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Tremendous success tonight: Trump puts happy face on House bloodbath

President Donald Trump said Tuesday night that he considered Election Day s ‘tremendous success,’ hours after it became clear that the Democratic Party would control the House of Representatives during the next two years.

‘Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!’ the president tweeted, masking the inevitable anxieties that will come along with a split Congress led, in part, by political enemies who want him leashed or publicly humiliated. 

Democrats who stand to return next year as chairmen of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees are already sharpening their pens and preparing to drag Trump through his own swamp.

‘We probably will’ seek Trump’s tax returns, said Reps. Elijah Cummings and Jerrold Nadler. 

As Tuesday headed to Wednesday, presidential counselor Kelyanne Conway told reporters at the White House: ‘I guess they could try.’

‘I don’t know that there will be much of an appetite … for their members to be spending all of their time, or even most of their time, or a fraction of their time investigating, instigating, trying to impeach or subpoena people,’ Conway said.

Nadler said it was ‘way too early’ to talk about impeaching Trump, but wouldn’t rule it out depending on the results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s expansive Russia probe.

‘He’s going to learn that he’s not above the law,’ he said, according to CNN.

Democrats will control the House for the first time in eight years, giving them the ability to deeply complicate the next two years of Trump’s presidency with investigations, subpoenas and even an impeachment proceeding.

Nancy Pelosi, the 78-year-old former House speaker from California, could return to that role in January, although 58 Democratic incumbents have said they want a fresh face and younger blood to lead them. 

President Donald Trump tweeted 'Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!' after a Tuesday bloodbath that saw his party booted out of leadership in the House of Representatives

President Donald Trump tweeted ‘Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!’ after a Tuesday bloodbath that saw his party booted out of leadership in the House of Representatives

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California has swept her party back into power in the House of Representatives

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California has swept her party back into power in the House of Representatives

Trump faces a referendum on his first two years in office and could end up on the receiving end of new investigations and even an impeachment proceeding with Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives

Trump faces a referendum on his first two years in office and could end up on the receiving end of new investigations and even an impeachment proceeding with Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives

Pelosi, the 78-year-old former House speaker from California, could return to that role in January, although 58 Democratic incumbents have said they want a fresh face and younger blood to lead them

Pelosi, the 78-year-old former House speaker from California, could return to that role in January, although 58 Democratic incumbents have said they want a fresh face and younger blood to lead them

Pelosi's communications director tweeted that the president phoned her right after she delivered a victory speech, acknowledging her 'call for bipartisanship'

Pelosi’s communications director tweeted that the president phoned her right after she delivered a victory speech, acknowledging her ‘call for bipartisanship’

Pelosi, currently the House minority leader, proclaimed that the victory was ‘about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration.’ 

‘Americans can have confidence in everything their Congress works on, from healthcare to taxes to guns to clean air, clean water for our children, when they know the people’s interest will prevail, not the dark special interests,’ she said, pledging ‘accountability’ and ‘transparency.’

‘We have all had enough of division,’ she declared, unmistakably jabbing a rhetorical finger in the direction of the White House. 

Trump called her minutes later, according to her communications director, who tweeted that the president ‘acknowledged the Leader’s call for bipartisanship in her victory remarks.’

The president spent much of Tuesday tweeting and retweeting endorsements of Republicans in tight House races, most of whose districts he hasn’t visited since winning the White House.

The last such praise-by-Twitter went to Illinois congressman Randy Hultgren, whom Trump said was ‘doing a great job. Get out and Vote for Randy – Total Endorsement!’

Hultgren lost his seat hours later to an African-American nurse who will be the first woman and the first minority to represent the district once held by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Control of the House will switch hands in January for the third time in 12 years, representing a level of volatility that the United States hasn’t seen since World War II.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that ‘the president’s agenda isn’t going to change regardless of whose party is there.’

But Democrats will find themselves empowered to launch probes into voting-rights matters and questions about whether Trump has violated the Constitution’s ‘Emoluments Clause’ that prohibits presidents from receiving income from foreign governments.

