Democrats pick up GOP-controlled House seats but fail to retake Senate
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Democrats gained control of the US House, picking up seats in moderate, suburban districts across the Northwest and Midwest as a long, tense midterm election night continued into the wee hours of Wednesday morning. But their hopes of gaining control of the US Senate were dashed.
Democrats lost a string of key Senate races to Republicans, as Mike Braun beat incumbent Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Kevin Cramer beat incumbent Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Marsha Blackburn beat Phil Bredesen in Tennessee, and Ted Cruz fended off a challenge from Beto O’Rourke in Texas.
The prognosis in the House was more encouraging for Democrats, who appeared on track to flip the 23 necessary House seats, or more, to gain control of that chamber.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to lead the majority in the House, delivered a victory speech.
“Democrats pledge a Congress that works for the people,” she said, saying the party’s victories Tuesday were “about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration.”
She promised that the House “will be led with transparency and openness so that the public can see what’s happening and how it affects them.”
“We will have accountability, and we will strive for bipartisanship,” she said. “We have all had enough of division.”
One of the first signs of hope for House Democrats came with an early victory by Jennifer Wexton in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District over incumbent Barbara Comstock.
Another sign: In south Florida’s 27th Congressional District, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala fended off a challenge from Maria Elvira Salazar.
A string of Democratic pickups followed, though there were some disappointments, including the loss of a high-profile House contest in Kentucky, when Andy Barr beat former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath.
If Democrats take control of the House, they will be able to block President Donald Trump’s agenda and launch investigations into his scandal-plagued administration.
Democrats have been energized and outraged by Trump’s tumultuous, divisive presidency. But Trump took to a barnstorming tour in recent weeks, frantically rallying his base as he stoked fear of immigrants.
Apparently focusing on Tuesday’s Senate results rather than the House results, Trump posted a brief tweet late Tuesday night, saying, “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!”
Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
Long lines and malfunctioning machines marred the first hours of voting in some precincts, including in Georgia, where some voters reported waiting up to three hours to vote in a hotly contested gubernatorial election.
Voting hours were extended at three polling places in Georgia’s Fulton County, home to much of Atlanta.
More than 39 million Americans had already voted, either by mail or in person, breaking early voting records across 37 states, according to an AP analysis.
Trump encouraged voters to view the first nationwide election of his presidency as a referendum on his leadership. With the economy surging, he also 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 its portrayal of a murderous immigrant went too far.
The president’s current job approval, set at 40 percent by Gallup, was the lowest mark of any first-term president in the modern era. Both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton’s numbers were 5 points higher at the same period, and both suffered catastrophic midterm losses of 63 and 54 House seats respectively.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.