Term elections 2018: Trump offers bipartisanship with caveat

Democrats celebrate after candidate Laura Kelly was declared the winner over Kris Kobach at her election night party in Topeka Kansas on Nov 6 2018

US President Donald Trump speaks during a post-election press conference in the White House. His message was racist, his speeches fear-mongering and his "nationalism" and "globalism" were none-too-subtle signals to white supremacists and anti-Semites that a fascist takeover was in the works.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi promised that her party would serve as a counterweight to the White House. He certainly didn't hurt them.

But is this similar to the "shellacking" that Democrats got during the Obama administration's first midterms vote in 2010? No.

Whether or not the night constitutes a "blue wave" for Democrats is unclear given the mixed results overall and the typical losses for the president's party, but the split Congress will make life more hard for the president. By the time the midterm rolls around, the popularity of the president (or lack thereof) is reflected on his party. In the final analysis, after being out of power in the House for the better part of a decade, Democrats are looking ahead to curbing Trumpism. Democrats lead in nine of those, Republicans in 14. It is impossible to say what the vote count would be if the House was apportioned based on the popular vote.

Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives to Democrats, but Trump shrugged that off, casting Tuesday's congressional election results as "very close to complete victory" for Republicans and saying he could negotiate easier on some issues with Democrats, anyway. Almost two-thirds said Trump was a reason for their vote.

Trump drives voters to the polls, but that cuts both ways.

Even establishment Republicans don't get it. More women than ever were running, along with veterans and minorities, many of them motivated by revulsion over Trump.


Yet the elections were not the stunning repudiation of Trump and the Republican party that many liberals, profoundly disturbed by the nation's trajectory, had hoped for. It is not because they are all racists - though, of course, a small subset of them are. "People wouldn't understand them". Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., was re-elected to the House. Just ask the white, black and Hispanic males he eviscerated during the 2015-16 Republican primaries.

The results of the 2018 midterm elections are a referendum against U.S. president Donald Trump's policies with the Democratic victory in the House of Representatives with 223 seats-results in five seats are still pending-and the Republicans narrowly expanding their majority in the Senate.

When I went back and re-watched Trump's press conference, I was struck by how deliberate the president's shots at other Republicans were. And the Democrats could see a struggle inside the party over how aggressively to confront the Trump administration. It reflects a fear that whether talking about the United Nations or global treaties like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Paris climate change agreement, USA sovereignty is threatened by bureaucrats overseas. Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy came out as gay while he was in office, and Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who is bisexual, won in 2016, but Jared Polis will be the first man to win a governorship as an out gay man. Polis has been in Congress since 2009.

With the Republicans keeping control of the Senate, the outcome in the House could mean gridlock for Trump's agenda on Capitol Hill - or, conversely, it could open a new era of deal-making.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, meanwhile, said it was disappointed voters rejected a ballot question that would have set strict limits on the number of patients a single nurse could care for at one time. Republicans have picked up at least one seat in the Senate, with races in Arizona and MS remaining undecided. But their rapid rise to stardom in the Democratic party has kicked off public discussions about viability for presidential office in 2020. Because Trump has demonstrated that despite receiving endlessly negative coverage, and despite Republicans being outspent by Democrats in the midterms, his brand of politics is not - at least not yet - still resonates with a significant portion of American voters.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the mid-term elections was that, unlike 2016, there wasn't one. They reflected deep anxieties in the electorate.

Donald Trump came to the East Room of the White House with olive branch in hand, but it sometimes seemed like his fingers were crossed behind his back.

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