Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Money | By Hannah Jacobs

GOP clinging to Congress as voters test Trump strength

GOP clinging to Congress as voters test Trump strength

While political pundits may ultimately analyze Tuesday's results as a test of Trump, many Americans will undoubtedly base their vote on factors other than their feelings about the president: economic indicators, health care, tax reform, immigration or just their overall comfort level with the direction the country is headed.

Democratic leadership of the House's powerful investigative committees would breathe new wind into probes of Trump's opaque personal finances, Russian interference in the 2016 election, and even calls for his impeachment. The questions of the hour: Which woman will win the Arizona Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jeff Flake? In almost every state with a key contested Senate or governor's race, he has a positive approval and is over 50%, according to CNN's preliminary exit poll data.

Trump called Pelosi, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and several of the Republican winners.

Polls are now closed in 12 states, which means 41 states have completed voting.

If the Democrats come up short they face another cycle shut out of power.

Two other sources close to the White House said that Trump is already blaming retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan for what the President's team is billing as a bad night.

If Democrats manage to win the House of Representatives, Trump would be left without congressional support to move his agenda forward. "We have a president that is willing to work across the aisle to get things done", she told Fox News.

Most Democratic candidates in tight races stayed away from harsh criticism of Trump during the campaign's final stretch, focusing instead on bread-and-butter issues like maintaining insurance protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and safeguarding the Social Security retirement and Medicare healthcare programs for senior citizens.

Democrats were gaining speed in their quest for the House, which would give them the ability to launch investigations into the president and stymie his agenda.

How the market shakes out in the final two years of Trump's presidency will probably be influenced by Tuesday's elections.

But the Democrats' push into President Trump country remained uncertain.

United States stocks ticked higher in thin trading on Tuesday, as investors awaited the election results. They will retain control of the Senate and are likely to gain seats, and also won governorships in Florida and Ohio. The most important advantage Republicans have is geography. Voters agree. Two-thirds of those casting ballots said their vote was about Trump, according to preliminary exit polls posted by CNN.

So the first reason we can trust the polls in 2018 is because they weren't actually wrong in 2016, at least as far as the popular vote is concerned.

Voter turnout, normally lower when the White House is not at stake, could be the highest for a midterm election in 50 years, experts predicted.

About 40 million early votes were likely cast, said Dr Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who tracks the figures. In the last such congressional elections in 2014, there were 27.5 million early votes. Left-leaning OH "populist" Democrat Sherrod Brown, thought initially to be vulnerable in a state that Trump carried by eight points, was quickly called the victor over Republican congressman and Trump buddy Jim Renacci soon after the polls closed.

They also could force Mr Trump to scale back his legislative ambitions, possibly dooming his promises to fund a border wall with Mexico, pass a second major tax-cut package or carry out his hardline policies on trade.

The result upends the balance of power in Washington, where Trump has enjoyed an easy ride from Republican dominance of both houses of Congress since his shock election in 2016.

The campaign unfolded against a backdrop of jarring political imagery, heated rhetoric and angry debates on immigration, health care and the role of Congress in overseeing the president. Several have history making potential, especially in Florida where Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, is trying to become the state's first African-American governor in an ill-tempered duel with former Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Trump favorite.

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