Midterms: Democrats Take House; GOP Strengthens Hold on Senate

November 7, 2018, 10:10 AM UTC

The Democratic Party has retaken the House of Representatives after eight years of Republican control. Yet the 2018 midterms did not provide the outright blue wave that some predicted.

At the time of writing on Wednesday morning, with 412 of 435 House races called, the Democrats had turned a 45-seat deficit into a seven-seat majority. With 31 of 35 Senate races called, meanwhile, the Republicans had strengthened their majority in the upper house from two seats to six.

The upshot is that there is now a branch of government that will seek to push back against the policies and impulses of President Donald Trump. “It’s about restoring the constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday night.

Given the Republicans’ continued hold on the Senate, however, there is little likelihood of a rollback for any of President Trump’s already-enacted measures, such as last year’s corporate tax cuts.

The president seems happy, calling the result a “tremendous success.”

The Democrats’ rising stars had a mixed evening. The 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialist, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. At the same time Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar became the first Muslim women to be elected to the House, and Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first Native American congresswomen.

Elsewhere, however, Beto O’Rourke failed to unseat Ted Cruz as Texas senator, and Andrew Gillum just lost out to Ron DeSantis in the Florida gubernatorial race.

Apart from their impact on the second half of Trump’s term, the midterms were also notable for their record levels of early voting and a generally high turnout—current estimates have it that 114 million votes were cast in House races, compared with just 83 million in the 2014 midterms.

Several other interesting votes also took place yesterday. In a move that could have major repercussions in two years’ time, Floridians decided to restore the vote to over a million felons who have served their time. And on the cannabis front, Michigan opted to embrace recreational consumption and Missouri decided to legalize medical marijuana.

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