By STEVE PEOPLES
and JILL COLVIN
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Democrats seized the House majority from President Donald Trump’s Republican Party on Tuesday in a suburban revolt that threatened what’s left of the president’s governing agenda. But the GOP gained ground in the Senate and preserved key governorships, beating back a “blue wave” that never fully materialized.
The mixed verdict in the first nationwide election of Trump’s young presidency underscored the limits of his hardline immigration rhetoric in America’s evolving political landscape, where college-educated voters in the nation’s suburbs rejected his warnings of a migrant “invasion.”
Blue-collar voters and rural America embraced his aggressive talk and stances. However, the new Democratic House majority will end the Republican Party’s dominance in Washington for the final two years of Trump’s first term with major questions looming about health care, immigration and government spending.
The president’s party will maintain control of the executive and judicial branches of the government, in addition to the Senate, but Democrats suddenly have a foothold that gives them subpoena power to probe deep into Trump’s personal and professional missteps — and his long-withheld tax returns.
“Tomorrow will be a new day in America,” declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who would be in line to become the next House speaker.
It could have been a much bigger night for Democrats, who suffered stinging losses in Ohio and in Florida, where Trump-backed Republican Ron DeSantis ended Democrat Andrew Gillum’s bid to become the state’s first African-American governor.
The 2018 elections also exposed an extraordinary political realignment in an electorate defined by race, gender, and education that could shape U.S. politics for years to come.
The GOP’s successes were fueled by a coalition that’s decidedly older, whiter, more male and less likely to have college degrees. Democrats relied more upon women, people of color, young people and college graduates.
Record diversity on the ballot may have helped drive turnout.
Women won at least 85 seats in the House, a record. The House was also getting its first two Muslim women, Massachusetts elected its first black congresswoman, and Tennessee got its first female senator.
Three candidates had hoped to become their states’ first African-American governors, although just one — Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams — was still in the running.
Overall, women voted considerably more in favor of congressional Democratic candidates — with fewer than 4 in 10 voting for Republicans, according to VoteCast, a nationwide survey of more than 115,000 voters and about 20,000 nonvoters — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
In suburban areas where key House races were decided, female voters skewed significantly toward Democrats by a nearly 10-point margin.
Democrats celebrated a handful of victories in their “blue wall” Midwestern states, electing or re-electing governors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and in Wisconsin, where Scott Walker was defeated by state education chief Tony Evers.
The road to a House majority ran through two dozen suburban districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Democrats flipped seats in suburban districts outside of Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago and Denver. Democrats also reclaimed a handful of blue-collar districts carried by both former President Barack Obama and Trump.
The results were more mixed deeper into Trump country.
In Kansas, Democrat Sharice Davids beat a GOP incumbent to become the first gay Native American woman elected to the House. But in Kentucky, one of the top Democratic recruits, retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, lost her bid to oust to three-term Rep. Andy Barr.
Trump sought to take credit for retaining the GOP’s Senate majority, even as the party’s foothold in the House was slipping.
“Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!” Trump tweeted.