How Democrats Won and What That Means

114 million. That’s how many people voted in this year’s election. The last time over 100 million people voted in a midterm election was… never. 114 million. That’s nearly 45% of all registered voters in the U.S. A turnout rate of 45% nearly reaches levels only seen in presidential elections. What caused it and what does it mean?  

The economy is doing well: stock markets are up, jobs are being added, and the unemployment rate is at an historic low. The president’s approval rating is around 40%, similar to that of past presidents in midterm years. Taxes and the opioid crisis have been addressed by tangible acts from Congress. Objectively speaking, the nation is making progress on many fronts. But the administration’s hardline stances on immigration, voting rights, crime, and trade have deterred voters of all demographics, save this base of around 30 to 35% of the population.  

The separation of children from their families at the Mexico-U.S. border sparked international outrage and even condemnation from the United Nations. Constant scrutiny by objective and liberal media and politicians from both conservative and liberal wings kept the issue in the news. This may have decreased Latino support for the Republican party and its incumbents, helping Democrats take House seats in Florida and Texas.  

The suppression of voting rights presented itself without hesitation in Georgia, where State Secretary Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican nominee for governor, was found to have rejected voter registration applications of thousands of Georgians, with a disproportionate number of those rejected being black. If black support for Republicans was already low, it was nearly wiped out after news of that surfaced. Unfortunately, technical difficulties with voting machines may have cost Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams the election.  

China’s trade war with the U.S., which the latter started, hasn’t exactly helped farmers and other people in the agriculture industry. The focus on House districts in the Midwest, which unexpectedly slid toward Trump in 2016, may have shifted left back to the Democratic party thanks to the hit farmers have taken from tariffs.  

Besides harmful policy, Trump’s own words on women may have helped Democrats win districts in suburban areas. In fact, experts looking at exit polls have theorized that women had a large part in helping the Democrats to victory in the House. But now that they have control, what does a Democratic majority in the House mean for the next two years?  

The majority party in the House controls all House committees. That includes committees responsible for investigations of government officials. The Mueller probe (partially) falls under this. This could explain the president’s (even more) irrational behavior in the days following the election, which included confrontations with journalists during a press briefing and firing the attorney general. Perhaps more importantly, now that Republicans don’t have control of both houses of Congress, House Democrats can serve as a check on the president, who has received cartes blanches from Republicans since Trump’s inauguration.  

2019 will be a very confrontational year. Trump will spend much of his time criticizing the Democratic leadership for preventing his agenda to progress. Government shutdowns are on the horizon. Many tweets about Nancy Pelosi are expected. And while Trump is busy attacking Democrats in Congress, he’ll also be fighting Democratic presidential candidates. The 2020 presidential contest has already started, and 2019 will see numerous announcements by Democratic party leaders, rebels, and newbies. That is, if the president finishes this term.