Security clearances in the Trump White House could also come under close examination, along with prescription drug prices, family separations along the U.S.-Mexico border, gun control and insurance coverage for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. 

Trump himself has no public events on his Wednesday calendar, leaving the nation with few options other than his Twitter feed to discern how he will handle the new normal.

Democrats needed a shift of 23 House seats to claim the gavel. Most forecasters considered that outcome likely but not guaranteed. By midnight they had flipped 26.

With Trump as president, the nation’s off-year political contest took on the character of the World Series instead of the sleepy minor-league affairs they usually are.

At stake was the future of the populist political movement that sent him to Washington. He hoped a win for Republicans would quiet his critics inside the GOP and embolden him for at least two more years of pro-business, ‘America First’ governing that’s hawkish on trade and uncompromising toward illegal immigration.

But a Democrat-led House is likely to cripple his legislative agenda and bring the wheels of government to a halt as his political enemies launch investigations into allegations of election-year collusion with Russia and a growing list of other scandal-ready material.

It could also prompt him to veto legislation that emerges from a split Congress, something he hasn’t had to do so far. 

Republicans kept their majority in the Senate on Tuesday, however, as Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota Democrats were bounced from the upper chamber of Congress, a Texas Republican withstood a tough challenge and a liberal former governor endorsed by pop star Taylor Swift failed to capture a seat vacated by a retiring Republican.

Jennifer Wexton

Barbara Comstock

FIRST BLOOD: Republican Rep. Barbara comstock (right) was bounced from her job by upstart Democrat Jennifer Wexton (left) in Tuesday’s midterm congressional election, the first of what liberals hope is a night full of flips and reversals

Back to Washington: Donna Shalala was the Health and Human Services secretary during the Bill Clinton presidency, and she won a House seat Tuesday as part of a strong night for Democrats

Back to Washington: Donna Shalala was the Health and Human Services secretary during the Bill Clinton presidency, and she won a House seat Tuesday as part of a strong night for Democrats

People at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee election watch party at the Hyatt Regency in Washington reacted to news that Republicans have lost control of the House of Representatives

People at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee election watch party at the Hyatt Regency in Washington reacted to news that Republicans have lost control of the House of Representatives

Senate results came fast and furious, dashing Democrats’ hopes of assembling a majority that could block Preisdent Donald Trump’s future judicial and Cabinet nominees. 

Indiana businessman Mike Braun defeated the incumbent Joe Donnelly, the first GOP pickup of the night; minutes later Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn was declared the winner of her Senate contest in Tennessee, defeating Phil Bredesen for a seat currently held by Sen. Bob Corker.

Corker was Trump-skeptic on foreign policy; Blackburn is a strong ally of the president, who campaigned for her in person over the weekend.

Mitt Romney is also headed to the Senate. The frequent Trump antagonist won easily in Utah, replacing a Trump-friendly Orrin Hatch who is retiring.

Democrats held on to Bob Menendez’s Seate seat in New Jersey, Joe Manchin’s in West Virginia and Sherrod Brown’s in Ohio. But losing Donnelly moved the GOP’s advantage from one seat to two, making it harder to overtake as the night wore on.  

Florida’s statewide races, including a Senate and gubernatorial contest, could stretch into weeks-long recounts. 

Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson was losing to Republican Rick Scott, currently the state’s governor, by just 0.8 per cent, with 97 per cent of voting precincts counted.

Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis led Tallahassee Mayor Andrew by 1.2 per cent in the race to succeed Scott as governor. Gillum hopes to become the first African-American to hold that job. The contest is shaping up to be the most expensive governor’s race in U.S. history. 

Other governor’s races were newsworthy for different reasons. In Colorado, voters elected Jared Polis, the first openly gay man to lead a U.S. state. 

But in Vermont, a blue state that has repeatedly re-elected democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, transgender Democrat Christine Hallquist failed to unseat Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Voting in some parts of the U.S. will continue until well after midnight on the east coast in the midterm elections. The results could take days to sort out in some tight races and the impacts will be felt for years. 

