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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 22 October, 2019
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The US Midterm results poured in overnight. 

Here are the main points:

  • The ‘blue wave’: No sweeping win for Democrats; White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed it as a blue “ripple”
  • One each: The Democrats have taken the House, the Republicans have kept control of the Senate, and are on track to increase their majority.
  • The Texan race for the Senate: In a shock for many, Beto O’Rourke ran a very close race against former presidential hopeful Ted Cruz.
  • A win for diversity: The first two Muslim congresswomen; the youngest congresswoman ever elected; the first openly gay governor of the US and Ayanna Pressley has become Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman.

One of the most interesting parts of this US election so far has been the huge emphasis on urging people to vote – by celebrities.

Actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, musician Taylor Swift and the Rock are among the US stars telling people to use their vote today.

The Rock Source: Instagram

Fun.

And that’s quite a significant part of this election: turnout.

Historically, turnout is much lower during the midterms than in presidential elections. In the 2014 midterms, just 36.4% of Americans registered to vote used it – that’s the lowest turnout since the end of the second World War.

It was 40% in the 2010 midterms, and 58.1% in the 2016 US election.

Also, traditionally, Republicans are more likely to vote in the midterms – meaning if we see a turnout higher than the mid-40s, that indicates Democrats are turning up to vote.

There will be a lot of comparisons between this Midterm and the 2016 election.

Right now, it’s expected that the Democrats will “flip the House” – meaning take the majority that the Republicans have held up until now.

They need 218 seats in the House for a majority – at the moment almost all predictions see them achieving that (including Fox News).

But we’ve been here before.

So what’s all the fuss about anyway? Why do we in Ireland care about the results in the US? Three reasons:

  • If the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives (the US Dáil), it will make passing legislation much more difficult for Trump.
  • If the Democrats take control of the Senate, it means they’ll have the power to black the appointments of Supreme Court judges, and control impeachment outcomes.
  • If Republicans lose their majority in the House, it will be the first time voters show their lack of confidence in him – how will he react to that?

We’ve actually explored that last point in this piece > Donald Trump is obsessed with ‘winning’, so what would losing the midterms mean for him?

It’s also going to be the greatest barometer on whether people are happy with Donald Trump as their president.

Donald Trump Source: Evan Vucci

If you’re not waiting up all night, here are a couple of key contests to watch out for if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night:

The Texas Senate: Republican Ted Cruz vs Democrat Beto O’Rourke

Fourth-generation Irishman Beto O’Rourke has built up a quite a following and is seen as the first proper contender to dethrone Cruz from his stint in a Republican stronghold. The last time a Dem won a seat in the senate in Texas was in the 1980s.

At the moment, Cruz has a seven point lead and is leading consistently. Turnout will be crucial here.

The Nevada Senate – Republican Dean Heller vs Democrat Jacky Rosen

Heller was described recently by The Guardian newspaper as “the most vulnerable Republican incumbent”. He once hosted a campaign rally at a Vegas gun store. 

His opponent Jacky Rosen is a first term congresswoman who is hoping to capitalise on the strong vote for Hillary Clinton in the State two years ago. There’s only two points between them; just 20,000 votes separated Clinton and Trump in 2016.

As we edge into Oscar awards season territory, here’s a script we could sink our teeth into: Alaska’s two Midterm races, for governor and their one House seat, are tied together by “a plane crash, a knife-wielding congressman, and a common theme: women having unprecedented impacts on every race”.

Oscar in the bag.

giphy (2)

CSPAN, the US version of Oireachtas TV, has given us these handy graphics of when the polls close. In short, we’ll get the first results from the east of the country, and the last from the west.

The first polls in Indiana and Kentucky have now closed.

Quick recap on the US Congress before results start pouring in:

The House of Representatives has 435 seats, and the Republicans have the majority currently. The Democrats need to retain the 193 seats they have, and win an extra 24 seats to overturn that. They’re expected to get an increase between 30-35 seats.

The Senate has 100 seats, but there are just 35 seats available in this Midterm, and 26 of those were held by the Dems, with 9 held by Republicans. 

Another bit of info for ya: 10 of those 26 Democratic seats are in states that Trump won in 2016 election. So the Republicans are expected to hold their majority in the Senate – and possibly increase it by two seats.

Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has asked when we’ll know if the Democrat candidate running for a Senate seat in Texas, Beto O’Rourke, has won.

