International Elections: US Mid Terms 2018 Results – A Night of Two Halves

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A historic victory for the Democrats, but gains in the Senate for President Trump. 

The Democratic Party won back the House of Representatives on a historic night across the Atlantic. In an election considered a referendum on the current administration, it was the opposition who prevailed, taking back control of the larger of the two congressional bodies. Needing a majority of 218 seats to win back the House, the Democrats prevailed, with CNN announcing their victory at 11 pm ET.

The victory, forecasted by many pollsters and commentators in the lead up to the elections, means that for the first time in four years, the Democrats will have a major impact on government legislation. This is particularly bad news for incumbent President Donald Trump, who throughout campaigning for the elections, engaged in inflammatory rhetoric against his opponents who have been highly critical of his administration so far. Mr Trump tweeted that the night had been a “great success”, though this was more likely to reference the Republican Party’s gains in the Senate.

The Democrats knew before the elections that to win back the house, (winning the Senate remained unlikely due to the number of Democrats defending their position), they would have to make gains in areas that voted Republican in 2016. These major gains were evident in Pennsylvania, where the Democrats gained 4 seats, partly in thanks to the district border changes from the last election. They also gained 2 seats in Florida, a state regarded as crucial in winning an election, with only 2 Presidents in the past 60 years losing the state going on to take the White House.

With these ‘swing-state’ gains Democrats claimed the 22 seats off the Republicans that CNN projected they needed to win when the first polls closed at around 6 pm ET. Within their 218 victories also came some historic firsts for an American Congress. Rashid Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, representatives from Michigan and Minnesota respectively, became the first two Muslim-American women in Congress. History was also made in New York, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becoming not only the youngest woman to ever enter Congress in US history but also the first woman of colour to represent her district. These historical gains made by the Democratic Party are a sign they believe in the blue wave that will in 2020, take back control of not only the Senate but also win the White House.

The Democratic Party victory in the house will spell an end to the unified control that the Republican party had on the US government. President Trump, who has already been met with governmental opposition regarding his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, can also be wary of the Democrats ability to now request documents regarding his tax returns, which he has not released yet. There are also fears that the Democrats can now further push the investigation behind the President and his campaigns possible collusion with rather before the 2016 election.

Mr Trump, despite maintaining that the mid-terms had been a success, was visibly rattled at his press conference on Wednesday, when questioned on the possibility of this investigation by CNN’s Jim Acosta. Mr Trump branded Mr Acosta “a very rude person” and stated that the network should be “ashamed” to employ him. Mr Acosta later had his White House Pass revoked by the Secret Service, an action that was to be condemned by the White House Press Association.

The fallout from the Mid-Terms continued, as Mr Trump fired his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr Sessions had been heavily criticised by the President since his decision to recluse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into any possible collusion by Russia and the Trump campaign. This has led to fears from the Democrats that the President, is attempting to undermine the investigation, as his replacement Matthew Whittaker questioned the legitimacy of the investigation. The New York Times, who have branded Whittaker as a ‘Trump Loyalist’ state that the Democrats intend for Mr Whittaker to take a similar stance to his predecessor due to the possible conflict of interests that may arise from his previous comments on the Trump-Russia probe.

Jeff Sessions | Credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
However, there are positives for the Republican Party when their gains in the Senate are considered. Having held a one-seat majority before the mid-terms, they won back seats in Indiana, Florida, and Missouri (although Incumbent Senator Bill Nelson has called for a recount such was the close margin of the vote in Florida). Texas Senator and Mr Trump’s rival for the nominee for President Ted Cruz also retained his Senate seat despite a close challenge by the relatively unknown Democrat Beto O’Rourke. The extension of Republican control in the Senate could prove to be a big boost for Mr Trump’s intentions to remain in office until his two-term presidency would finish in 2025. Not only does a Senate majority control protect him from Impeachment, but he will also be able to appoint a more conservative judicial court system in the US, following on from his appointment of Brett Kavanaugh last month.

It is certainly evident that the much-maligned presidency of Donald Trump is under a threat that it hasn’t faced before. The Senate gains are certainly a success and shows Mr Trump’s hardcore support base remains. However, the Democratic gains in the House, that include victories in Mid-West states that Mr Trump won in 2016, are visible signs that a Democratic challenge in 2020 will be difficult for Trump to overcome, as a ‘blue wave’ victory in those states in the next Presidential Election will see the Democrats take back the White House.

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