Republicans retained Senate control Tuesday after ousting Democratic incumbents in Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri, delivering a victory to President Donald Trump by preserving the chamber as a showplace for his conservative priorities for two more years. Still, while Bill Clinton and the Democrats lost 54 seats to Republicans in 1994, and Barack Obama and the Democrats lost 63 seats to the Republicans in 2010, it doesn't look like Donald Trump and the Republicans will lose almost that many seats to Democrats in these 2018 midterms.
Heading into Election Day, Republicans had said their best-case scenario after Tuesday's voting was a narrower House GOP majority than the 45-seat margin they now command. Health care was mentioned by nearly twice as many voters as the next most common issue, immigration.
Early returns showed Democrats poised to pick up the 23 House seats they needed to gain a foothold in Congress from which to counter Trump.
They also could force Trump to scale back his legislative ambitions, possibly dooming his promises to fund a border wall with Mexico, pass a second major tax-cut package or carry out his hardline policies on trade.
Voter turnout in national elections, normally lower when the White House is not at stake, could be the highest for a midterm election in 50 years, experts predicted.
The Democrats, in turn, benefited from extraordinary voter enthusiasm, robust fundraising and unusually fresh candidates.
"We've got to get down to work as soon as we are sworn in on January 3 and make some real change come about. we're going to have a lot of brand new members - many of whom will come from tough districts, many of them that never served in any elected office in their higher lives".
The incumbent Democratic Senator Jon Tester is in a battle for survival against his Republican opponent Matt Rosendale. He predicted an "invasion" from the migrant caravan making its way toward the US and decried the "radical" agenda of speaker-in-waiting Pelosi.
The newly empowered House Democrats will have the ability to investigate Trump's tax returns, possible business conflicts of interest and allegations involving his 2016 campaign's links to Russian Federation. "I feel confident we will win", House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday, decked out in a bright blue dress at her party's headquarters in Washington, D.C.
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.
The Democratic gains were fuelled by women, young and Hispanic voters, a Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll found. Fifty-five percent of women said they backed a Democrat for the House this year, compared to 49 percent in the 2014 midterm congressional election.
They also promised to clean up government.
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CNN projects that Republicans will keep control of the Senate, a result that was not unexpected but still never assured in this unpredictable political environment until voters had their say.
Potential 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls who seemed certain to win included Vermont independent Bernie Sanders and New York's Kirsten Gillibrand.
Jennifer Wexton, a Democratic state lawmaker, was ahead of two-term Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock by 57% to 43% in their suburban northern Virginia district that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, NBC reported.
And outside Richmond, Virginia, one-time tea party favorite Rep. Dave Brat lost to Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative motivated to run for office after the GOP vote to gut the Affordable Care Act. Democrats blamed the charged political atmosphere for the increase in anti-Semitism.
Some of the biggest problems Tuesday were in Georgia, a state with a hotly contested gubernatorial election.
And in West Virginia - where Trump is wildly popular and campaigned heavily for Republicans - the reelection of Democratic Sen. Davids is also openly gay.
Four of the 16 women running for Governor could become the first women elected to such positions in their states. The Republican side of the aisle elected mostly white men.
By the NCSL's record, Republican dominance of state legislatures is at a historic high. Nevada could be more important, because Dean Heller is the most vulnerable Senate GOP incumbent in the nation, and Democrats probably need to win his seat to seize the majority. Other Democrats fighting for political survival included Missouri's Claire McCaskill, Indiana's Joe Donnelly and Bill Nelson of Florida.
The GOP campaign committee distanced itself from eight-term Rep. Steve King of Iowa after racial remarks, and his seat was unexpectedly contested in the final week of the campaign.
"We always knew these races are going to be close", said Rep. Katherine Clark of MA, co-chair of House Democrats' recruitment efforts. The first polls, on the East Coast, close at 7 p.m. ET.
Trump added that "we don't care about momentum when it comes to a disgrace like just happened to our country".