Saturday, 17 November, 2018

What we know so far from the midterm election results

A voter casts his ballot in the midterm election at the East Midwood Jewish Center polling station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City Republicans fight to keep control of Senate in midterms
Deanna Wagner | 08 November, 2018, 11:15

Victories in GOP-held suburban seats around the country gave Democrats more than the 23 seats they needed to retake the majority, giving them control of half of Congress after being locked out of power since Trump took office previous year.

Early exit poll results suggest that President Donald Trump was a factor that significantly affected voting for the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. But media outlets like Fox News have declared the Democrats will take control over the House.

In the leadup to the election, Republicans privately expressed confidence in their narrow Senate majority but feared the House could slip away. Joe Donnelly in IN and Republican Marsha Blackburn's win in Tennessee made it much more hard for Democrats to make inroads.

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, the only GOP incumbent seeking re-election in a state Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won in 2016, became the only Republican senator to lose. The Republicans won the governor races in Florida and OH, according to exit polls.

Democrats failed to defeat a vulnerable incumbent in Kentucky, where Republican Rep. Andy Barr won over former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath.

In one example, voter turnout in a critical swing district in Florida was 87% of what it was in 2016, when Trump won the presidency.

In Virginia's 7th District, a Republican-leaning area near Richmond, Republican Rep. Dave Brat was in a tight race with Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer. Bob Menendez, who, less than a year ago, stood trial for federal corruption charges.

The Democrats are hoping to win control of both houses of Congress in order to challenge Republican President Donald Trump.

All 50 states and Washington DC will go to the polls, and voter turnout is expected to be high.

A simple majority (51%) in the House is needed to pass impeachment legislation.

"We did have two maniacs stop a momentum that was incredible, because for seven days nobody talked about the elections", the President said at a Missouri rally last week.

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Around 37 percent of eligible voters took part in the 2014 mid-term elections, down from 42 percent in 2010. More than 40 million Americans had already voted, either by mail or in person, breaking early voting records across 37 states, according to an AP analysis. That could help Democrats because younger voters tend to lean their way.

In a suburban battleground in Atlanta, Republican Rep. Karen Handel won a costly special election earlier this cycle but faced an upstart challenge from Lucy McBath, whose 17-year-old son was shot and killed at a gas station.

Trump would be left without congressional support to move his agenda forward under a Democratic House. The party has pledged to check the president's power and start a slew of investigations on matters including his tax returns, Russian involvement in the 2016 election and actions by his administration.

Democrats took control from Republicans in the House on Tuesday but Republicans outperformed expectations in Senate races and were set to pick up seats in the upper chamber. "I think the public will repudiate him [Trump] by voting in a Democratic-controlled House of Representative, because they do want a check".

But with his party losing its majority in the House, the results represented a bitter setback for Trump after a campaign that became a referendum on his leadership.

"We're going to win, based on data", Pelosi of California said at the Democratic campaign headquarters in Washington. Trump was badly underwater among women voters - who favor Democrats 62% to 35% - a gender gap, that if borne out by real votes, could prove devastating to Republican hopes.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says a Democratic wave may look more like a "ripple". Party stalwarts and some independents have been roused by revulsion toward Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric and policies and his efforts to dismantle health care protections enacted under President Obama, and by the #MeToo movement's fury over sexual harassment. Liberal House member Beto O'Rourke's underdog Senate campaign fell short in conservative Texas against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

Trump and Republicans appeared to have the economy on their side heading into the election: Unemployment in October held at a 48-year low of 3.7 per cent.

Trump was spending the day at the White House, tweeting support for Republicans in the toughest races and preparing to watch the results alongside friends and family, his spokeswoman said.

Problems with voting machines prevented Americans from casting ballots in a dozen states, U.S. rights advocates said, following complaints about registration problems, faulty equipment and intimidation they have received throughout early balloting. Victories in contested House races across Florida, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Minnesota gave them cause for optimism. Yet it may be effective in largely rural states where he remains popular and where numerous closest Senate races are playing out.

The campaign will be the most expensive midterm in history, projected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics to exceed $5 billion.