As polls closed one time zone at a time in what politicians on the left and right have called ‘the most important election’ in most Americans’ lives, they drew first blood by knocking off a Republican congresswoman in suburban Virginia and sending a Bill Clinton-era cabinet member back to Washington.

Good news for Republicans: Mike Braun beat Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana, a pickup for the GOP that they need in order to retain control of the upper chamber of Congress

Good news for Republicans: Mike Braun beat Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana, a pickup for the GOP that they need in order to retain control of the upper chamber of Congress

Republican Kevin Cramer unseated Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp on Tuesday, making it tougher to imagine President Trump losing the support of the upper chamber of Congress

Republican Kevin Cramer unseated Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp on Tuesday, making it tougher to imagine President Trump losing the support of the upper chamber of Congress

Florida gubernatorial Democratic candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum

Republican candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis

Florida gubernatorial Democratic candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (left) looked to be losing a historic battle against Republican Ron DeSantis, who is currently a member of Congress

FILE- This Oct. 23, 2018 file photo shows Sen. Bill Nelson campaigning in Orlando. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is challenging Nelson. Florida will vote for governor, U.S. Senate, Cabinet seats, Congress and decide 12 ballot questions. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

HIALEAH, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 05:  Florida governor and Republican senatorial candidate Rick Scott arrives for a Get out the Vote Rally at AmeriKooler on November 05, 2018 in Hialeah, Florida. Governor Scott is facing off against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) on election day. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida governor and Republican senatorial candidate Rick Scott (right) was leading incumbent Democraitc Sen. Bill Nelson (left) as votes were counted Tuesday night

But the larger prize, a blue-wave handing control of the U.S. Congress to President Donald Trump’s liberal detractors, was still a long way from being wished into reality.  

GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock failed to fendoff political newcomer Jennifer Wexton, losing the seat in Congress she has held for just two terms.

Wexton and other Demorcats managed to brand Comstock ‘Trumpstock,’ linking her with parts of the president’s agenda that have grown unpopular in the left-trending suburbs of Washington, D.C.

A Republican has represented voters in Virginia’s affluent 10th Congressional District for 60 of the last 66 years. But the Democrat-heavy base in the suburbs surrounding the ultimate government-run ‘company town’ – Washington, D.C. – has expanded in recent election cycles, devouring previously safe GOP territory year after year.

Democrats got their second win of the night in Florida, where former President Bill Clinton’s Health and Human Services secretary, Donna Shalala, won a House race that was considered a coin flip on Tuesday morning. 

Tuesday’s crucial contests are a referendum on the first two years of Trump’s presidency and will determine how much – or how little – help he will have in Congress during the rest of his first term.

In exit polling published by ABC News and other outlets, Trump received 44 per cent approval for his job performance as president. Fifty-fity per cent disapproved. That’s actually higher than the marks Trump had received in many national polls during the past six weeks.  

A 53-43 majority of voters told pollsters after casting their ballots that they would prefer to see Democrats control the House when the next Congress is seated in January.

Exit polls failed to predict the results of many key elections in 2016, including the presidency, as voters appeared to tell surveyors one thing while doing another.

‘Warning: exit polls are like online dating profiles,’ Robby Mook, who managed Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, tweeted Tuesday. ‘Things may not be as they appear. And they may break your heart.’

Gallup released a poll Tuesday morning that showed Americans by a 50-44 margin believe Republicans will retain control of both chambers of Congress. 

The famed polling organization has put that question to Americans 11 times since 1946. Its results had never failed to predict the outcome before Tuesday.

