After a long, hard-fought, and often bitter campaign, the parties battled to a partisan draw. As expected, Democrats took over the House of Representatives. Democrats also flipped a number of Governors’ mansions, but lost some of their high-profile targets.
The party in power usually does poorly in midterm elections, but the Republicans grew their majority in the Senate and stymied any Democratic hopes of a “blue wave.” Looking deeper at the results, Democrats had their most important victories in suburban areas, while rural areas continued their trend of getting redder. This deepening divide will likely only escalate the divisiveness in Washington.
On a state level, seasoned political observers are closely watching the realignment of state control and its impact on congressional redistricting. Democrats lost over 900 state legislature seats in the past decade after states redrew districts following the 2010 census. Prior to this election, Republicans controlled roughly two-thirds of the state legislative chambers. Democrats made substantial gains by flipping six state legislative chambers from Republican control and making progress in many others. This, along with their wins in Governors’ races, will aid Democrats in redrawing congressional districts following the 2020 census, which has ramifications for the following decade.
Looking forward, Republicans will make an effort in the next month to clear the deck of pending legislation they would like to see passed while they still retain control of Congress. Party leadership for the next Congress will be voted on later in November, and committee leadership will be determined in December.
With the start of the next session, we anticipate the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will focus on investigating the Trump administration, health care, reinstating earmarks, and looking for common ground on an infrastructure package. The Republican-controlled Senate will continue its focus on the judiciary and may likely join the House of Representatives in supporting the return of earmarks. There will be significant legislative attempts by both chambers, but only moderate, consensus legislation will be able to succeed. Each chamber will push messaging legislation and prioritize the goals it can achieve unilaterally: investigations by the House of Representatives and judicial nominations by the Senate.