#2018MidTerms: Understanding the power split between Republicans and Democrats

Lamar Ellis
November 10, 2018

Trump closed out his midterm election rallies with one in Missouri that featured conservative stars, Republican hopefuls, favorite Democratic targets and a little drama.

Democrats won control of the House in Tuesday's elections, but Republicans retained a majority in the Senate. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the former Bernie Sanders organizer who won an upset primary victory over a senior House Democrat, will also head to Congress.

The big victor could be the stock market overall as a hamstrung government leaves in place much of what President Donald Trump has accomplished, but also keeps in check on some of his more extreme actions like trade battles.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who is expected to become head of the House Intelligence Committee, said they will give full support to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe.

With the Democrats in the majority they will have the power to launch investigations and subpoena records, including possibly Trump's tax filings and private business dealings.

With Democrats now preparing for control of the House, still to be decided is if Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will return to her role as House speaker. The new, split reality that Washington woke up to on Wednesday poses stark challenges for the White House, but also presents some political opportunities. "We intend to keep working in this spirit if we get an authorized request for information", he added.

It was not clear what Trump meant by his reference to trade deals.

Trump showed he is mindful House Democrats likely will use their new powers to look into his presidency. He threw himself into the campaign, issuing warnings about a caravan of Latin American migrants headed through Mexico to the USA border and condemnations of liberal American "mobs" he says oppose him.

But under the Constitution's general operating principles, the House and the Senate need to agree in the majority on any laws that are passed, subject to a presidential veto. That was fine with Democrats: "What's even more frustrating than President Trump's intransigence is the way he seems amenable to these compromises before completely switching positions and backing off", Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer observed at the time.

The vote was seen as a referendum on the president, even though he is not up for re-election till 2020.

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Any records Democrats manage to shake out could potentially have an impact on federal lawsuits Democrats are already pursuing against the president.

"With the Democrats taking over the House we will now have to see what gridlock in Congress means for policy. Two can play that game!", Trump wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday.

Almost 40 percent of voters cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, according to VoteCast, while one-in-four said they voted to express support for Trump. "It's very hard to rule out the idea that foreign policy decisions are not being kept separate from business interests".

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it saw no prospects for an improvement in relations following the elections. "These people helped create finally a divided government - and a check on the president".

In a sense, the Senate map offered Republicans a similar kind of structural advantage: There were 35 seats on the ballot around the country, and only nine of them belonged to Republicans. Democrats won the Republican-held seats in Florida, Kansas, Colorado, New York, Virginia, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. But being elected speaker in January requires a majority of House votes.

In a high-turnout election, Democrats added at least seven governorships to their wins, turning out high-profile Republicans like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Despite losing a seat Republicans held for more than four decades, Roskam said he has no regrets.

The Democratic gains were fueled by women, young and Hispanic voters, a Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll found. Fifty-five percent of women said they backed a Democrat for the House this year, compared to 49 percent in the 2014 midterm congressional election.

While embattled Democratic Senators Like Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of IN fell, Democrats picked up a seat IN Nevada as Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen defeated incumbent GOP Sen.

The Georgia race was perhaps the closest watched governor's race in the country, along with Florida, where another Democratic hopeful, Andrew Gillum, lost to a Republican.

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