In one of the most hotly contested midterm elections in history the Democratic Party has taken over control of the House of Representatives from Republicans. Thirty-one seats flipped from Republican to Democratic control, while only three flipped from Democratic to Republican control. The twenty-eight seat net-gain was enough to wrest control from Republicans.
Democrats needed twenty-three seats to take the House over. As of the time of this publication Democrats hold a 223-197 seat advantage in the lower chamber. Fifteen races in the House have yet to be decided.
The shift in power raises questions over just how bad already grid-locked Washington D.C. will get in the next two years. Party leaders struck a bipartisan tone in the hours after it became clear government in Washington will be divided.
“We will strive for bipartisanship. We believe that we have a responsibility to seek common ground where we can,” Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California said during a press conference on Capitol Hill today. “Where we cannot we must stand our ground, but we must try,” she added.
Pelosi is widely expected to become the next Speaker of the House. She previously served as Speaker – the first woman ever to do so – from 2007 to 2011.
“Now is the time for members of both parties to join together, put partisanship aside, and keep the American economic miracle going strong,” President Trump said during a news conference at the White House today.
But the President also sent a clear warning to Democrats who may be looking at their newfound power to launch investigations into the President and his administration.
“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!” he wrote on Twitter.
“So we can look at us, they can look at us, then we can look at them and it’ll go back and forth. And it’ll probably be very good for me politically. I could see it being extremely good politically, because I think I’m better at that game than they are actually,” the President would say later during a press conference. “But we’ll find out. I mean, you know, we’ll find out. Or we can work together.”
“You can’t do them simultaneously, by the way. Just think, if somebody said ‘Oh, you can do them,’ no you can’t. Cause if they’re doing that, we’re not doing the other, just so you understand,” he added.
A “blue wave” of Democratic victories was predicted in yesterday’s elections with estimates by political experts of as many as forty seats being flipped. The number of victories wasn’t quite that high but the shift in power was seen as a rebuke to the President.
Early exit polling shows two-thirds of voters said their vote yesterday was about Trump in one way or another. Nearly 4 in 10 voters said their vote was meant to show opposition to the President. Losing one chamber of Congress is a check on the President’s power. Republicans had been in control of all three lawmaking bodies in Washington.
The split was especially marked among women voters. Exit polls show Democrats won the women’s vote 59%-40%, the largest margin ever seen in exit polling for a midterm election. The President’s message in the closing days of the election about immigrants invading the U.S. through the southern border was believed to have driven women – especially independent women – away from Republicans.
Still, the results, however dramatic, were in line with historical outcomes for midterms. There have only been three midterm elections where the sitting president’s party did not lose seats in the House: 1934, 1998 and 2002.
Republicans did manage to not only keep control of the Senate but expand their majority in that body slightly. Republicans managed to flip two Senate seats from Democratic control: North Dakota and Missouri. Another hotly contested Senate race in Florida is currently too close to call, but Republican challenger and former governor of that state, Rick Scott, is currently leading Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.
It was a night that saw an extremely high number of votes cast across the country. Some 114 million Americans voted in yesterday’s election according to estimates, dwarfing the 83 million votes cast in the last midterm election in 2014.
Photo by The White House via Flickr