For all the hype, Tuesday's midterm elections went as many polls predicted.
The Democrats took the House, bringing an end to single-party rule in Washington. Crucially, however, the Republicans extended their control of the Senate, and repelled the expected “blue wave” with significant victories in Texas and Florida.
President Donald Trump hailed the results Wednesday as a “tremendous success,” but his power to push through hardline immigration and spending policies has been significantly diminished.
The results hand the Democrats power to subpoena and probe deeper into Trump’s personal and professional worlds — including his long-withheld tax returns.
The Democrats’ tactic of targeting women, minorities and the young was vindicated with a record liberal turnout in many suburbs. The result is that Washington will now be a much more diverse place, with a record number of women Congress.
Outside the beltway, Colorado elected the country’s first openly gay governor, while New Mexico and Kansas sent the country’s first Native American women to Congress. Minnesota and Michigan voted in the country’s first Muslim women into office. And, there could yet be the country’s first black female governor.
Here’s a breakdown of all the important results from the 2018 midterms:
The Big Races
Democratic hopes of major upsets in Texas, Georgia and Florida failed to materialize.
- Cruz hangs on: Despite raising more money than any Senate candidate in U.S. history ($69 million), 39-year-old Beto O’Rourke failed to unseat incumbent Ted Cruz in Texas. But Cruz’s narrow victory in the blood-red state will be a worry for the GOP while O’Rourke’s star power is unlikely to be dulled amid talk of a possible 2020 run.
- Trump-loving DeSantis wins: Democrat Andrew Gillum hoped to become the first black governor of Florida, but Trump supporter Ron DeSantis narrowly won. Trump stumped for DeSantis in the build-up to the election, while labeling Gillum a “thief” on Twitter.
- Too close to call: With all precincts reporting, Republican Brian Kemp, who also happened to be the official in charge of the election, holds a razor-thin majority in Georgia’s race for governor. But progressive Democrat Stacey Abrams is not giving up, claiming uncounted absentee ballots and mail-in votes could trigger a December runoff.
- Walker loses seat: Incumbent Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was defeated by Democratic candidate Tony Evers by the narrowest of margins — just 1 percent — according to Associated Press. But Walker is not giving up, and his team has suggested a recount might be needed.
- Down to the wire: With almost all the votes counted, Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott led Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by less than half a percentage point, in the bitter and expensive Senate race. If that margin remains, a mandatory recount will be triggered.
- Rohrabacher routed: Vladimir Putin will have to find a new “favorite Congressman” after outspoken Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher lost to Democrat Harley Rouda in the deeply red 48th House District in California.
Wins For Women
A dramatic increase in the number of female candidates this year will see a record 115 women being sent to Congress next term. The previous record was 107. At least 95 women have been elected to the House, with some experts predicting the number could top 100. They will join 20 women in the Senate.
Among the female victories were a number of young, black, Muslim and Native American candidates. They campaigned on a number of progressive issues, most notably the need for better health care.
They Made History
There were several election firsts Tuesday, with diverse candidates making history.
- First openly gay governor: In Colorado — a state once labeled the “hate state” for its anti-LGBT laws — Democrat Jared Polis became the first openly gay candidate to become governor, defeating Republican Walker Stapleton.
- New Hampshire's first openly gay Congressman: Chris Pappas has become New Hampshire’s first openly gay member of Congress after defeating Republican Eddie Edwards by more than 8 points.
- First black woman from Massachusetts: Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts' first black woman elected to the House. During her victory speech, Pressley said that women of color have had to create “seismic shifts” in order to break through barriers that have kept them from office.
- First Muslim women in Congress: Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American from Michigan, and Ilhan Omar, a Somali American from Minnesota, will become the first American-Muslim women to serve in Congress. Their victories bolstered a historic surge of Muslims seeking political office this year.
- First Iranian-American: Anna Eskamani triumphed in her race to become the first Iranian-American lawmaker in the Florida state House, defeating Republican businessman and incumbent Stockton Reeves.
- Youngest ever: At just 29 years old, democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Her victory — defeating Republican Anthony Pappas — was not a shock after she upset Joseph Crowley, the fourth-most-powerful Democrat in the House, in a primary earlier this year.
- First Native American women: Democrats Sharice Davids in Kansas and Deb Haaland in New Mexico will become the first Native American women elected to Congress. Davids is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and Haaland is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna.
Three more states joined the growing list of territories making weed legal for recreational or medical use.
Voters in Michigan made it the 10th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, while Missouri and Utah became the 31st and 32nd states to approve its use for medical purposes.
San Francisco voters passed the controversial Proposition C, with 60 percent voting in favor of the initiative. The plan will see corporations with revenue above $50 million charged about 0.5 percent in gross receipts tax, with the proceeds going entirely toward homeless programs. The project was supported by Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, while Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey opposed it.
Florida voting rights
More than 1.5 million Floridians just got back their right to vote.
Almost two-thirds of voters in the Sunshine State voted in favor of Amendment 4, which will restore voting rights to former felons who’ve served their sentences.
One unexpected result...
Amid few shocks, Las Vegas provided one outlier.
Dennis Hof, a brothel owner and reality TV star, defeated Democratic educator Lesia Romanov on in the race for Nevada’s 36th Assembly District.
Unfortunately, Hof won’t be taking office as he was found dead three weeks ago by porn star Ron Jeremy.
Cover image: The U.S. Capitol is reflected in a puddle of water a day after Americans voted in the midterm elections, on November 7, 2018 in Washington, DC. Democrats have won control of the House of Representatives while the U.S. Senate remains in Republican control. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)