Saturday, 17 November, 2018

GOP keeps Senate control for 2 more years, triumph for Trump

US midterms Key factors of the 2018 elections Shalala, Mucarsel-Powell flip Miami-Dade House seats to Democrats
Deanna Wagner | 08 November, 2018, 17:23

With Democrats considered a good bet to grab House control from Republicans, keeping the Senate was seen as crucial for the Republicans' goals of tax and spending cuts, trade, immigration restrictions, curbs on Obama's health care law and judicial nominations.

But while the party only needs two more seats to take control of the Senate, this is likely to be a much tougher challenge for the Democrats.

"It's a huge moment and victory for the president", Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the White House Tuesday night.

Facebook also blocked about 115 user accounts after U.S. authorities tipped it off to suspicious behaviour that may be linked to a foreign entity, the company said hours voting began.

Republicans had another pickup opportunity in New Jersey, where Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who saw federal prosecutors drop bribery charges against him in January after a mistrial, faced wealthy pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin.

In the Senate special election, GOP Rep. Jeff Howe defeated DFL Stearns County Commissioner Joe Perske in the race to succeed former Sen. 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. The GOP's grip on high-profile governorships in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin were at risk as well.

DFLers had history on their side. Almost 4 in 10 said they were casting ballots to express opposition to him, while just 1 in 4 said their vote was an expression of support.

"Even though I'm not on the ballot, in a certain way I am on the ballot", Mr Trump said during a tele-town hall meeting organised by his re-election campaign on Monday to encourage Republicans to get out and vote.

That's a sure-fire formula for two years of legislative gridlock and positioning for the 2020 presidential and congressional elections.

How close are the elections going to be?

But Democratic former President Barack Obama hit the campaign trail in the election's final days to challenge Trump, questioning his policies and character.

Democrats have picked up at least 23 House seats, putting them on track to reach the 218 needed to seize control from Republicans after eight years. Dean Heller, the only Republican seeking re-election in a state Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential race.

Several ambitious Democrats easily won re-election, including presidential prospects Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of MA and Kirsten Gillibrand of NY. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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Trump spent Tuesday at the White House, tweeting, making calls, monitoring the races and meeting with his political team. Among those expected: Vice President Mike Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal adviser to the president.

Democrats, whose very relevance in the Trump era depended on winning at least one chamber of Congress, were laser-focused on health care as they predicted victories that would break up the GOP's monopoly in Washington and state governments.

The political and practical stakes were sky-high.

Turnout was expected to be much higher than in previous times on Election Day Tuesday when USA voters headed to the polls to choose their representatives in both chambers of Congress in the midterm elections. Perhaps more important, they would claim subpoena power to investigate Trump's personal and professional shortcomings.

Some Democrats have already vowed to force the release of his tax returns.

There are also elections for 36 of the 50 state governors. Democrats are relying more upon women, people of color, young people and college graduates.

Trump boasted a growing economy but campaigned aggressively in the closing days on a hardline anti-immigration message.

Democrats faced a far more hard challenge in the Senate, where they were nearly exclusively on defence in rural states where Mr Trump remains popular.

Meanwhile, Republicans Mike Braun and Kevin Cramer won Democratic-held Senate seats in IN and North Dakota, ousting incumbents Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp.

It was just the second midterm election in over three decades when the party holding the White House gained seats.

"Divisiveness is really tearing the country apart", Koutsogiogasi, a Democrat, said as he voted with his wife.

Three states could elect their first African-American governors, while several others were running LGBT candidates and Muslims.