What Happens Now? The Aftermath of the 2018 Midterms


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The midterm elections are over, but they may have lasting consequences.

Democrats flipped the House of Representatives and gained several governorships, while Republicans maintained their hold on the Senate.

With a majority in the House, Democrats can now use subpoena power to make many details of the investigation into the 2016 presidential election public. This also means that Adam Schiff (D-CA) is now chair of the House Intelligence Committee. The committee’s investigation ended in conflict, with the Republicans and Democrats disagreeing on whether they found evidence of Russian influence in the election. While the committee has not explicitly said whether it plans to reopen its investigation into election interference, there are “many additional questions they would like to answer,” according to NBC.  

On MSNBC, Schiff said that the committee plans “to look at the work that we were able to do,” while also looking “at the work that the GOP obstructed.”

The Democratic majority could have their work cut out for them, as then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped down at Trump’s request the Wednesday after the midterms. Sessions’ Chief of Staff, Matthew Whitaker, became the acting Attorney General and therefore gained control of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.  

Whitaker’s ascension to the position of Attorney General soon attracted controversy, though, due to his repeated criticism of the Mueller investigation. This prompted Schiff to tweet that “the Mueller investigation and the independence of the DOJ must be protected.”

The Democratic majority will not take hold until January, allowing Trump to take advantage of Congress’s lame duck session.

In terms of the Senate, Republicans held their majority, meaning that the GOP has an advantage in confirmation hearings and, should they happen, impeachment trials. While the GOP was expected to keep control of the Senate, there were still some surprises. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won Arizona’s Senate race, flipping a seat that had been held by the GOP for 24 years.

The midterm results broke some records as well. At least 100 women will be in the House come January, beating the previous number of 85. Sharice Davids of Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico will become the first Native American women in Congress. Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Oman will become the first Muslim women in Congress. Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) will be the first openly gay governor in America.  

What caught most people’s attention on election day was the Texas Senate race between Democrat Beto O’Rourke and Republican incumbent Ted Cruz. Despite his victory, Cruz won by less than three percentage points. That narrow margin came as a surprise to many.  Texas has long been a Republican stronghold, and Cruz’s victory seemed like a given. O’Rourke’s strategy of visiting all 254 Texas counties and talking about issues that could unite the right and left narrowed the gap, though.

According to Axios, CNN exit polls found that native Texans actually preferred O’Rourke to Cruz. This close race has Democrats studying O’Rourke’s unconventional campaign strategy for possible future application and has Republicans worried about how the electorate has changed.

Regardless of one’s political affiliation, it is clear that the 2018 results are important in both the short and long term. These results will not only affect the Trump Administration but could change how campaigns are run in the future and lead to further changes in the composition of Congress.

The end of the midterms also means that most, if not all, politicians are now looking forward to 2020.