A dramatic and highly-anticipated midterm elections has provided wins and upsets for both parties. Here is everything you need to know about the results
07 Noviembre 2018 17:10
It was one of the most hotly-anticipated midterm elections America has ever seen. Broadly viewed as a referendum on Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency, both Democrats and Republicans won and lost in key areas. The Democratic Party reclaimed their majority to win the House of Representatives; the Republican Party expanded their majority in the Senate. The governors races also produced mixed results: Democrats won in Michigan, Illinois and, quite surprisingly, Kansas; but it was the Republicans that won big by claiming the two coveted spots on the map in Florida and Ohio, both key swing states that helped pave the way for Trump’s election win in 2016.
Although, at time of writing, not all results have been called, there are many takeaways from this dramatic and historic midterm election run-off. Here is everything you need to know so far.
Democrats needed to secure 218 seats to regain control of the House of Representatives - and they pulled it off. This gives the party sweeping powers to subpoena requests - Republicans have blocked 50 thus far - and to investigate allegations of corruption and misconduct by officials in the Trump administration, including the president himself.
Sitting Democrats have already signalled that they want to obtain and release Trump’s tax returns, which he has failed to do. They will also have the power to prevent the president from shutting down the current FBI investigation that is examining whether there was any Russian collusion in the 2016 election. Other concerns will be that of ethics - members of the Republican Party with corporate conflicts of interest will be targeted.
There has been a lot of speculation about pushing for Trump’s impeachment. As it stands, however, Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi has said that it is not interested in impeachement. This could change following the outcome of Robert Mueller’s FBI investigation though.
A lot of people really don’t like the president. But there are still a lot of voters who think he is doing a good job. The 2018 midterms were seen as delivering a verdict on Trump’s presidency so far. It is true that this is nearly always the case for sitting presidents at midterm elections, but Trump’s divisive and tumultuous tenure proved more of a catalyst for voter turnout than almost anyone in recent US memory.
Early exit polling suggested that two-thirds of voters said that their vote yesterday was about Trump, with more saying they came to show opposition rather than support for the President; nearly four in 10 voters said that their vote was meant as a sign of opposition to Trump.
So, how did Trump fare? The split between the House and Senate - with Democrats taking the former, and Republicans the latter - feels like an appropriate result for the most polarising president in Western politics. His presidency has emboldened his core supporters, including those on the far-right of the Republican Party, and has spawned a wave of activists, voters, and critics all set on overthrowing him at the 2020 election.
At 11:15 pm, when Republicans had cemented their majority in the Senate but Democrats were on their way to taking power in the House, Trump tweeted that the election had been a “tremendous success”. “Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well,” read another tweet, “Those that did not, say goodbye! Yesterday was such a very Big Win, and all under the pressure of a Nasty and Hostile Media!”
What is more likely to capture the essence of the man sitting at America’s highest seat is when he proceeded to threaten Democrats who may call for investigations into his administration. “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”
Women won more seats in Congress than ever before. Democrats hitched their bets on female candidates appealing to the majority of the electorate - women made up 52% of the overall electorate, according to preliminary exit polls - and it paid off. Women went for Democratic candidates over Republicans by 20. According to the Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman, there will now be more than 100 women in the House in 2019 for the first time in history.
Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids have become the first Native American women to be elected to Congress. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first Muslim women. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer, both 29, are the youngest women to be elected. In Colorado, Jared Polis is the first openly gay man to be elected governor. Tennessee also elected its first female senator, Republican Marsha Blackburn.
Although official figures have not been released, one estimate put turnout at 114 million voters, 31 million more than the midterms in 2014. And young people appear to have come out to vote in force. Youth turnout has surpassed 2014 midterm numbers at several colleges across the country, according to the Tom Steyer-affiliated group NextGen. Young people are far less likely to vote in midterm elections than older people, which disadvantages the Democratic Party because they tend to vote more in favour of Democratic policies and candidates.
A poll released by the Harvard University Institute of Politics showed that 40 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they will “definitely vote” in the 2018 midterm elections, compared with just 16% in 2014. The highest ever turnout percentage for the youth vote in midterms is 21%. In Tennessee, Taylor Swift endorsing the Democrats is being credited as the reason for an increase in early voting by young people by 663% compared to the 2014 elections.
Democrats hoped that if the party embraced hopeful liberal leaders in states like Texas and Florida that charisma and progressiveness would prevail. However, this proved itself to be idealistic rather than a reflection of true voting patterns. A beacon of left-wing ideals in Texas, Beto O'Rourke, narrowly lost out to Ted Cruz; Andrew Gillum lost Florida to Republican Ron DeSantis; and Mike DeWine retained his seat in Ohio.
Florida and Ohio are both swing states - perhaps the most important swing states in the whole of America - and the Democrats would have been gunning to win at least one, if not both, seats. Although races were incredibly close, giving hope for the 2020 election, Republican control makes a second term for Trump more likely.
Five states had voting rights issues on their ballots, including Florida, where voters chose to restore the voting right to 1.5m people who were convicted of felonies and have completed their sentences. Maryland also approved a measure that will expand voting rights by allowing same-day registration, and Nevada enacted automatic voter registration when drivers have contact with the department of motor vehicles. However, North Carolina and Arkansas both passed constitutional amendments requiring voters to provide photo IDs to vote, which generally restrict the voting rights of the poor and elderly.
Missouri voted to legalise medical marijuana, and Michigan voted to approve recreational use of the drug. North Dakota, which allows medical marijuana, rejected legalisation for recreational purposes. Utah, a conservative stronghold, voted to legalise medical marijuana.
In relation to women’s rights, Nevada voted to axe ‘tampon tax’, meanwhile two states came out in favour of anti-abortion policies. Alabama passed a constitutional amendment to recognise the “right to life” of fetuses and deny public funding for abortion. West Virginia also passed a constitutional amendment declaring that the state does not protect the right to abortion and restricting public funding for the procedure.
One of the most closely-watched gubernatorial run-offs was in Georgia, between Stacey Abrams - endorsed by Barack Obama - and Republican Secretary of State of Georgia, Brian Kemp. Kemp currently holds a narrow lead of 1,962,547 votes to Abrams’s 1,887,161, but Abrams is refusing to concede until a full count of absentee ballots has been done.
In Georgia, a candidate needs a majority of all votes cast rather than a plurality to win the election. This means that even though Abrams most likely will not get enough votes out of the absentee ballot to actually overtake Kemp, she does stand a chance of doing well enough to push him below the 50% mark. That would trigger a runoff on December 4 , giving Abrams a chance to win, although Democrats have not fared well in runoffs in the past.