NEW YORK – Initial results from the 2018 midterm elections promise a long and suspenseful night that will ultimately yield the results that everyone expected. Fox News was first to project that the Democratic Party will take control of the House of Representatives, with MSNBC following in its wake. Republicans will continue to rule the Senate, returning with what seems likely to be a greater majority than their current two-member margin.
But while the result won’t be seen as sensational, because the pollsters and prognosticators got things right and have been projecting this very result for weeks, that should not detract from the dramatic impact the changeover in the House will have on the future of the United States in general, and the Donald Trump presidency in particular.
The two-year era of absolute Republican dominance of Washington is over. Trump will now face a confrontational House of Representatives, which will block his legislation, withhold his budgets and, as an opening gambit, demand to see his tax returns.
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And the Democrats will have ample opportunities to launch myriad congressional investigations against Trump via the 20 standing committees they will now head – never mind the very real likelihood that sooner or later Democratic congressmen will launch impeachment proceedings.
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The blue wave, as Democratic voter enthusiasm was dubbed, was apparently big enough to ensure a takeover of the House, but fell far short of the Tea Party tsunami that cost Democrats 63 House seats in the 2010 midterms.
Trump deserves much of the credit: He succeeded in energizing his electoral base in the final stages of the campaign and probably saved Republican seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The close races in Florida for senator and governor, which have attracted national attention, can be directly linked to Trump’s campaigning.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s razor-thin victory over rising Democratic superstar Beto O’Rourke could also be linked to Trump’s support. Many Democrats are secretly pleased with O’Rourke’s strong performance, which exceeded all expectations, as well as with his loss, which will allow him to launch preparations for a 2020 run for the presidency, which many support.
But while Trump has undoubtedly prepared in advance a list of scapegoats he will blame for the loss of the House, exit polls clearly indicate his role: 55 percent of voters said they did not approve of Trump’s conduct, and another 56 percent said the United States was headed in the wrong direction.
Many Republicans are convinced that Trump’s scare tactics in the latter part of the campaign may have spurred more Democrats than Republicans to come out and vote, but Trump will claim that his tactics, however deplorable, saved the Senate for the GOP and averted a far worse defeat.