After the midterm elections on Nov. 6, the Democrats succeeded in flipping 32 House seats across the country, giving them a majority of 233 seats, while Republicans bolstered their control of the Senate, gaining two seats.
This shift of power, albeit slight, was fairly unsurprising. Forecasts from FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times showed Democrats gaining House control. Several analysts saw slim chances of Democrats winning a majority in the Senate, and those chances proved to be much too slim. Republicans managed to flip seats in North Dakota, Missouri, and Indiana. A Senate seat in Nevada shifted to the Democratic side of the aisle, giving Republicans a net gain.
The race for governorships favored Democrats, who picked up seven states. The races for Georgia’s and Florida’s governor’s mansions took almost two weeks to reach a final tally, but Republican candidate Brian Kemp, who had a slight advantage, claimed victory. His Democratic challenger, Stacey Abrams, who would have been the first African American woman elected governor in the country, ended her campaign claiming that “democracy failed” Georgia. Andrew Gillum (D) of Florida conceded his race to Republican Ron DeSantis shortly after Georgia’s race ended.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was re-elected for another four-year term, defeating the Democratic challenger, Jared Henderson, by a hefty 34-point margin. The race for Lieutenant Governor also went to the Republican incumbent, Tim Griffin.
Arkansas held on to all four of its Republican congressmen. The closest race, between Rep. French Hill (R) and Clarke Tucker (D) in District 2—Hendrix’s district—ended with 52.1 percent favoring Hill and 45.8 percent voting Tucker. The heaviest gains for Democrats in the state were found in Northwest Arkansas where Greg Leding was elected to the State Senate in District 4, Denise Garner to the State House in District 84, and Megan Godfrey to the House in District 89.
All state ballot initiatives up for adoption, Issues 2, 4, and 5 were passed. Issue 2, passed by almost 80 percent of the vote, gave the state legislature more authority in shaping Voter ID law. Issue 4, passed by just over 54 percent of the vote, approved casino gaming licenses to specific counties. Issue 5, passed with nearly 70 percent of the vote, initiated a minimum wage increase to 11 dollars per hour by 2021.
As for the most contentious local race, that for Senate District 35, Republican incumbent Jason Rapert held on to his seat. Rapert bested his Democratic challenger, Maureen Skinner, with 55 percent of the vote.
Democratic candidates fell to their Republican counterparts in both the Attorney General and Secretary of State races. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge defeated Mike Lee by 30 points. Former Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston beat Susan Inman by 27 points to become Secretary of State.
Democrats and Republicans both claimed their own victories after the results were tallied. One thing is certain: at just over 47 percent, midterm voter turnout was the highest in 50 years. Half of eligible voters cast a ballot. In 2010, that number was 41 percent, and in 2014 it was 36.7 percent. Most analysts agree that when turnout is up, Democrats win more often than not.
That being said, Tuesday’s results, which were in many ways seen as a referendum on President Trump and his performance, showed signs that the energy Trump brought with him in 2016 still exists in many parts of the country.
With the majority in the House, however, Democrats can now slow the President’s agenda and potentially keep his power in check. Although Democrats flipped House seats in areas that overwhelmingly voted Trump, optimism is tepid. Republicans still see this as resounding support for their party and the President’s message. With a firmer majority in the Senate, the GOP has the ability to keep confirming federal judges and approving trade deals. President Trump himself deemed the midterm results a “big victory.”