Polls close in Texas at 8pm, or 1am Irish time. If Republican Ted Cruz keeps the lead he’s had in the polls, we won’t be waiting long for a result.

As we wait for the first few results to pour in, and what they might mean, here’s an interesting insight into what is influencing people’s vote: a significant 1-in-6 voters say this is the first midterm election they’re voting in.

There’s reportedly been an historic turnout for a midterm election in the early ballot votes – let’s see if that translates in how people voted today.

Another interesting one on tunrout: this time in a crucial swing state, Ohio.

There’s reportedly been a massive increase in voter turnout in a state where Donald Trump secured 51% of the vote in 2016, winning it comfortably (Clinton got 43%).

Couple of interesting Exit poll results: this one from MSNBC shows that healthcare, the campaign issue championed by Democrats during the Midterms, was most important.

Although based on the other options, it’s possible that the Republican vote was split between the other three issues.

Exit poll

Meanwhile, CNN’s exit poll indicates that 77% of Americans believe their country is more divided than ever.

unnamed Source: Christine Bohan

Our Acting Editor Christine Bohan has an update for us from Texas:

Polls close shortly here in Texas, with all eyes on whether Beto O’Rourke can defeat incumbent Republican Ted Cruz in the Senate race. Polls suggest not – it seems more likely that Cruz will win out. But Republicans and Democrats will be paying a lot of attention to the race, and how O’Rourke galvanised high levels of support with his strongly left-wing agenda.

Even if he doesn’t win tonight, O’Rourke has shown the levels of support a progressive candidate can get in a red state – he raised an unprecedented $38 million in donations in the last quarter, and banners and t-shirts with his name on them can be seen everywhere across cities like Austin – which raises the questions: what will his next move be after this? And will this inspire more progressive politicians to follow his lead?

Well Beto has certainly inspired Beyoncé – she’s just after posting a series of photos to Instagram with her wearing a “Beto for Senate” hat.

Bey

Ok, a few results next.

The Democrats have taken an early lead as polls in the eastern states close, and votes are counted.

Democrat Jennifer Wexton has won a Republican seat back in Virginia, but that isn’t surprising as this is a district Clinton won in 2016.

In Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson is inching ahead of his opponent Rick Scott. A few things about these candidates that makes that interesting.

Incumbent Nelson has had climate change issues at the heart of his campaign, and he’s been the targetted by Donald Trump on Twitter.

With half the votes counted, and Nelson has 51% of the vote. The remaining areas where votes need to be counted are Republican strongholds. 

So, remember Gillum? 

He’s currently on 49.64% and his opponent Ron DeSantis 49.4%. Literally nothing in it.

If Gillum wins, he’ll become Florida’s first African-American governor.

Election Campaign in Texas Source: DPA/PA Images

So – in the latest count, Beto O’Rourke is leading at 55% after 17% of the vote counted. In Dallas county alone, he won 66%.

It’s early days, but that’s quite impressive by a grassroots candidate in a red state.

CNN’s John King seems to be talking directly to Irish people when he says:

Well – ‘historic first’ alert.

Ayanna Pressley will become the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress. She made headlines after beating a 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano, who was heavily backed by the political establishment.

Vox

Nailbiter update: the O’Rourke/Cruz, Gillum/DeSantis and Nelson/Scott races are still far too close to call, with less than a percentage point between the candidates in each of those three races.

Back to Indiana, one of the first states to close its polls, Greg Pence, the older brother of US Vice President Mike Pence, has won a seat in the House of Representatives.

The 61-year-old is a businessman and military veteran.

A tip just in from a reader in Florida: Watch Miami and Broward in Florida, where there are big leads for both Governor and Senator, with 75% and 50% of votes counted.

If Dems win control of the Senate that’s where it comes from now, we’re told.

This is crucial, and lays a good foundation for Republicans to keep control of the Senate.

Half of the votes have been counted in Texas, and Beto O’Rourke is at just over 51%. Definitely one to keep watching.

If you heard earlier reports of voting problems and technical difficulties in Georgia..

Technical issues Source: TheJournal.ie

.. the problem was apparently due to not plugging the voting machines in. 

So with the results so far – has either party made gains in the House or Senate?

The Democrats have picked up two seats in the House; Republicans have made one gain in the Senate – GOP candidate Mike Braun has just taken a Senate seat in Indiana.

So based on the results we’ve had so far – the ‘blue wave’ claims that were made before the Midterms by some seem to be off.

