After a campaign focused on inspiring people to get to the polls through celebrity-laden television and internet campaigns, the Democrats re-took the House of Representatives but lost seats in the Senate as of Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m.
Democrats were projected to seize the majority in the House with 34 new seats, while the Republicans were predicted to pick up three more seats to fortify their Senate majority according to polling site FiveThirtyEight.
The 116th Congress represents major milestones for women and minorities in the country, with the incoming House projected to have more women than ever in U.S. history. Emblematic of this demographic shift is incoming Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids J.D. ’10, who will be the first Native American women to serve in Congress, The Sun previously reported.
Also winning seats were the first Muslim women ever to be elected to Congress: Somali-American Ilhan Omar won Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, and Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib clinched Michigan’s 13th congressional district.
The new majority has the potential to change the game for the Democratic party, who have held a minority in both houses since the 2016 election, which also instilled a Republican administration in the White House.
Democrats were aided by a so-called “Blue Wave,” relying on an uptick in progressive sympathies over the past two years in the wake of the 2016 election — sentiments that current House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) echoed in a speech to supporters on Tuesday night.
“The Democratic Congress will be run with transparency and openness. We will have accountability, and we will strive for bipartisanship,” she told supporters in a speech broadcasted by CNN. “A Democratic Congress will work for solutions that bring us together because we have all had enough of division.”
Democrats needed to flip at least 23 Republican-held House seats in Tuesday’s election in order to retake the majority, which many forecasters — including FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times — projected as a likelihood.
Some Democrats clinched victories despite unfavorable odds, such as incoming Rep. Max Rose here in New York state, who usurped a House seat rated as Republican-leaning by FiveThirtyEight from incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.).
Conservatives are meanwhile focusing on their victories in the Senate, calling the election night a success for the Republican party by citing their confirmed victories in North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana. President Donald J. Trump echoed this narrative, declaring via Twitter that the election was a “tremendous success” in a brief 11:14 p.m. tweet.
Polling and election predictions website FiveThirtyEight gave the Republicans a five out of six chance of keeping control of the Senate, which was confirmed at the polls on Tuesday.
Republican challenger Mike Braun dashed the already-slim hopes of a Democratic-majority Senate early on in the election night: The Times quickly declared at 9:41 p.m. that the Democrats lost the key seat needed to capture the upper house.
As the night grew old, the Red fire wall seemed to hold in key battleground Senate races. Incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz defeated rising Democratic star Beto O’Rourke, who lost by three percent despite a pre-election wave of activism and youth engagement.
As the Republicans parried Senate challengers, they continued to grab Senatorial seats from endangered blue incumbents. By 12:30 p.m., Republican challengers Braun and Kevin Cramer captured formerly-blue Senate seats in Florida and North Dakota, respectively.
“The one thing that I would love to see changed in politics, is it’s gotten way too nasty on both sides,” Mike Braun said in a victory speech recorded by Wall Street Journal. “It should be about ideas, it should be about what you bring to the table, and both sides and their families had to carry that burden and that weight. I hope that changes down the road,”
State governors were elected across the nation. These demographics are considered to be a key indicator of public sentiment for the 2020 presidential election.
One particularly watched run was the defeat of Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who lost to Republican Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) after a vocally liberal campaign and upstart primary success.
“Even though I won’t have the blessing of serving as the next governor of the state of Florida, I still plan to be on the front lines right alongside every single one of you when it comes to standing up for what it is that we believe in,” Gillum told his supporters during a concession speech Tuesday night.
Despite Gillum’s defeat, Democrats picked up five governorships in Illinois, Michigan, Kansas, Maine and New Mexico, bumping the number of blue state gubernatorial leaders to 20 out of 50, with 29 Republicans and one independent.
“Today we as Michiganders came out because we all love this state,” said incoming Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer, who flipped a Republican-held governor’s seat. “We want a Michigan that works for every one of us, no matter where you are born, how much moneys you have in your pocket, what you look like, how you worship or who you love.”
The outgoing 115th Congress made a significant mark through legislation, passing bills on topics ranging from sweeping tax cuts in December 2017 to experimental drug trials for terminally ill patients earlier this year.
One other act performed by Congress was the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which came only after a tense public hearing on sexual assault allegations that inspired debate along and across party lines.
All 435 seats in the House were technically up for grabs, while 35 of the Senate’s 100 seats were put to a vote on Tuesday.