation’s most-watched midterm contests and was generating heavy turnout.
“We’ve been trying to tell them to wait, but people have children. People are getting hungry. People are tired,” said Ontaria Woods, a voter in Gwinnett County who waited more than three hours to vote.
In New York City, there were reports of broken ballot readers at several polling locations and images. Turnout was so heavy at one packed precinct on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that the line to scan ballots stretched around a junior high school gym.
“There are broken scanners everywhere in Brooklyn,” Stefan Ringel, spokesman for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, told the AP.
Voters arriving at two separate polling stations discovered that most scanners had broken down, forcing some people to drop their ballots in “emergency ballot boxes” or vote using an affidavit ballot.
Early voting turnout for the midterm elections, especially among young people, is already significantly higher than 2014’s midterm elections, according to data collected so far. Over 31.5 million ballots have been cast for the midterms so far, according to Catalist, a data company that compiles totals of ballots cast.
One issue that Canadians will be watching for is how the results could affect the recently renegotiated United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement.
The deal still needs to be ratified in all three countries and some experts have warned that if Democrats win the House they may dig in and not want to give Trump a victory on the trade deal.
“The real issue will be whether or not they’ll be in refusal mode and will just want to stick it to Trump in every possible way they can, or if this is actually something that a few Democrats may actually want to get behind,” Greg Anderson, an associate professor of political science at the University of Ottawa, told Global News.
And Michigan will become the first state in the Midwest- 10th state in the U.S. – to legalize marijuana for recreational use, according to U.S. media projections.
The drug is still illegal at the federal level and cross the border has become more complicated for Canadians working or partaking in the newly legalized pot industry. Legalization at the state level could spur action federally.
With files from the Associate Press and Global News
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.