Voters filled in their midterm election ballots on Tuesday at Mockingbird Vally Soccer club in Louisville, Kentucky

Voters filled in their midterm election ballots on Tuesday at Mockingbird Vally Soccer club in Louisville, Kentucky

Democrat Stacey Abrams of Georgia would be America's first black female state governor if she defeats Republican Brian Kemp in Tuesday's election, buoyed by help from Will Ferrll, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama

Democrat Stacey Abrams of Georgia would be America’s first black female state governor if she defeats Republican Brian Kemp in Tuesday’s election, buoyed by help from Will Ferrll, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama

Twenty-nine-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a House seat in New York's 14th congressional district, making her the youngest woman ever to win a seat, after defeating a ten-term incumbent with an unapologetic message of socialism during the primary season

Twenty-nine-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a House seat in New York’s 14th congressional district, making her the youngest woman ever to win a seat, after defeating a ten-term incumbent with an unapologetic message of socialism during the primary season

Every seat in the House of Representatives was up for grabs on Tuesday, along with 35 of the 100 Senate seats. Voters also decided on 36 races for state governors.

Among them is a contest pitting Democrat Stacy Abrams against Republican Brian Kemp for Georgia’s governor. Abrams, buoyed by support from Oprah Winfrey and former President Barack Obama, would be the first black female state governor in American history if she wins.

In Kansas, Republicans took a tough loss when Kris Kobach, the state’s secretary of state and a tight Trump ally, lost his bid for governor of the firmly red state to Democrat Laura Kelly.

Critical Senate races featured familiar faces like the victorious fire-breathing conservative Republican Ted Cruz of Texas, and also new faces like his Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke.

And New Yorkers sent 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a democratic socialist, to the House of Representatives – making her the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress.

Democrats aimed to take over both the House and Senate in what pundits called a ‘blue wave.’ President Trump watched the results in the White House while the nation he leads considered whether to put a leash on him.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders reminded the press corps after the first polls closed that Trump had spoken at 30 political rallies in the past two months alone,’energiz[ing] a staggering number of Americans at packed arenas and in overflow crowds.’

The president hopes to continue ‘defying midterm history and protecting the GOP’s majorities,’ she said.

Voters in Midlothian, Virginia waited in a long voting line in the rain outside a polling station located at Robious Middle School

Voters in Midlothian, Virginia waited in a long voting line in the rain outside a polling station located at Robious Middle School

In the Senate a swing of just two seats would cost Republicans their gavel. But the realities of America’s electoral map make it a harder task than flipping the House.

Democrats are defending 26 of the 35 contested Senate seats. Ten of those are in states Trump won by wide margins in 2016. 

Of the nine Republican incumbents trying to save their jobs, just four are considered ‘safe.’

The first two winners of the evening were liberals in their own easy-layup elections. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were both expected to gallop to new six-year terms, and did.

Indiana’s Senate race is one that Trump considers a critical pickup opportunity; he traveled there twice in the past week. Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is a particularly vulnerable incumbent in a state that gave Trump a 19-point victory over Clinton two years ago. 

Donnelly sought to position himself as a centrist, having reached Congress by defeating tea party-backed Republican Richard Mourdoch. 

Republican businessman Mike Braun has torn into Donnelly at every opportunity, and the president used his Twitter account to follow suit. 

Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid, warned Tuesday about putting too much faith in exit polls like the ones that made his boss overconfident two years earlier

Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid, warned Tuesday about putting too much faith in exit polls like the ones that made his boss overconfident two years earlier

Trump appeared Monday in three separate states for rallies, making his final sales pitch in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and sharing the stage briefly with press secretary Sarah huckabee Sanders

Trump appeared Monday in three separate states for rallies, making his final sales pitch in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and sharing the stage briefly with press secretary Sarah huckabee Sanders

Tennessee’s Senate race is a different picture, with Republican Bob Corker’s retirement presenting Democrats with a chance to steal a seat and Republicans putting up a Trump favorite in Rep. Marsha Blackburn. 

The president campaigned for Blackburn, who served on his transition team. She had a five-point advantage over her Democratic opponent, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, heading into Tuesday’s election, according to the average calculated by Real Clear Politics.

Early voting among young people is a wildcard, though, since pop star Taylor Swift offered Bredesen her endorsement. Nearly 100,000 young people, a nearly seven-fold increase from the last midterm in 2014, have already voted, according to The Tennessean.

