Voters head to polls in 2018 midterm elections

Pauline Gross
November 8, 2018

Democrats had talked about taking control of the House of Representatives in a "blue wave" all year long, but losing even more seats in the Senate could hardly be called a "blue wave". Some 35 Senate seats were in play, as were nearly 40 governorships and the balance of power in virtually every state legislature.

The first national elections since Mr Trump captured the White House in a 2016 upset became a referendum on the polarising president, and a test of whether Democrats can turn the energy of the liberal anti-Trump resistance into victories at the ballot box.

Republicans now hold 33 governorships and 65 legislative chambers, with Democrats controlling 31 and 2 being tied, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which does not include Nebraska's nonpartisan, unicameral legislature in its count.

Republicans have retained Senate control for two more years.

Some 182 Republican incumbents are defending House seats in districts Trump won in 2016.

In Virginia's 7th District, a Republican-leaning area near Richmond, Republican Representative Dave Brat was trailing Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer.

In southern Oregon, Democrat Jeff Golden, a river guide and public television production manager, edged Republican Jessica Gomez to take Republican Sen. He's running for Senate against the Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

Despite the shocking news that the Rasmussen Reports Generic Congressional Ballot on Monday rated Republicans leading with "likely midterm voters" for the first time by 46 percent to the Democrats' 45 percent, California's Democrat House delegation is busy jockeying to gain powerful leadership positions if the Democrats flip House control.

It could just mark the watershed moment in America's "Year of Women", with record numbers of women nominated for the house, for the Senate and for Governor. And: Will Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker win re-election?

Almost 40 percent of voters cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate, while one-in-four said they voted to express support for Trump. Also, more said they showed up at the polls to express opposition than did those who said they were casting a ballot to support him. Still, Republican voters tended to be overwhelmingly supportive of the president.

"In the end, we hold the House because of the strong economy", the Louisiana Republican told The Associated Press on the eve of Election Day.

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Then he unleashed a torrent of 17 retweets of his postings from the last few days. recalling his rallies. blasting Democrats and endorsing a number of Republican candidates.

As a result, most congressional analysts believe that the one thing that the Democrats in the House will be able to do without help from either the Senate or the President is "oversight". The party has pledged to check the president's power and start a slew of investigations on matters including his tax returns, Russian involvement in the 2016 election and actions by his administration.

As Election Day unfolded, Democrats were increasingly confident, predicting they would pick up at least the 23 seats needed for a House majority on the strength of voter enthusiasm, robust fundraising and unusually fresh candidates.

Only twice since the House reached its current 435 seats, over 100 years ago, has the party of the president gained seats in both the House and Senate.

They paved their path to victory by defeating Democrats Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Missouri's Claire McCaskill.

"Most of the candidates that the president actually went in and campaigned for and who embrace the president are doing well tonight", she said. "Do not let their scare tactics frighten you away from the polls".

Republicans are expected to retain their slight majority in the US Senate, now at two seats, which would let them retain the power to approve US Supreme Court and other judicial nominations on straight party-line votes. About three-quarters of the registered voters named health care as in important issue to their vote, according to recent Pew research.

"It's not just about single issues, it's the values of the country". Their candidate is the very high profile Beto O'Rourke and he's taking on the incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

Still, about one-third of voters said Trump was not a factor in their votes.

"Most [Democratic candidates] were talking about the fact that if Donald Trump is in charge, Americans who have preexisting conditions or any kind of health challenge for themselves or their family, won't be able to buy health care", he said.

"I have worked at this poll the last three elections and this is the biggest turnout ever", said Ms Bev Heidgerken, 67, a volunteer at a polling place in Davenport, Iowa.

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