Tuesday 17 September 2019

Votes counted after United States goes to the polls in crucial midterm elections

The Democrats seized early victories in hotly-contested races.

People have been voting in the midterms (Mickey Welsh/AP)
People have been voting in the midterms (Mickey Welsh/AP)

By Steve Peoples, Associated Press

The outrage of the Democratic resistance is facing off against the brute strength of president Donald Trump’s Republican party in a fight for control of Congress and statehouses across the nation.

Fundraising, polls and history were not on the president’s side.

But two years after an election that proved polls and prognosticators wrong, an air of uncertainty — and stormy weather across parts of the country — clouded the outcome of high-stakes elections from Florida to Alaska and everywhere in between.

Democrats seized early victories in contested House races in Florida and also in Virginia, where political newcomer Jennifer Wexton defeated two-term representative Barbara Comstock.

Jennifer Wexton beat Republican Barbara Comstock (Katherine Frey/AP)

The Republican incumbent had been branded Barbara “Trumpstock” by Democrats in a race that pointed to Trump’s unpopularity among college-educated women in the suburbs.

Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts easily won re-election as they consider bids for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Other 2020 prospects on the ballot included New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Anxious Republicans privately expressed confidence in their narrow Senate majority but feared the House was slipping away.

Everything we have achieved is at stake Donald Trump

The Republican grip on high-profile governorships in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin were at risk as well.

“Everything we have achieved is at stake,” Mr Trump declared in his final day of campaigning.

Long lines and malfunctioning machines marred the first hours of voting in some precincts, including in Georgia, where some voters reported waiting up to three hours to vote in a hotly contested election.

Voters have been casting their ballots across the United States (John Minchillo/AP)

More than 40 million Americans had already voted, either by mail or in person, breaking early voting records across 37 states, according to analysis.

Nearly 40% of voters cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, according to a national survey of the electorate, while one-in-four said they voted to express support for Mr Trump.

Mr Trump encouraged voters to view the first nationwide election of his presidency as a referendum on his leadership, pointing proudly to the surging economy at recent rallies.

He bet big on a xenophobic closing message, warning of an immigrant “invasion” that promised to spread violent crime and drugs across the nation.

Democrats needed to pick up two dozen seats to seize the House majority and two seats to control the Senate.

All 435 seats in the US House were up for re-election, although fewer than 90 were considered competitive while Some 35 Senate seats were in play, as were almost 40 governorships and the balance of power in virtually every state legislature.

The political and practical stakes were sky-high.

The state of play (PA Graphics)

Democrats could derail Mr Trump’s legislative agenda for the next two years should they win control of the House or the Senate.

The party were most optimistic about the House, a sprawling battlefield set largely in America’s suburbs where more educated and affluent voters in both parties have soured on Mr Trump’s turbulent presidency, despite the strength of the national economy.

Democrats faced a far more difficult challenge in the Senate, where they were almost exclusively on defence in rural states where Mr Trump remains popular.

Democratic Senate incumbents were up for re-election, for example, in North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri — states Trump carried by almost 25% on average two years ago.

Three states could elect their first African-American governors, while several others were running LGBT candidates and Muslims. A record number of women were running for Senate, House, governorships and state legislative seats.

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