Two years after the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, the Americans were again drawn to the polls. For the ‘midterms’ this time, interim parliamentary elections that determine the course of the country for the coming years. The elections are therefore considered a referendum for President Trump, who today dominates both Congress rooms with his Republican party.
This domination has come to an end: The Democrats have gained the necessary 218 seats to have the House in their hands. The Republicans have 193.
The Senate then remains Republican hands: The Republicans have even increased their majority. They have already achieved 52 seats for the time being, compared with 44 for the Democrats. A party needs 51 seats to have control over the Senate.
Today, Trump reacted for the first time at the elections, which he called “a huge success” despite his Republican party losing the House to the Democrats.
Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
The Democrats have 218 seats in the House, but it remains to be seen how big their majority will be. According to analysts, both the Republican majority in the Senate and the Democratic majority in the House could become quite large. The fact that both Chambers of Congress are now dominated by different parties is the result of interim elections where there was a lot of divisions. The presidential elections of 2020 also promise to be controversial.
A ‘split Congress’ also makes it much more difficult for President Trump to have laws approved, since they must always be approved by both chambers.
Minority leader in the House Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to succeed Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House (that’s the President of the House), stated earlier in the day that the Democrats in Congress will strive for compromises between both parties “But if we do not find a common basis, we will go on and on”.
Strikingly many political firsts
A record number of women participated in these midterm elections – in total more than 230 women competed for the election of the House, mainly for the Democratic party. The results also bring a good number of firsts, both in local politics and on the national stage.
A record number of women have already been elected in the House of Representatives. The counter stands at 89, compared to 84 after the previous election. 77 of those women are Democrat, 12 Republicans. However, the majority of seats in the House will still be occupied by men.
The 29-year-old Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from Queens in New York will be the youngest member of the US Congress ever. She obtained 78% of the votes in the thirteenth district in New York.
The American-Palestinian Rashida Tlaib from Michigan and the American-Somali Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, both Democrat, become the first Muslim women in the House of Representatives. The 42-year-old Tlaib is the daughter of Palestinian refugees. She was born in Detroit, the largest city in the state of Michigan. Omar, 36, is not only one of the first two Muslim women in Congress but will also be the first member with Somali routs. At the age of eight she fled the war in Somalia.
— AJ+ (@ajplus) November 7, 2018
In Kansas, Democrat Sharice Davids was the first female Native American to have a seat in the House of Representatives. Davids is openly lesbian and shares a first with the state of Colorado: with Jared Polis the first openly gay governor has been elected.
In Massachusetts, Ayanna Pressley wrote history after becoming the first African-American woman in the Boston City Council. Now she has also become the first black member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, after defeating Michael Capuano, who already had ten terms, in the Democratic primaries.
Very exciting race in Texas
One of the most exciting election races took place in Texas, traditionally blood red and home of the popular Republican Ted Cruz. Yet Cruz was re-elected as Senator after a thrilling neck-and-neck race but with a narrow lead.
The former musician Beto O’Rourke, a rising star among the Democrats who has been tipped as “a new Obama”, stood for a long time in the standings, but was caught up in the last minute by Cruz, who played in the Republican primaries as possible presidential candidate still against Donald Trump.
Popular with progressive young people and celebrities
O’Rourke, who is very popular among progressive young people and celebrities, such as Beyonce who also comes from Texas, has been in the House of Representatives since 2013. He is for migration and against free possession of weapons. Yet he repeated once again this week that he did not want to stand up in the presidential election of 2020.
Thank you, Beyoncé! pic.twitter.com/wfNJsGvrec
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) November 6, 2018
Texas is a bulwark of conservatives and the Texas Sentinals Seat was considered crucial for the Republicans, which meant a lot of money in the campaign. In the polls in advance, it was thought that Cruz would win easily and largely from O’Rourke, but that turned out not to be the case.
During these midterms, the seats of all 435 deputies of the House and 35 of the 100 senators were at stake. But in addition to new elected representatives and senators, the Americans also elected thousands of posts at the state level.