The Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives in a blow to the president’s authority. But will Trump now blame the Dems in Congress for all his problems?
At first glance, it looks like the polls were generally on the money with voters dealing a blow to Donald Trump by handing control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats. In the Senate, meanwhile, Republicans will retain power – just as they were expected to do because of an advantage in the number of seats they had up for re-election.
Celebrating the result in Washington, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi - who is set to become Speaker of the House, a position she held from 2007 to 2011 - told supporters: “Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America.”
Shifting attention to the Republican victory in the Senate – where Texas hopeful Beto O’Rourke lost his bid to unseat porn-watcher Ted Cruz – Trump tweeted: “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!”
This divided national result was reflected in the range of diverse candidates that won across the country, too.
On the one hand, some candidates on the left performed well, including Colorado’s Jared Polis, who becomes America’s first openly gay governor, Kansas’ Sharice Davids, who becomes the first lesbian, Native American congresswoman, and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, who becomes the first Somali and Muslim American congresswoman in US history.
And in Massachusetts, voters maintained protections for transgender people.
But in other, Trump-supporting parts of the country, conservatives got the results they were looking for.
Trump-style Republican Ron DeSantis beat the progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum in the race for the Florida governor’s mansion. And Republicans took Senate seats away from the Dems in Florida, Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota.
So it was a divided night – very much reflecting the bitterly divided country.
But what do the results actually mean for Donald Trump?
Trump’s immediate concern will be that he can no longer rely on the support of a Republican Congress to pass legislation, like with his 2017 tax cut for the wealthy. If any legislation is to pass from now on, the president will have to reach out to the Democrats.
And now they’ve taken control of the House, the Democrats will have the power to be much more aggressive in investigating the Trump administration, its connections with Russia, and possibly even the president’s tax returns.
Another potential headache for the president is the possibility that the Democrats might begin impeachment proceedings against him – though he couldn’t actually be removed from office with Republicans still in control of the Senate.
On a political level, however, it’s possible that the loss of the House might actually work in Donald Trump’s favour – especially as he looks forward to his re-election campaign in 2020.
“Even handing over power to Democrats in the House of Representatives may have a bit of a silver lining for the president,” the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher argued. “Now he’ll have someone to blame if the economy takes a turn for the worse (and, given business cycle realities, it might).
“He’s got a ready-made explanation for why he can’t get anything done in the next two years - and a pitch for what needs to change in the next election.”
Trump, an expert in politically-manipulative communication, is almost guaranteed to bash the Democratic-controlled House for every problem he faces – and with two years until the next election, this is a message that many of his supporters will be receptive to.
This strategy of a president blaming Congress the ills of the nation has a long political history; the ‘Do Nothing Congress’ attack line was, famously, used by President Harry Truman during the 1948 election which he won in an historic upset.
So the dreams of a ‘blue wave’ turned out to be just that, a dream, and the fight for the future of America continues.
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