It’s almost certain now that the Democrats won’t win back the Senate, but they’re still on track to take the House.

As the New York Times’ Nate Cohn predicts that the Democrats will pick up an extra 32 seats in the House at least. 

Image from iOS

Let’s have a look at the Senate race in West Virginia.

Here, Democrat Joe Manchin has beaten Republican Donnelly to keep his Senate seat in the strongly Republican state.

But let’s qualify that Democratic ‘win’: Manchin often takes conservative positions at odds with his own party.

A fellow democratic challenger in West Virginia Richard Ojeda, voted for Trump in 2016.

If you think predicting this US election is too complicated – you’re not alone.

Speaking to MSNBC, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said “I’m gonna be really honest with you – I have no flipping idea what’s going to happen tonight.”

giphy (3)

“We have a president of the United States who is a pathological liar,” Bernie Sanders says during his victory speech, after reclaiming his Senate seat in Vermont.

Sarah Source: Sky News

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that there isn’t a “blue wave” as predicted, but more of a “ripple”.

She says that the states that Trump visited, the candidates are doing well.

Responding to those comments, a former advisor to Hillary Clinton said that Democrats didn’t get the “slam dunk” they wanted, and said it was looking “pretty bad” after they lost a number of governorships.

UPI 20181106 Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Source: UPI/PA Images

Another first for Congress: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been elected to the House in New York, making her the youngest woman in Congress at 29.

In June, she made headlines after she beat an establishment congressman Joe Crowley, seen as a potential standardbearer, to make it on the electoral ticket.

Ocasio-Cortez is a Bronx-born Latina activist and Bernie Sanders volunteer who has never held elected office before now.

Source: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez/YouTube

Historic win in West Virginia, according to Joe Manchin:

You made history tonight…West Virginia made history tonight…Nobody in the United States has ever won in a state that the president in the previous election won by 42 points. The opposite party wins.

Minnesota Primary Elections 2018 Source: Mark Vancleave

Remember earlier when we said Rashida Tlaib had become the first Muslim congresswoman?

She’ll have to make some room on that podium, as Democrat Ilhan Omar has a huge majority over her opponent in Minnesota; at 78.8%, she’s expected to win.

Whatever about the parties, it’s a good day for diversity in Congress.

So the Democratic dream in Texas is over: Media reports confirm that Ted Cruz has retained his Senate seat.

A panelist on Sky News said that the razor-thin gap between the two candidates was more reflective of the two personalities involved, than a shift in the red state towards the Democrats.

So what’s the national look at the moment? With half the seats claimed, the New York Times is reporting that the Republicans have lost 11 seats.

snapshots Source: NYT

It’s also officially a mathematical impossibility that the Democrats will regain control of the Senate, Sky News states.

Happy to take their word on that.

Meanwhile, away from the personalities and parties, there are other important votes happening, reports AP:

  • Florida voters approved a ballot measure that will enable more than 1 million ex-felons to regain their voting rights.
  • North Dakota and Michigan had a chance to legalise the recreational use of marijuana, a step already taken by nine other states.
  • In Arkansas and Missouri, voters decided on increasing the minimum wage: the measure would raise the wage from $8.50 an hour to $11 by 2021 in the former; and gradually raising the $7.85 minimum wage to $12 an hour in the latter.
  • In Arizona and Nevada, voters considered measures requiring that 50% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2030.

Here it is: The Democrats have taken back the House of Representatives, while the Republicans have retained the Senate and look like they will increase their majority here.

Final Source: NYT

All media making this prediction, based on the states that have been declared and the ones yet to come.

A record-breaking 262 women were on the ballot for this US midterms and could elect a record number of women to Congress by the end of the counts.

“The House of Representatives, especially, is due to see such a large influx of Democratic women that there could be more women than white men representing that side of the aisle,” reports Vox.

U.S.-HOUSTON-MIDTERM ELECTIONS EVE Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Ted Cruz is giving his victory speech.

Texas saw something this year that we’ve never seen before… This election was a battle of ideas. It was a contest of who we are and what we believe.

What was truly amazing is at events, we would ask people: ‘How many of you are former Democrats?’ And we would see hands go up – I see hands are going up now.

He said that protecting jobs, securing the border and protecting the constitution united Texans.

Cruz thanks Beto O’Rourke for his campaign. He has to urge the crowd to listen to his praise of him as they started to boo.

He tells his supporters that he will represent every Texan.

