Democrats Win Control of House, Creating Divide in Congress

07 November, 2018

The Democratic Party is set to take control of the United States House of Representatives, following the country's midterm elections Tuesday. The Republican Party will keep its majority in the U.S. Senate.

Republicans had gained control of both the Senate and the House in the 2016 elections.

The election is called the midterm because it comes in the middle of the president's four-year term. Midterm elections are historically difficult for the party that holds the presidency.

Americans voted to fill all 435 seats in the House, and 35 of the 100 Senate seats. Americans also voted to fill many local offices, including governorships, and to decide important local issues.

Voters line up to vote at a polling place in Doylestown, Pa., Nov. 6, 2018.
Voters line up to vote at a polling place in Doylestown, Pa., Nov. 6, 2018.

Political experts had mostly expected the Democrats' win of the House.

Democrats, however, did not see the success they had hoped for in some of the closely competitive Senate and gubernatorial races. In fact, they lost ground in the Senate.

Democrats' hopes of winning the Senate majority as part of a so-called "blue wave" were ended after losses in Indiana, Texas, Tennessee and North Dakota. The color blue traditionally represents the Democratic Party. Red represents the Republican Party.

Democrats needed to win 23 Republican-held seats in the House of Representatives to gain a majority. They picked up more than 30.

With House control for the first time in eight years, Democrats have improved chances of blocking some of the goals of President Donald Trump, who is a Republican. They will have the power to investigate Trump's tax returns and possible conflicts of interest, and challenge Trump's policies toward North Korea, Russia and other countries.

They also could slow or block the president's legislative goals related to immigration, tax cuts and building a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., to declare victory for the Democrats.

"We have all had enough of division, the American people want peace, they want results, they want us to work for positive results for their lives."

She added, "Tomorrow will be a new day in America."

Trump called Pelosi late Tuesday to congratulate her. The president also tweeted Tuesday night that the election had been a "tremendous success." He wrote, "Thank you to all."

Health care and immigration were the top issues for voters, public opinion studies from the Associated Press showed. The AP's VoteCast also showed a majority of voters considered Trump a factor in their choices Tuesday.

A record number of women ran for Congressional office, including 185 Democrats and 52 Republicans. Sixteen women ran for governships. At least nine of them won, including Republican Kristi Noem, who will be South Dakota's first woman governor.

Many female candidates were energized by reports of Trump's behavior toward women, the rise of the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and the possible threats to reproductive rights.

Two Democrats became the first Native American women elected to Congress. In Kansas, Sharice Davids beat Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder. And in New Mexico, Deb Haaland defeated Janice E. Arnold-Jones.

Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan also made history, becoming the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress.

Women candidates began the winning wave for Democrats in the House. In northern Virginia, Democrat Jennifer Wexton defeated Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock. Soon after, Donna Shalala of Florida won an open House seat that had been held by a Republican. She defeated Maria Elvira Salazar, another woman candidate. Later in the night, Texas Democrat Lizzie Fletcher defeated nine-term Republican incumbent John Culberson for a House seat.

But Texas Republicans had an important victory in a closely contested Senate race. Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, who also was a 2016 presidential candidate, narrowly beat Democrat Beto O'Rourke.

Texas is a majority Republican state, but observers have said that its fast-changing population may affect that.

Continued Republican control of the Senate means Trump's judicial and other nominees will likely win confirmation to office. The Republican-led Senate also could prevent Congress from removing Trump from office if the House seeks an impeachment process.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

And I'm Caty Weaver.


Words in This Story

challenge - v. to say or show that (something) may not be true, correct, or legal

tremendous - adj. very good or excellent

factor - n. something that helps produce or influence a result

contest - v. to struggle or fight for or against something

incumbent - n. a person who holds a particular office or position