Democrats successfully took back the House, lost a little more of the Senate and prepare to wrestle with the Trump administration over the upcoming 2020 elections.
The midterms are almost over as Americans prepare to deal with the results. The increase in female voters coupled with the popularity of female candidates made women a significant power this election. Suburban and metropolitan areas were a source of votes for Democrats as disgruntled youth and independents turned out in record breaking numbers, the highest in 50 years according to NPR. Trump supporters also showed up to the polls for the Senate race reducing some of the momentum of the democratic wave.
Two great houses
Democrats had high hopes for the Senate and House of Representatives, but the results were mixed. Dems managed to ride the blue wave right over House Republicans to a majority. With a total of 435 seats, the Dems needed 218 seats to control the House and currently hold 224. There are more races still out, many of which favor of the Democrats. A majority in the House brings control of the committees, powerful organizations within the House run by representatives from the majority party who could implement more oversight over the government and the president.
Talk of gaining access to Trump’s tax returns is a hot topic, but oversight and investigative powers of the president’s cabinet will likely take center stage. Several cabinet members have left in disgrace for reasons ranging from campaign violations to mishandling of funds and the Democratic House now has the will to look into them more vigorously. Control of the lower House also gives the Democrats a real say in the passing of bills, and health care and border security will have to pass through both houses now. Senate seats were a different story for the Democrats. Fighting uphill, the Dems were not expected to take the Senate, but have managed to reduce the number of seats lost holding onto 47 seats with 51 to the Republicans. Two seats remain undecided, Florida and Mississippi.
With an assured majority vote, and enough space to lose one or two votes from their fragmented party, the GOP is going to have the ability to pass through candidates for judicial and other presidentially nominated positions, reducing Democrat opposition to commentary and both parties know it.
Aftermath and Sour grapes The Republicans and Democrats had two tonally opposite press conferences after the elections, both answering the one question on everyone’s mind—what’s next? President Trump had one of his first pressers in months, stating that Republicans who lost their seats did not “embrace” him. While highlighting part of the Republican strategy, he also said that the remaining losses were due to the “hostile” media coverage, a mass retiring of Republican house members and contentious confirmation of the Kavanaugh hearings. He did, however, try to appeal to female voters, a group he lost by 19 points according to CNN. Trump congratulated several female senators who won, including Marsha Blackburn of Arizona (who later lost), and pointed out that Republicans will have a majority of the governorships. He soon returned to a gruffer stance on governing, stating that if House Democrats investigated him or his cabinet he fully intends to retaliate.
As for the plans of the president and his party, Trump bragged about his ability to work with Democrats and his intention to discuss infrastructure, providing “crystal-clean water” and “perfect air,” claiming that the wall is something wanted by many Democrats as well. The conference then devolved into an angry showdown between the president and reporters. Pelosi’s press conference was a little more toned down as she congratulated the winners of her party while acknowledging issues that her party believes affected the vote.
“We had to jump over jerrymandered lines all over the country,” said Pelosi. “When you think how jerrymandered the country is … it is a tribute to the quality of our candidates, the determination of our grass roots folks across the country and the values of our American people.”
She also made the case for her remaining in the leadership position, referring to her role as House Speaker during the Bush administration and her ability to keep the houses running even while opposing the Iraq war. More importantly, she made it clear that her party intends to work with the president and provide more oversight. This will be a point of contention that could grind government to a halt, but Pelosi seemed undaunted, describing oversight as a responsibility.
“Yesterday’s election was a vote not only to restore the protections to health care, it was a vote to restore the health of our democracy,” said Pelosi. “The American people wanted to put an end to the unchecked GOP control of Washington restoring again the checks and balances envisioned by our founders.”
A plan of action and the emphasis of a coequal branch is the focus for Dems who want to “strive for bipartisanship,” making it clear that the Democratic-controlled House intends to fight for its agenda and alleviated concerns that the they have no plan for action beyond opposition.
“We as Democrats are here to strengthen the institution that we serve and not as a rubber stamp for President Trump,” said Pelosi.
All of this concludes with an American legislative body more widely divided as middle of the road Republicans are pushed out in favor of Trump Republicans, who still have a majority of seats on the Supreme Court. Fighting may be the main activity of the next two years for Congress, if the Obama presidency is any indication. Republicans lived for the sake of saying no and remain entrenched on many issues, like gun control, immigration and tax cuts. The 2020 Census will be an opportunity for the Democratic House to redraw House Districts and voting laws are also on the radar for both parties. Balancing much of this remains on the shoulders of a president’s ability to meet both sides in the middle, something Trump has yet to be able to do.
Presidential bids for 2020 are the next big thing and as both parties choose their platforms, a mildly more leftist Democratic party is learning to adjust to new American voters, while Republicans dig in with their core supporters moving far into right field and possibly leaving mainstream America behind.