US Midterms: Democrats Rejoice at House Victory

When America sneezes, the world catches a cold. 

This old adage may not be as true as it once was, but in this age of populism and division, the US midterm elections were watched throughout the world. For those of you who did not want to stay up all night watching the results come in, here’s a run through.

The United States has 2 chambers of Government: 435 districts in the House of Representatives,  elected every 2 years, and 100 Senators, elected every 6 years. However, the Senate seats aren’t elected all at the same time; instead 1/3rd of the Senate is elected every 2 years serving 6-year terms.

After the 2016 elections, the Republicans controlled all 3 branches of Government: Donald Trump as President, and Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. The polls going into the 2018 Midterms elections suggested that the Democratic party would make gains in the House and Republicans make moderate gains in the Senate.

Surprisingly, the polls were correct. Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives, with gains of around 30 seats, although the full margin of victory won’t be clear for several days.

The Republicans kept control of the Senate by defeating 3 Democratic incumbents, despite losing one of their own. Key Senate races in Arizona, Montana and Florida weren’t called on election night, meaning it remains to be seen how large the Republican majority will be.

A divided Government isn’t unusual in the US, and Democratic control of the House is crucial. Firstly, it gives Democrats greater control over legislation, and could stop or delay Trump’s and Republican’s agenda. Secondly, it gives Democrats the power to start investigations, using House Committees, into the Trump administration. This might include looking into the 2016 election, and any possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian hacking, potentially even leading to the impeachment of Trump. Furthermore, as most legislation in the Senate needs 60 votes, not just a pure majority of 50 votes to pass, the Democrats still hold some control over legislation in both chambers.

Governor’s races were good for Democrats but not without disappointment, especially in Florida where Democrat Andrew Gillum lost to Republican Ron DeSantis in a race Democrats had high hopes for. Republicans held their Governorships in Democratic states of Massachusetts and Maryland, as well as in battleground states of Ohio and Florida. Yet Democrats gained 6 Governorships, including traditionally-Republican Kansas, and finally defeating Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

This election year, minority groups in particular had great victories. The first 2 Muslim female representatives were elected to the House, as well as the first openly gay male Governor in Jared Polis in Colorado. He follows Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, a bisexual woman who was the first openly LGBT person to be elected Governor.

The next Congress will also have the largest ever number of women, with over 110 female members, including the youngest ever woman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at 29. Furthermore, the first 2 Female Native Americans were also elected to Congress, meaning Congress is becoming more diverse than ever.

It will be interesting to see what investigations are carried out and what legislations will be blocked by the Democrats in the next few years.

Matthew Plant

Image: [Pixabay]