Voters get their chance to shape US politics in Donald Trump era

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a Make America Great Again rally in Fort Wayne Indiana on Monday. — AFP

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a Make America Great Again rally in Fort Wayne Indiana on Monday. — AFP

Early results in the U.S. midterm elections show Democrats inching towards majority control of the 435 member House as Republicans were clinging to delicate majorities in the Senate Tuesday night as an anxious nation watched whether voters would reward or reject the GOP in the first nationwide election of Donald Trump's turbulent presidency.

Democrats need to pick up two dozen seats to claim the House majority.

All 435 seats in the lower chamber House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 upper chamber Senate seats will be at stake.

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

"Tomorrow will be a new day in America", House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a watch party in Washington.

The campaign unfolded against a backdrop of ugly rhetoric and angry debates on immigration, health care and the role of Congress in overseeing the president.

History was working against the president in both the House and the Senate: The president's party has traditionally suffered deep losses in his first midterm election, and 2002 was the only midterm election in the past three decades when the party holding the White House gained Senate seats.

They are counting on voter enthusiasm and the strength of their candidates to carry them to victory.

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. He predicted an "invasion" from the migrant caravan making its way toward the US and decried the "radical" agenda of speaker-in-waiting Pelosi.

"Ever since President Trump has been in office, it has just been not the country that I am used to or that I thought I would be in", said Sarah Roth, 22, a Democratic voter from Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Almost 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.

More news: Women and diversity win big in historic state and local elections
More news: Dems seize House control, but GOP retains Senate
More news: Democrats seize US House in rebuke to Trump

AP VoteCast also showed a majority of voters considered Trump a factor in their votes. They could enjoy much stronger leverage in setting government budgets, but chances of a government shutdown would also grow.

Said Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway: "I don't know that there will be much of an appetite for Democrat lawmakers to spend all of their time, or most of their time or even a fraction of their time investigating, instigating, trying to impeach and subpoena people".

The Senate consists of 100 members, two from each state.

Democrats lost 945 seats in state legislatures across the country during the 2009-2017 presidency of Democrat Barack Obama, the group said.

Outside Richmond, one-time tea party favorite Rep. Dave Brat faced an unusually strong challenge from Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative motivated to run for office after the GOP vote to gut the Affordable Care Act. Democrats relied more upon women, people of color, young people and college graduates.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was re-elected in West Virginia, a state Trump captured by 42 percentage points in his 2016 election triumph. There, no candidate is polling above 50 percent heading into Election Day, and if no one gets at least 50 percent, the race heads to a runoff three weeks later.

Two races which are of particular interest are Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams is seeking to become the first black woman to become governor of a USA state, and Florida, where Democrat Andrew Gillum is locked in a bitter battle with Republican and Trump acolyte Ron DeSantis. Also victorious was Republican Mitt Romney, the vanquished 2012 GOP presidential candidate, who grabbed an open Utah seat. Compare that with 78 percent of Republican men who are registered voters.

But in Kentucky, one of the top Democratic recruits, retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, lost her bid to oust to three-term Rep. Andy Barr in the Lexington-area district.

The Republican grip on high-profile governorships in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin were at risk as well. If Republicans hold their ground, stocks could gain further, with hopes of more tax cuts ahead. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema could become the first openly bisexual senator and the state's first female senator. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who heads the Senate GOP's campaign committee, said in an interview.

Pennsylvania looked particularly daunting for Republicans after redistricting and a rash of retirements put several seats in play.

"We always knew these races are going to be close", said Rep. Katherine Clark of MA, co-chair of House Democrats' recruitment efforts.

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