A mention of “the national media” also prompts jeers from the crowd.

Another win for diversity:

Democrat Sharice Davids has become the first Native American woman in the House of Representatives, elected in Kansas after securing 53.3% of the vote.

Election 2018 House Sharice Davids. Source: Charlie Riedel

Deb Haaland has secured 59.6% of the vote in New Mexico to become the second Native American woman elected to the House.

So what does it mean that the Democrats will take back control of the House?

Apart from the influence an incredibly diverse group of candidates will have, it will prove more difficult for Trump to pass legislation.

And, according to MSNBC, the Democrats intend to request Trump’s tax returns. As early as tonight by some accounts.

On this point ^ This means that Republican politicians are now less likely to criticise or turn on Trump when he does something controversial, as his administration seems prone to do.

It makes an impeachment all the more unlikely.

And again, some predictions for the 2020 presidential election.

Florida Republican Rick Scott has defeated Bill Nelson in a very close race for the Senate, by the way.

Kellyann

Kellyanne Conway has been speaking to reporters about the issues on which Trump campaigned during the Midterm. She gets quite heated with one reporter who suggests he was criticised for his comments on the caravan of people from South America.

He’s been “praised for raising attention to the border issue”, she replies.

I don’t think the President worries about whether he was vindicated or not in relation to the Mexican caravan.. It’s an education for everyone to keep looking at it.

My boss doesn’t repeat trends, he makes them.

Conway is now giving out about anti-Trump activists who talk too much about 2016 or 2020. She’s put on the backfoot when she’s reminded that Trump has made repeated comments about 2016.

Californian candidate Nancy Pelosi is strongly expected to be the next Speaker of the House.

Pelosi has said previously that she would not be looking to impeach President Donald Trump if Democrats regain control of the House. We’ll see if she sticks to that.

If you can’t watch the video, click here

Pelosi has also been criticised as a “very polarising” figure and as a gift to Donald Trump, who has targetted her before. 

Let’s talk about Wisconsin.

Wis Source: NYT

This was going to be a fun one to watch because this state was seen as a Democratic certainty during the 2016 Presidential election – but Trump won in it the end.

In the last poll before the election, Republican incumbent Scott Walker was behind his Democratic challenger Tony Evers by 5 points.

I the latest result, there’s less than a percentage point between the two, with over 82% of votes in.

The former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who retired this year and Rience Priebus, who left as Trump’s chief of staff after 6 months, are both from this state.

A loss for the Democrats in Missouri – although they saw it coming.

Republican Josh Hawley has been elected to the Senate in Missouri, beating the incumbent Claire McCaskill. 

Trump won the state in the 2016 election; Attorney General Hawley has gathered 52.9% of the vote.

Election 2018 Senate Hawley Missouri Shirley Gilman cheers after hearing election returns in favour of Josh Hawley. Source: Charlie Riedel

beto o'r

O’Rourke, in his concession speech, says that whatever needs to be done to help Ted Cruz unite the country after it’s been so divided, will be done.

I am as inspired, I’m as hopeful as I have ever been in my life, and tonight’s loss does nothing to diminish the way that I feel about Texas or this country.

He gives a speech on stage in El Paso, with a weird fog and blue lighting that makes you fear White Walkers are about to emerge from behind him.

There it is: the magic number 23. It’s by keeping that that Democrats take the House.

PA

 

Sean Hannity, one of Fox news’ top presenters, was reprimanded by the station for appearing onstage at a Trump campaign rally ahead of the Midterms.

The station, which gives more favourable coverage of Trump, released a statement earlier today saying that Hannity’s presence at the rally was “unfortunate”.

He hasn’t been involved in Fox’s midterm election coverage, by the sounds of it.

The latest results from the Washington Post here. 25 extra seats in the House for the Dems, and 3 extra seats in the Senate for the Republicans.

WP

This analysis fron the WP’s The Fix is also worth reading. It lists Beto 2020 (and beyond) as a winner, and Beto 2018, and its donors under Losers. Ouch.

Fun fact on Nancy Pelosi: if she does become House Speaker, she will be the second woman ever to do so.

The first female House Speaker was… Nancy Pelosi (from 2007 to 2011).

Election 2018 House Democrats Nancy Pelosi. Source: Jacquelyn Martin

With that, we’re going to leave the liveblog there.

Keep an eye on our coverage as we analyse what the results mean for the Trump administration, and how the rest of the world reacts.

Over and out.

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