Imua 'Iolani

563 Kamoku Street

Honolulu, Hawai'i

imua@iolani.org

What do the Midterm Election Results Mean?

November 15, 2018

     November 6 was a great day for American democracy. In one of the most anticipated midterm elections in recent political history, more than 110 million Americans cast ballots for their congressional representatives, according to a United States Election Project estimate. In addition, more than 47 percent of the voting-eligible population voted, the highest turnout for a midterm election since 1966.

     Midterm elections are held every two years in the middle of a president’s four-year term. After two years of Republican control in Congress, the Democrats gained 27 seats in the United States House of Representatives. However, the Republicans flipped seats in Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota; they also won an open seat in Tennessee, further expanding the control of the Senate. America’s nationalist and hateful sentiment has grown into a recurring problem in recent years. Especially in the 2016 election, the American people’s disdain toward opposing political parties was very concerning. Moderates are being drowned out by America’s increasingly divided parties, and the election results provide fresh evidence of America’s deeply polarized, divided nation.

     The House takeover has empowered Democrats to bring the fight to President Donald Trump. Trump can expect an onslaught of congressional investigations, hearings, subpoenas and inquiries. The Democrats intend to use their new powers to place checks and balances on the Trump administration. Using subpoenas, they can finally acquire Trump’s much sought-after tax returns and more aggressively probe Russian collusion with the Trump campaign and interference in the 2016 presidential election. The expected chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, said that “all options are on the table” if Trump tries to sabotage the Russia investigation or other abuses of the pardon power. In addition, committees such as Ways and Means, Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation have the power to request Trump’s tax returns under the tax code. In 2019, America can expect an investigative army fighting Trump.

     The Republicans will no longer be able to pass legislation without Democratic input, meaning many conservative bills are likely to fail. This makes it much more difficult for the Republicans to completely dismantle former President Barack Obama’s health care laws. However, Democrats do not have the support of a Democratic Senate or president to make their legislative dreams a reality. Nancy Pelosi, majority leader of the House, assures that, “a Democratic Congress will work for solutions that bring us together because we have all had enough of division.”

     The Democrats also enjoyed a major victory in Hawaiʻi. Democratic incumbents stole every major office in swift fashion. In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mazie Hirono won with 71.1 percent of Hawaii votes against Ron Curtis. Ed Case and Tulsi Gabbard won the House race by epic margins, both receiving more than 70 percent of Hawaiʻi votes. Capturing 62.7 percent of votes, David Ige won the race for governor. Hawaiʻi is one of just eight states in which Democrats control both chambers of the legislature and governor’s mansion.

     As long as the Democrats show a united front with their new majority responsibility, Trump can look forward to a major headache. Although the Democrats did not have the projected “blue wave” across Congress, the Republicans lost a lot of power in Congress. In his 2020 reelection campaign, Trump needs to focus on Pennsylvania and other swing states that he lost to Democrats as well as historically red states, like Texas, that were met with more resistance than expected.. Despite the repercussions from the results, the most important takeaway from the election is voter turnout. Americans showed up in the polls and turned November 6 into a historic night for American politics.

 

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