Democrats seized the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm election, ending the GOP’s eight-year monopoly on Congress and setting up a potential check on President Donald Trump.
But in a mixed outcome reflecting a deeply divided electorate, the Republicans strengthened their grip on the Senate, expanding their majority in upper house.
Nevertheless, Republicans’ loss of the House will be a blow to the White House in a race that effectively acted as a referendum on Trump’s presidency. The result gives the Democrats power to limit Trump’s legislative agenda and investigate his administration, confronting the president with a more hostile congressional landscape in the second half of his term.
Despite the losses for his party, Trump focused on the positives, hailing the results on Twitter as a “tremendous success” — before tweeting out praise from a commentator who said he had “magic coming out of his ears.” In his first tweet Wednesday morning, he hailed the outcome as a “Big Victory.”
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the capture of the House marked “a new day in America,” and pledged to reject further division by pushing ahead with a bipartisan agenda.
“We will have a responsibility to find our common ground where we can, stand our ground where we can’t,” Pelosi said.
Her party needed to flip 23 seats to reach the 218 mark necessary to gain control of the House, and achieved that early Wednesday, marking the third time the chamber had changed hands in 12 years. With a number of races still undeclared, the Democrats could be on track to flip more than 30 seats.
By contrast, the Democrats lost ground in the Senate, with incumbent senators in Missouri, Indiana, and North Dakota losing to their Republican rivals. Democrats also came up short in closely-fought battlegrounds such as Texas, where rising star Beto O'Rourke failed to oust Sen. Ted Cruz.
Of the 35 seats up for grabs in the 100-seat Senate Tuesday, 26 were being defended by Democrats, meaning it was always going to be an uphill battle for the party. Many incumbent Democratic senators were fighting to hold their jobs in seats where Trump won by double-digits in 2016.
The continued Republican control of the Senate means Trump still has a majority to confirm judicial and executive appointments.
But a Democrat-held House will throw up new obstacles to his presidency. The House Democrats will be able to probe Trump’s potential business conflicts, links to Russia, or tax returns, and block funding for key projects such as the border wall or tax-cut packages.
Amid a high turnout, the results marked a record year for women, with at least 95 winning election to the House, 83 of them Democrats. They included the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and the first Native American women, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland. All are Democrats.
Cover image: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a DCCC election watch party at the Hyatt Regency on November 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)