The most expensive Senate race was a bitter Texas battle that saw conservative Republican Sen. Ted Cruz beat his challenger, Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Cruz led in the polls for weeks, but O’Rourke gave him enough of a political scare that he campaigned like a man who was afraid he might lose, holding 50 rallies in the past six weeks and bringing in his former 2016 rival Donald Trump. 

O’Rourke,a two-term congressman from the Texas-Mexico border region, exploded onto the national scene with his extensive use of social media and a record-setting $38 million raised in the third quarter, giving him a war chest presidential candidates would envy.

He could easily become a 2020 presidential contender, something he denies interests him.

One closely-watched race was in Texas, where Republican Ted Cruz – who fought Trump for the presidency in 2016 – won a close contest with Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke

One closely-watched race was in Texas, where Republican Ted Cruz – who fought Trump for the presidency in 2016 – won a close contest with Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke

Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the 2018 Democratic Candidate for Senate in Texas, left his polling place with his family after voting on Tuesday

Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the 2018 Democratic Candidate for Senate in Texas, left his polling place with his family after voting on Tuesday

If the Senate should go ‘blue,’ Trump would lose the practical ability to appoint more federal judges – including Supreme Court nominees – and replacements for cabinet members who are likely to walk away after two years in office.

Should Democrats win control of both chambers of Congress, an impeachment mood would sweep Washington, forcing the White House to play constant defense until 2020.

And that would be happening against a cultural backdrop framed by a series of voter initiatives – single-issue questions forced onto ballots through petitions or other exercises in more direct democracy. 

The president hinted on Monday that he senses the possibility of a quiet voter revolt that pollsters can’t measure, similar to the one that sent him to Washington two years ago. 

He said at allthree of his final campaign day’s rallies that Republicans might shock the world again no matter what the political press corps predicts.

‘There is something going on, Ohio, that they’re not talking about,’ he said in Cleveland after greeting about 6,000 people in a sea of red hats.

‘There’s an electricity like people have not seen since a date in 2016. November,’ Trump said, adding later that ‘we defied the pundits and the critics. We rejected them.’    

In Florida a close contest for the governor’s seat is taking place between Andrew Gillum (left) and Ron DeSantis (right), who is a close ally of Trump

Stacey Abrams is looking to become the first female African American governor in US history in Georgia, where she is taking on Brian Kemp

Stacey Abrams is looking to become the first female African American governor in US history in Georgia, where she is taking on Brian Kemp

Progressive momentum? Jared Polis, Democratic candidate for Colorado's governorship, appeears headed to be the first openly gay man to hold that job

Progressive momentum? Jared Polis, Democratic candidate for Colorado’s governorship, appeears headed to be the first openly gay man to hold that job

He also took credit for the resurgence of the midterm elections as a media phenomenon.

‘You know the midterm elections used to be, like, boring, didn’t they?’ he asked his screaming fans. ‘Do you even remember what they were? People say midterms, they say, “What is that? What is it?” right? Now it’s like the hottest thing.’

Trump threw his weight behind efforts to hold the Senate, engaging in a whirlwind series of rallies that saw him stumping in 11 cities over five straight days.

His late efforts might be wasted in portions of 37 states and the District of Columbia, however, where voters can cast their ballots early.

At least 36 million Americans voted before Election Day, many of them before the president engaged at full-throttle. 

Trump downplayed that Monday in Ohio, suggesting that it won’t be any more of a factor than it was in 2016.

‘I remember they said, “Well, the people are sort of holding for Tuesday”,’ he said, recalling his victory two years ago. ‘And did you show up on Tuesday!’ 

The president’s job approval rating ranges from 42 to 51 per cent nationally, and polls show an even wider swing in voters’ party preference going into Tuesday’s contests.

A CNN poll released Monday morning had Democrats leading Republicans by 13 percentage points when voters were asked which party’s candidate they were likely to support in a congressional race.

A Politico poll released at the same time showed that gap was just 3 points, in a survey with a 2-point margin of error. 

 

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