Democrats gain control of the House and Republicans keep the Senate as the 2018 Midterm Elections came to a close on Tuesday night. Many outlets, including FiveThirtyEight, a data-driven political news outlet based in New York City, project that by the end of the vote count, the House will see a 34-member gain by Democrats, shifting majority control over to the Democrats for the first time since 2012.
In the Senate, Republicans are projected to keep control of the Senate by a wider margin than was initially anticipated, gaining victories in key swing-state races that Democrat incumbents struggled to hold onto.
The biggest House races of the night included Oklahoma 5th and South Carolina 1st, where Republican candidates who looked posed to hold onto their incumbencies were unseated by unlikely Democratic candidates. In the Senate, GOP candidates like Missouri’s Josh Hawley and Indiana’s Steve Braun outperformed their projected numbers to beat out moderate Democratic incumbents Claire McCaskill and Joe Donnelly respectively. Democrats, however, were able to create upsets of their own, specifically in Nevada, where Democratic congresswoman Jacky Rosen unseated Republican incumbent Dean Heller by a 5-point margin.
By far the most publicized and most expensive race in the country, Texas’ Senate race, ended in a closer bout than Republicans anticipated, with Republican incumbent Ted Cruz squeezing out a narrow 2.6-point victory over Democratic challenger, Congressman Beto O’Rourke. Following the race, where over $70 million was donated to O’Rourke’s campaign, there came speculation that O’Rourke may make a presidential run in 2020.
Another race featuring a strong Democratic candidate who ended up not prevailing was Florida’s gubernatorial election, where Congressman Ron DeSantis won in an upset against Democratic frontrunner and Mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum. Gillum would’ve been the first African-American ever elected to Florida’s governorship.
A great deal of history was also made in this year’s general election. Kansas 3rd elected the first Native American female to Congress in American history. The first Muslim women ever was elected to Congress in Michigan 13th and Minnesota 5th districts, as well as the former congressman from Minnesota 5th and first Muslim in Congress, Keith Ellison, winning Minnesota’s race for Attorney General, becoming the country’s first Muslim Attorney General.
Women made major gains in races nationwide. According to NPR, 95 women won congressional races in the midterms, 13 of which won Senate seats. This will bring the number of women serving in the incoming 116th Congress to be 118, the youngest of which being 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who earlier this year comfortably beat out 10-term Democratic incumbent congressman Joe Crowley in the New York primaries.
There were notable female victories in gubernatorial races as well. Among these was in Maine’s race, where state Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, easily won the Maine governorship over Republican challenger Shawn Moody, a car dealership owner. She will be the first female Governor in Maine history, replacing the unpopular term-limited Republican Governor, Paul LePage.
In addition to gains in female representation, the LGBTQ+ community made electoral gains as well. Jared Polis, a Colorado congressman, became the first gay Governor in American history. In addition, Chris Pappas became the first gay man to be elected to Congress in New Hampshire. And despite her loss in Vermont’s gubernatorial race, Democrat Christine Hallquist became the first transgender individual to be a major party nominee in a race for governor.
The major sweep among Democratic candidates will surely create an entirely new political dynamic for the Trump Administration. While the Senate may continue to operate as a GOP majoritarian environment, the House will seek to reform its political structure to add a new check on presidential power, which is likely to produce a contentious atmosphere in the West Wing.