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8th November 2018

Trump seizes narrative of victory as Republicans retain Senate majority

The Democrats flipped the House of Representatives, but American politics remains bitterly divided as the Republicans extended their Senate advantage
Trump seizes narrative of victory as Republicans retain Senate majority
Photo: Michael Valdon @ Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump proclaimed victory in a turbulent series of House, Senate and Gubernatorial elections last week.

The sitting President claimed that the Republicans had emerged victorious from the midterm elections, despite the Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives.

It is the first time the Democrats have held a majority in the lower chamber since 2010, having surpassed the necessary total of 218 early on the morning of November 7th.

The House results also saw a record-high number of Women elected, with 114 now serving as representatives. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar also became the first Muslim women to take seats in Congress, as the Democratic pair won districts in Michigan and Minnesota respectively.

Nancy Pelosi, formerly the house minority leader, is set to take the position of speaker, a role she previously held from 2007 to 2011, after the Democrat’s win.

The Democrats also re-took a number of states in the gubernatorial contests, most notably the unseating of Scott Walker in Wisconsin. The Republican did Flip Alaska, but it did little to improve the mood over victories in Nevada, New Mexico, and Michigan, among others.

Despite this achievement, Trump’s victory narrative has been maintained by his party’s ability to hold, and even marginally expand their Senate majority. The Democrats had targeted a number of high-profile Republican seats in a bid to take complete control on Capitol Hill but were hit by the losses of Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill in Indiana and Missouri, as Trump managed to stir support in the rural Conservative heartlands that facilitated his 2016 triumph.

There has been serious optimism in the Democratic camp that leading GOP figure and 2016 candidate Ted Cruz would be unseated by the midterm’s poster boy, Beto O’Rourke, whose defeat came down to a difference of around 220,000 votes, as Cruz hung on.

In Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson called for a recount on election night as outgoing governor Rick Scott claimed to have won the race, with as little as 30,000 votes between the pair.

The Republicans are likely to extend their majority into the Senate into 8, holding 54 seats to the Democrats’s 46. It is by no means common practice for an incumbent President to increase their Senate majority in between presidential elections, and the renewed buffer in the upper chamber will give Trump confidence that the Democrat’s control over the lower house can be adequately mediated.

The intrinsic need for bipartisanship in a divided Congress will force Trump to re-address his divisionist strategy, and produce joint consensus on key issues, to avoid his administration suffering a complete policy breakdown.

The Republicans may remain in a position of relative authority in D.C, but the end of two years of full control may see the emergence of a new strain of Trumpism, a more co-operative and logistical approach to the Presidency.

The election’s record turnout, possibly the highest since the 1950s, marks an era of renewed political activism among young people, particularly among College students, were turnout may be the highest in four years, according to Vox.

Internationally, the coverage of, and student interest in, the elections marks one of the greatest involvements of UK-based students in foreign politics, perhaps since the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s.

Discourse on American politics on UK campuses has peaked since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, with the widespread and organised opposition to his visit to the country partly spearheaded by university-organised protest.

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