Republicans Hold on to Senate, Blocking Democrats' Chances to Take Control

Frederick Owens
November 9, 2018

Democrats struck first in the battle for the House of Representatives, with Jennifer Wexton ousting two-term incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock in a suburban Virginia district outside Washington to pick up the first of the 23 seats the party needs to gain a House majority, according to data provider DDHQ and US media outlets.

In his first reaction to a mixed night, Trump chose to celebrate Republican successes.

At 11:15 pm, when Republicans had cemented their majority in the Senate but Democrats were on their way to taking power in the House, Trump tweeted that the election had been a "tremendous success".

In an unusual twist, Trump was brief in his comments after Republicans lost the House.

In midterm elections two years after he won the White House, Trump and his fellow Republicans expanded their majority in the U.S. Senate following a divisive campaign marked by fierce clashes over race, immigration and other cultural issues. A Democratic victory would break the Republicans' eight-year hold on the House that began with the tea party revolt of 2010.

But it's clear that Congress will be a very different place come January.

Rep. Tim Ryan of OH, who challenged Pelosi unsuccessfully in 2016, has left the door open to the possibility of challenging the Democratic leader again, while others are mulling a bid only if Pelosi steps aside or if she were to be defeated in a run for speaker.

Problems with voting machines prevented Americans from casting ballots in a dozen states, US rights advocates said, citing complaints about registration problems, faulty equipment, and intimidation they have received throughout early balloting.

"Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America", she said standing alongside other Democratic House leaders.

Said White House counsellor 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".

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The Republican Party retained the control of the US Senate as the vote count for the US Midterm Elections 2018 continued. Democrats require at least 218 mandates to get the majority, and now need at least 23 mandates to achieve that goal. At least 28 of them were elected to the House for the first time.

The Democratic Party also managed to win a number of gubernatorial races, including in the states of Illinois, New Mexico and Kansas, balancing out the Republicans who controlled 33 governorships prior to the election.

If Democrats can capture a majority in the House, they could block Trump's policy agenda and launch congressional investigations into the Trump administration. "The Democratic Party is back", said Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez.

Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and staunchly conservative GOP activists have demanded a more conservative House leader, with many saying the chamber's Republican Caucus should select the next speaker in a private meeting.

Twenty-five percent described health care and immigration as the most important issues in the election, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate.

Republicans entered the night commanding the Senate only narrowly, 51-49. Democratic incumbents also prevailed in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Midwestern states that Trump carried narrowly two years ago.

Democratic candidates flipped seats in several suburban districts outside of Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago and Denver that were considered prime targets for turnover because they were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

"In this election, they sought to energise groups that Clinton did not: young voters, Latinos, African Americans and infrequent voters", the daily said.

Mr Trump encouraged voters to view the first nationwide election of his presidency as a referendum on his leadership, pointing proudly to the surging economy at recent rallies.

By 10 p.m. EDT, several major networks called the House for Democrats.

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