Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives but lost ground in the Senate following a contentious campaign that President Donald Trump worked to make all about him.
Democrats picked up at least 23 House seats in tallies early Wednesday, putting them within reach of the 218 seats needed to take control from Republicans, the Associated Press projected.
However, Democrats’ hopes of an overwhelming “Blue Wave” in both chambers of Congress and in governors races was dimmed as losses in at least three key Senate races — including Beto O’Rourke in Texas — meant Republicans would have control of the Senate with an even bigger majority.
Republicans also won the Florida governor’s mansion, with Ron DeSantis overtaking Andrew Gillum. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams trailed Brian Kemp early Wednesday, but the race was still too close to call. In total, however, Democrats flipped 5 governorships – including in deep red Kansas where Laura Kelly defeated right-wing darling Kris Kobach.
What does this mean for Trump?
The Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, delivering a bitter blow for Donald Trump after a campaign that became a referendum on his leadership.
The Republican Party went into Tuesday’s elections in control of the chamber with a 43-seat majority. However, Democrats rode a wave of dissatisfaction with the US President to gain the 23 seats needed to win control of the House.
The lower chamber of the US Congress, the House is made up of 435 seats. The number of seats each US state receives depends on its population size. California, the most populous state, has 53 representatives while seven states – Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming – have just one representative.
“Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America,” Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi told cheering Democrats at a Washington victory party, saying House Democrats would be a check on Mr Trump.
“We will have a responsibility to find our common ground where we can, stand our ground where we can’t,” Ms Pelosi said.
Now the Democrats have won the House, they get to decide which bills come to the floor – meaning President Donald Trump’s domestic agenda will struggle to make its way into law.
The party with a majority in the chamber also controls its committee chairmanships and has the power to issue subpoenas – so a Democrat-controlled House could enforce aggressive oversight of investigations of the president’s administration, including alleged Russian collusion, Mr Trump’s business dealings and sexual assault allegations against him.
Pundits predict Democrats will launch controversial investigations into things like Mr Trump’s tax returns and his previous business dealings. They may also seek public hearings with members of the Trump family, including his son Donald Jr who appears to be a key figure in the Russia investigation.
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.
A simple House majority would be enough to impeach Trump if evidence surfaces that he obstructed justice or that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia. But Congress could not remove him from office without a conviction by a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate.
House Democrats could be banking on launching an investigation using the results of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s already 18-month-old probe of allegations of Russian interference on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 presidential election. Moscow denies meddling and Trump denies any collusion.
Democrats on the House oversight committee, the chamber’s main investigative panel, had already suggested they were prepared to issue subpoenas if they gain control.
Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, said: “If Democrats win the majority in November, we would finally do what Republicans have refused to do, and that is conduct independent, fact-based, and credible investigations of the Trump administration”.
Mr Cummings said their investigations would “address issues like the security clearance process, conflicts of interest, the numerous attempts by Republicans to strip away healthcare from millions of Americans, postal service reforms, prescription drug pricing, and voting rights”.
Republicans have, however, held on to the Senate, meaning they will continue to approve Mr Trump’s cabinet nominees and appoint conservative judges to US courtrooms.