Wake Up To Politics - November 7, 2018
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, November 7, 2018. 727 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Democrats take over House, Republicans hold Senate
The American people delivered a split verdict in the midterm elections on Tuesday, ushering in a new Democratic majority in the House even as Republicans were able to expand their Senate majority.
So far, Democrats have won 219 House seats to Republicans' 193 (a majority is 218; 23 seats are yet to be called), netting 26 seats in the blue column. The Democratic victories — largely centered in the nation's suburbs, fueled by anti-Trump energy among women and minority voters — bring an end to two years of complete Republican control in Washington, promising to aggressively counter the Trump administration that has largely gone unchecked thus far. According to the New York Times forecast, the Democrats are on track to win 229 seats when all of the votes are counted, an 11-seat majority — less than some had expected going into Election Day, but enough to ensure Democratic control of the lower chamber.
Republican House seats were flipped across the map, mostly in suburban districts carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 (in states such as Colorado, Virginia, New Jersey, and Florida), but also in traditionally conservative states (including Arizona, Iowa, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Kansas).
At the same time, Republicans were able to add seats to their majority in the Senate, toppling Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Claire McCaskill (MO), and Joe Donnelly (IN). Democrats have so far been able to defeat one Republican incumbent, with Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) beating Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), 50% to 45%. With races in Montana, Arizona, and Florida yet to be called (and a Mississippi special election poised to go to a December runoff election), the makeup of the next Senate currently stands at 51-45; the Times projects that it will end up at 53-47, a net gain of two seats for Republicans.
Democrats have also managed to flip seven GOP governorships, in Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Maine (with races in Connecticut, Georgia, and Alaska yet to be called). Members of the party were particularly animated by defeating Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), a longtime Democratic target, and Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, a top Trump ally who was running for the state's governorship.
Even as Democrats were able to flip so many House seats and statehouses, a number of the party's top recruits fell short, including two progressive African-Americans seeking governorships in the South: Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia (whose race has yet to be called, although she is trailing, 49% to 51%). Both campaigns were heavily influenced by race, against the backdrop of Trump-led Republican rhetoric across the country seen as inflaming racial tensions.
Additionally, despite early signs in his favor, Democrat Beto O'Rourke ultimately failed to defeat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, who won 51% to 48%.
Both sides were able to declare victory based on Tuesday's results. "Tremendous success tonight," President Donald Trump tweeted after 11pm Eastern Time, despite the widescale repudiation of his presidency seen at the House level. "Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well," he said in a tweet this morning. "Those that did not, say goodbye! Yesterday was such a very Big Win, and all under the pressure of a Nasty and Hostile Media!" Indeed, most of the Senate and gubernatorial candidates he campaigned for in the last week emerged victorious on Tuesday, including Sens.-elect Josh Hawley (R-MO), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Govs.-elect Mike DeWine (R-OH), Brian Kemp (R-GA), and Ron DeSantis (D-FL), some of his highest-profile allies who were on the ballot.
Many of the Republicans headed to Washington were able to win by embracing President Trump, continuing Trump's makeover of the GOP in his own image. One potential exception: 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, once a leader of the "never Trump" movement, who won an open Senate seat in Utah.
Trump spoke to Republican congressional leaders on Tuesday night, as well as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who is likely to reclaim the Speaker's gavel after surrendering it to Republicans eight years ago, in 2010. "Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America," Pelosi declared in remarks to supporters on Tuesday, adding that the Democratic victory was "about restoring the Constitution's checks and balances to the Trump administration."
When the new Congress takes office in January, House Democrats are expected to begin aggressive oversight of President Trump and his executive branch, which could even lead to articles of impeachment; new Democratic chairmen are expected to haul a large range of Trump officials before their committees, and possibly even attempt to subpoena the president's tax returns as well. Trump tweeted this morning about the expected onslaught of Democratic investigations in the House, threatening to increase investigations of them at the Senate level. "Two can play at that game!" he said, suggesting that his relationship with the incoming Democratic House leadership will begin adversarial. The extent to which the two parties will be able to work together in the next two years of divided government remains to be seen.
If she remains atop her caucus, Pelosi, who became the first female House speaker in history in 2007, will lead a majority that includes a record number of women: for the first time ever, more than 100 women were elected to the House on Tuesday. Included among the Democratic victories were the first Native American women elected to Congress (Sharice Davids in Kansas and Deb Haaland in New Mexico), the first Muslim women elected to Congress (Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota), and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress (New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29).
With the 2018 midterms behind them, jockeying for the 2020 elections is expected to begin right away: many potential Democratic presidential contenders were among the party's most sought-after surrogates this year, including Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Joe Biden. Their shadow presidential campaigns are soon expected to move into the open in the weeks and months ahead.
Races yet to be called
Here are the results in key races that have yet to be called, as of 8am.
- Montana (currently held by Democrat Jon Tester): Republican Matt Rosendale, 48.9%; Tester, 48.2%. 83% reporting
- Arizona (currently held by retiring Republican Jeff Flake): Republican Martha McSally, 49.3%; Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, 48.4%. 99% reporting.
- Florida (currently held by Democrat Bill Nelson): Republican Rick Scott, 50.2%; Nelson, 49.8%. 100% reporting.
- Georgia (currently held by term-limited Republican Nathan Deal): Republican Brian Kemp, 50.5%; Democrat Stacey Abrams, 48.6%. 100% reporting.
- Connecticut (currently held by retiring Democrat Daniel Malloy): Democrat Ned Lamont, 48.1%; Republican Bob Stefanowski, 47.4%. 91% reporting.
- Alaska (currently held by Independent Bill Walker, who suspended his re-election campaign): Republican Mike Dunleavy, 45%; Democrat Mark Begich 37.5%; Libertarian Billy Toien, 15.8%. 98% reporting.
- Of the 23 seats yet to be called, Democrats lead in nine of them and Republicans lead in 14.
*All results and race calls are according to Associated Press totals.
WUTP on the ground: MO-SEN
I was tracking results from the press section of the Claire McCaskill election night watch party in Missouri. Despite enthusiasm at Democratic wins in the House, the mood there was pretty somber all night as Sen. McCaskill was defeated by Republican state attorney general Josh Hawley.
McCaskill conceded defeat before a mostly-empty ballroom at about 11:45pm Eastern Time, thanking her family, staff, and supporters. "We fell short, and that's disappointing," she said, while promising to continue speaking her mind. "I'm not going away...For now it is goodnight, but it is not goodbye," she added. "This state drives me crazy, but I love every corner of it," McCaskill said.
The party wrapped up pretty quickly after McCaskill left the stage, as her tearful supporters hugged each other and went home. With Hawley set to replace the two-term Democrat in the Senate, Democrats now hold a single statewide elected office in Missouri, likely cementing the years-long Republican takeover of the former bellwether state.
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White House schedule
POTUS: President Trump has no public events scheduled, but he announced on Twitter this morning that he will hold a news conference at the White House at 11:30am. "Will be discussing our success in the Midterms!" he added.
VP: Vice President Mike Pence has no public events scheduled.
Both chambers of Congress are on recess.
*All times Eastern