US Midterm Elections: What results mean for Donald Trump

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For a contest that was shrouded in mystery, there was one absolute certainty about the 2018 Midterm Elections in the United States – that Donald Trump would claim victory.

The President has called the night’s results, in which his party lost control of the House of Representatives a tremendous success, a big win, and a great victory.

As with many Trump outbursts on Twitter, the claims of the President are, to put it mildly, stretching the truth to breaking point.

His Republican party are now hamstrung in what they can do in legislative terms, as they are now in the minority in the lower house of Congress, although they increased their majority in the Senate and won a number of key Governor races.

READ MORE: Midterms: Democrats win control of House

Perhaps most worrying for Trump, the Democrats now have oversight over countless areas of his administration.

Donald Trump.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

What happened

Despite some in the party being down amid failures to tip key statewide races in their directions, this was undeniably a win for the Democrats.

The party has retaken control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, and a number of rising stars will head to Washington. Donald Trump may have been pushing the boundaries of honesty with his declaration of victory, but there were a number of bright spots for the Republicans.

The party tightened its grip on the upper chamber in Congress, the Senate, although with only a third of seats in that chamber up for grabs, the electoral map was incredibly favourable for the President.

READ MORE: Leader: A denunciation of Donald Trump

Looking ahead to 2020, the Republicans strengthened a decades-long grip on statewide races in Florida, unseating a Democrat Senate and triumphing in a Governor races.

Oversight

It’s a word that might conjure up grim ideas of boring procedural minutiae, but with a President who is suspected of several ethics violations, the oversight role of the House of Representatives could quickly become box office viewing.

A rule-change brought in by Republicans (which they could come to regret) gives committee chair-people in the House the power to subpoena witnesses.

One of the first actions that the party will take is using the House Ways and Means Committee to attempt to compel the President to release his tax returns.

Attempting to see that off at the pass, the President tweeted: “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”

While the Democrats are likely to leave the investigation of potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia to the Special Counsel’s office, the ethical conduct of the Administration will be firmly in the cross-hairs.

That could spell trouble for the President, but he has proved essentially bulletproof amid scandal so far, and will likely cry fake news and corruption should investigations criticise him.

Good News

Donald Trump’s optimism over his ‘big win’ is not entirely unfounded.

The President showed that he can motivate his base to get out even in a midterm election (as shown in swing states like Ohio and Florida).

Several high-profile Senate races that the President campaigned hard in, such as Missouri and North Dakota, yielded wins over incumbent Democrats.

While these races were always friendly for the Republican party (Missouri in particular was expected to turn red as early as 2012, until their candidate Todd Akin made shocking comments about rape and pregnancy), it helps for the President to be associated with wins like those.

In contrast, Senator Dean Heller, the only Republican incumbent to lose to the Democrats, distanced himself from Trump and was defeated.

Re-election

Looking towards 2020, there as arguably more to cheer Donald Trump than his potential Presidential opponents, many of whom will begin their campaigns in earnest now.

Beto O’Rourke, touted as a potential Presidential candidate, lost his Senate race against Ted Cruz, leaving him without elected office ahead of primary season.

The big wins in Florida, a key swing state in every Presidential election, will boost Trump’s chances of victory in two years, although a referendum there will loosen their famously restrictive policies towards ex-felons voting, which could add as many as 1.5m voters to the register in the state.

While Trump will be wounded by losing a second popular vote in a row (he was defeated by around 3m votes nationwide by Hillary Clinton in 2016), the electoral college system means he has a disadvantage going into 2020.

Tuesday night represented, in many ways, a defeat for the President, despite his typically bombastic rhetoric.

However, it is always worth remembering to ‘follow the money’, and most bookmakers have now shortened Trump’s odds of re-election in 2020.

With that in mind, a Democratic victory might yet turn out well for Donald Trump.