Tags: 2018 Midterm Elections | Trump Administration | midterm | wave | split | house | senate

No Dem Wave, But GOP Loses House in Split Decision

No Dem Wave, But GOP Loses House in Split Decision

Cyclists ride past the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

By    |   Wednesday, 07 November 2018 06:52 AM

Voters in Tuesday’s election delivered a split verdict that gave both Democrats and President Donald Trump room to declare victory, with the result being a new Congress next year that will be just as deeply divided as the electorate that sent them to Washington.

Democrats reclaimed control of the House 220-196, with 21 seats still undecided Wednesday. Nancy Pelosi is the favorite to once again wield the Speaker’s gavel.

It appears Democrats did not flip the massive number of House seats they hoped for six weeks ago when the media was abuzz with talk of a “blue wave,” however.

“This is not going to be the wave election that people like me would have hoped for,” Democratic strategist James Carville said on MSNBC.

Historically, the average number of seats lost by the party controlling the White House in a midterm election is about 30. RealClearPolitics showed Democrats netting 27 seats, with over a dozen races still undecided. The New York Post projected Democrats would gain about 33 seats.

That gain was not enough for former Obama administrative official and commentator Van Jones, apparently. He told CNN: “It’s heartbreaking. It’s not a blue wave but it’s still a blue war.” But he later rebounded and rejoiced over “the end of one-party rule in the United States.”

Republican strategists say the unusual number of retirements this year — over 40 incumbent House Republicans announced they would not run for another term — complicated their efforts to hold onto the House.

“Of course Democrats were going to take the House,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell told Newsmax. “They were always going to take the House — it was only a question of by how much. But everywhere else, it appears the red wall shut down the blue wave, whether it was in Senate races or some of these governor races.”

Democrats fared well overall in the gubernatorial races, jumping from 15 governorships coming into the election to 23 — an impressive net gain of seven.

Republicans, however, continued to control 25 governorships. And they managed to eke out critical victories in two states that figure to loom large in Trump’s hopes of winning re-election, Ohio and Florida, with 47 votes between them. Having friendly GOP governors in those states figures to help Trump frame the political agenda over the next two years and enhance his campaign infrastructure in those vital states.

Republicans also appeared poised to increase their Senate majority, flipping four seats formerly held by Democrats.

These four seats shifting into GOP hands: Florida (Rick Scott over incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson), Indiana (Mike Braun over incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly), Missouri (Josh Hawley over incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill), and North Dakota (Kevin Cramer over incumbent Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp).

Democrats, in turn, appeared to flip one Republican-held Senate seat in Nevada (Jacky Rosen over incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller).

That gave Republicans a net gain of three seats.

There were three other U.S. Senate contests that remained too close to call Wednesday. Republicans were narrowly leading all three:

  • Arizona. The race to succeed outgoing GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, GOP Rep. Martha McSally led Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, 49.3 to 48.4 percent — about 15,000 votes — with 99 percent of the votes tabulated, according to The Associated Press.
  • Mississippi. In the special election battle, the two top finishers, incumbent Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (41.5 percent) will square off against Democratic challenger Mike Espy (40.6 percent) in a runoff to be held Nov. 27.
  • Montana. ith 91 percent of the vote counted as of Wednesday morning, The Associated Press reported GOP challenger Matt Rosendale trails incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester by 49 to 48.1 percent — a minuscule margin of just 4,210 votes out of about 432,000 counted so far.

In a worst-case scenario for Republicans,  they would still score a net one-seat gain if they lose those three seats. Their advantage in the new Congress would then stretch to 52 to 48.

If those three GOP candidates win, however, Republicans would achieve a net gain of four seats in the midterm. They would then enjoy a 55 to 45 Senate majority in the new Congress.

Gaining three or even four Senate seats in a midterm election would qualify as a somewhat historic achievement. Over the last 21 midterm elections, the party whose president occupied the White House lost on average four Senate seats. The last time a Republican president gained Senate seats in a midterm, while losing control of the House, was in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan.
In part, the Republican inroads in the Senate reflect the unusual math this cycle that left 10 Senate Democrats running for re-election in states Trump carried in 2016. The bitterly divisive confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh may have dinged the chances of Democratic incumbents as well.

The tide in the Senate appeared to turn against Democrats early Tuesday evening.

In Florida, gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis jumped out to an 82,000 vote lead over charismatic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, with 99 percent of the vote tallied. Gillum would eventually concede.

Perhaps even more surprising: GOP Senate candidate Rick Scott, also with 99 percent of the vote recorded, led incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by about 52,000 votes. Scott would eventually be declared the winner.

The dual victory took some pundits by surprise, considering a Quinnipiac poll on the eve of the elections showed the Democrats in both races with a 7-point lead over their Republican opponents.

When Republican Mike Braun of Indiana was declared the victor over incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, it represented another big blow to Democrats’ hopes of taking over the Senate.

Reaction to the mixed bag that has characterized the 2018 election varied widely.

“You have to remember Barack Obama lost 13 seats in the Senate and 77 seats in the House between 2010 and 2014,” former George W. Bush White House adviser Bradley Blakeman told Newsmax. “Keeping the status quo and even gaining one is a tremendous victory, because it defies history.”

But Blakeman conceded that losing the House would prove painful.

“It’s still not going to be pleasant having a Democratic majority in the House, even if it’s with a slim majority for Democrats, because they control the committees, they control the agenda,” he said. “And it’s going to be continuing resistance to Donald Trump, gridlock, and investigation after investigation.”

Longtime Democratic strategist and former Fox News pundit Bob Beckel told Newsmax both parties have a lot to ponder based on the midterm election, in the run-up to 2020.

“The obvious headline here is going to be that the Democrats take over the House. But under that,” he added, “I would say that my subhead would be ‘Not much has changed.’”

Beckel said: “Did we witness a fundamental change in American politics? No. Did we witness a coalescing around the direction where both parties were moving anyway? The answer is going to be yes.

“Have we moved anywhere closer in the polarization?” he asked. “The answer is no. So I don’t think that this is earth-shattering by a longshot.”

Trump economic adviser Steve Moore was downright ebullient when Newsmax reached him at an election party. “What a great night!” he exclaimed.

“For Republicans, it was a very good night given that it was a midterm election,” he said. “To pick up seats in the Senate in a midterm election — that’s amazing.”

Trump took to Twitter and hailed the night as a “tremendous success.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement that Trump “called Leader Mitch McConnell to congratulate him on the historic Senate gains.”

Not all Republicans found that much to cheer about on a night when the House speakership slipped into Democrat hands. Longtime Republican Jack Yoest, professor of management and leadership at The Catholic University of America, told Newsmax he’d hoped that given Trump’s record of defying the political odds Republicans would hold onto the House and well as the Senate. But he consoled himself with the fact that Senate Democrats will continue to be in the minority.

“The Senate was really what counts,” Yoest said, “because that’s where the conservative nominees get confirmed is through the Senate. Strengthening there is actually a big win.

“Now, is it still better to hold the House? Of course, for spending bills. But to increase the numbers in the Senate is still a pretty big night.”

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Voters in Tuesday's election delivered a split verdict that gave both Democrats and President Donald Trump room to declare victory, with the result being a new Congress next year that will be just as deeply divided as the electorate that sent them to Washington.
midterm, wave, split, house, senate
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2018-52-07
Wednesday, 07 November 2018 06:52 AM
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