Mid-term polls: Trump widens majority in Senate, but loses House
08 November 2018
The Democratic ‘Blue Wave’ didn’t quite sweep aside the Republican ‘Red Wall’ in the US mid-term elections, as liberals were hoping. A strong showing in Middle America allowed President Donald Trump’s party to expand its slim majority in the Senate, even as the Democratic Party recaptured the House of Representatives after eight years in the opposition benches.
Democrats won 223 seats in elections to the 435-strong House, whose members are proportional to the population of states, while the Republican Party extended its 51-49 majority to 54-46 the Senate, which elects two lawmakers per state.
Many far-right Republicans were re-elected, i while old-school Republicans were replaced by more brazenly Trumpian ones – as, for example, Katie Arrington in South Carolina (House of Representatives), Brian Kemp in Georgia (governor), and Ron DeSantis in Florida (governor).
President Trump on Wednesday celebrated Senate gains for his party and immediately threatened Democrats, who won back control of the House and with it the power to investigate the president's personal and professional conduct.
Trump has long felt aggrieved by the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He took to Twitter in the morning after the split election outcome to put Democrats on notice about their threats to investigate him and the administration. Democrats are also interested in Trump's tax returns, which he has declined to make public.
"If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!" Trump said.
Hours earlier, the president had tweeted that "now we can all get back to work and get things done!"
"Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well. Those that did not, say goodbye!" Trump said in a tweet that did not mention the loss of GOP control of the House.
"Yesterday was such a very Big Win, and all under the pressure of a Nasty and Hostile Media!" he added.
Widely viewed as a referendum on Trump's presidency, Tuesday's results offered a split decision that revealed deep tensions in the American electorate — a rift that could easily widen during two years of divided control of Congress. Trump's aggressive campaign blitz, which paid off in some key victories, suggests he is likely to continue leaning into the fray.
Control of the House gives Democrats the ability to launch investigations into the president and stifle his agenda. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sought to minimise Democratic gains in that chamber, but called retaining control of the Senate a "huge moment and victory for the president."
White House aides called on Democrats to work with Republicans in the next Congress.
Said Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, "I don't know that there will be much of an appetite for Democrat lawmakers to spend all of their time, or most of their time or even a fraction of their time investigating, instigating, trying to impeach and subpoena people."
Trump had aggressively campaigned in the closing days of the race, his focus on boosting Republicans in states he carried in 2016.
In the three races he targeted on the final day, Trump's picks won Tuesday night, with Republican Mike Braun defeating Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Republican Josh Hawley defeating Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine defeating Democrat Richard Cordray in the race for Ohio governor.
The White House for days has stressed the historical headwinds it faced: in the last three decades, 2002 was the only midterm election when the party holding the White House gained Senate seats. And only twice in the past eight decades has the president's party picked up House seats in the midterms.
Trump spent election night watching returns with family and friends at the White House, his shadow looming large over the results.
Nearly 40 per cent of voters cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate, while about 25 per cent said they voted to express support for Trump.
The election served as a referendum of sorts on Trump's racially charged appeals and the strength of the coalition that powered him to the White House — a group he will need again in just two years.
Overall, more voters disapproved of Trump's job performance than approved — a finding that is largely consistent with recent polling. Voters scored Trump positively on the economy and for standing up "for what he believes in". But the president received negative marks from voters on temperament and trustworthiness.
Still, about one-third of voters said Trump was not a factor in their votes.
Returning to his immigration-heavy 2016 playbook, Trump went on to unleash his full fury on a caravan of migrants slowly making their way to the southern border. His take-no-prisoners approach troubled many Republicans seeking to appeal to moderate voters in suburban House districts, but Trump prioritised base voters in the deep-red states that could determine the fate of the Senate.