Democrats gain in their quest for House control but the GOP retains control in the Senate,
Democrats were gaining significant ground in the battle for House control Tuesday night, while Republicans held onto their majority in the Senate as voters weighed in on the first nationwide election in Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency.
With control of Congress, statehouses and the president’s agenda at stake, some of the nation’s top elections were too close to call.
Democrats won half the seats they needed to claim House control with dozens additional competitive contests remaining. Victories in contested races across Florida, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Minnesota gave them cause for optimism.
The Democrats’ narrow path to the Senate was slammed shut after setbacks in Indiana, Tennessee, North Dakota and Texas.
Trump’s team immediately sought to give him credit for retaining their narrow Senate majority, even as their foothold in the more competitive House battlefield appeared to be slipping. “It’s a huge moment and victory for the president,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the White House.
Two issues more than any others were on voters’ minds. 25 percent described health care and immigration as the most important issues in the election, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate. Nearly two-thirds said Trump was a reason for their vote.
Democrats, whose very relevance in the Trump era depended on winning at least one chamber of Congress, were laser-focused on health care as they predicted victories that would break up the GOP’s monopoly in Washington and state governments.
The political and practical stakes were sky-high.
Democrats could derail Trump’s legislative agenda for the next two years should they win control of the House. And they would claim subpoena power to investigate Trump’s personal and professional shortcomings.
Some Democrats have already vowed to force the release of his tax returns. Others have pledged to pursue impeachment, although removal from office is unlikely so long as the GOP controls the Senate or even maintains a healthy minority.
Yet Trump’s party will maintain Senate control for the next two years, at least.
In Texas, Sen Ted Cruz staved off a tough challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke, whose record-smashing fundraising and celebrity have set off buzz he could be a credible 2020 White House contender.
In Indiana, Trump-backed businessman Mike Braun defeated Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly. And in Tennessee, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn defeated former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a top Democratic recruit.