Dems on track to control House
WASHINGTON — Democrats were on track to gain House control Tuesday night but Republicans held their Senate majority as voters rendered a mixed verdict in the first nationwide election of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency.
The Democrats picked up the 23 seats they would need to take from the GOP, but were still short of the 218 total to take control with more races still undecided.
The results allowed both parties to claim partial victory, but highlighted an extraordinary realignment of U.S. voters by race, sex and education. Republicans maintained their strength in conservative, rural states, while Democrats made inroads across America’s suburbs.
With control of Congress, statehouses and the president’s agenda at stake, some of the nation’s top elections were too close to call.
Yet Democrats’ dreams of the Senate majority as part of a “blue wave” were shattered after losses in many of the top Senate battlegrounds: Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, North Dakota and Texas. They also suffered a stinging loss in Florida, where Trump-backed Republican Ron DeSantis ended Democrat Andrew Gillum’s bid to become the state’s first African-American governor.
In the broader fight for control in the Trump era, the political and practical stakes on Tuesday 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.
Democrats won nearly all of the seats they needed to claim House control with other competitive contests remaining. Victories in contested races across Florida, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Minnesota gave them cause for optimism.
Nearly 40 percent of voters cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, according to AP VoteCast, the national survey of the electorate, while one-in-four said they voted to express support for Trump.
Overall, 6 in 10 voters said the country was headed in the wrong direction, but roughly that same number described the national economy as excellent or good. Twenty-five percent described health care and immigration as the most important issues in the election.
Nearly two-thirds said Trump was a reason for their vote.
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.
He bet big on a xenophobic closing message, warning of an immigrant “invasion” that promised to spread violent crime and drugs across the nation. Several television networks, including the president’s favorite Fox News Channel, yanked a Trump campaign advertisement off the air on the eve of the election, determining that its portrayal of a murderous immigrant went too far.
The president’s current job approval, set at 40 percent by Gallup, was the lowest at this point of any first-term president in the modern era.
“Tomorrow will be a new day in America,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who’s in line to become the next House speaker should Democrats take the majority.
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI of Calif. (center) speaks between two of her grandsons and Congressional Democrats as they celebrate Democratic wins in the House of Representatives to a crowd of Democratic supporters during an election night returns event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Tuesday in Washington.