Americans rendered a split verdict on the Congress under President Donald Trump, as Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate by knocking off a series of incumbent Democratic Senators, while Democrats strung together a series of victories in all corners of the country to win back the majority in the House for the first time since big GOP victories in the 2010 elections.
“President Trump called Leader Mitch McConnell to congratulate him on the historic Senate gains,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as she said the President also spoke with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who could be in line to become Speaker for a second time.
For Democrats, their victories in the House were tempered by bruising defeats in the Senate, as incumbents lost in Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota.
In Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) refused to concede, trailing in his re-election race against Gov. Rick Scott (R), while Democratic Sen. Jon Tester was also behind in Montana, as the GOP was poised to add maybe as many as four seats to their Senate majority, up from the bare 51-49 advantage they have currently.
At almost 2 am, President Trump was still watching the returns, and basking in the glow of the big Senate victory, which came after he targeted a number of Democratic incumbents.
One of the few Democrats who was the subject of repeated Trump rallies – but survived – was Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia – he was also the only one who voted for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“Every Democratic Senator in a red state who voted against Judge Kavanaugh has so far lost their election,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).
Democrats were able to win back one GOP seat, as Rep. Jacky Rosen (R-NV) defeated GOP Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.
In the House, Republicans had mocked the idea that Democrats would have a “Blue Wave” sweep over Congress – but in many ways, that did happen, as Democrats picked off seats in a variety of states, powered by a series of victories from female candidates.
Many of the Democratic victories came in districts which had voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but elected a Republican to the U.S. House.
The return to power started in the East, as Democrats flipped three GOP seats in New York, three in New Jersey, three in Pennsylvania, and three in Virginia.
It wasn’t just in the East, as Democrats also added two seats in Iowa, two in Illinois, two in south Florida, two in suburban districts in Texas, and flipped GOP seats in red states like Kansas, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
And if not for some late rallies by a number of GOP lawmakers, the outcome could have been even worse for House Republicans, who will head back to the minority next year.
“Tonight history has repeated itself,” said outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan in a written statement, referring to expected losses for the party that holds the White House. “A party in power always faces tough odds in its first midterm election.”
“One of the things associated with a wave is upsets,” said political expert Stu Rothenberg. “One party significantly outperforms. That is happening in the House.”
“In the House, where the entire country got to vote, Dems are winning with ease,” said elections expert Harry Enten. “Further, there have been some surprises, which is indicative of a wave in my mind.”
One of those upsets was in Oklahoma, where Democrats have been shut out of Congress for a number of years – but then, Kendra Horn unexpectedly defeated Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK).
“When we #FlipThe5th, I will be only the 3rd woman OK has ever sent to Congress,” Horn wrote on Twitter back in January, as she followed through with a win.
“Upset City in Oklahoma!” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).
As of 7 am, there were still almost two dozen races undecided in the House, and four in the Senate, as President Trump scheduled a news conference for 11:30 am ET.
“Tonight was a great night for our campaign and for Democrats across the country,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA).