US Midterms 2018: State of play

US voters head to the polls in the midterm elections. Image Getty Images

US voters head to the polls in the midterm elections. Image Getty Images

The party needed a net gain of 23 seats to break the Republicans' eight-year hold on the House and place a check on President Donald Trump. If the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives, as many pundits expect, it might make it far more hard for the Trump administration to continue along its current policy agenda, and could lead to a possible roll-back of some of the president's more aggressive trade policies.

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

And on Monday, he made the case that if Democrats win, they will work to roll back everything he is tried to accomplish.

Republicans have controlled the House since the conservative Tea Party movement propelled the GOP to a wave election in November 2010.

One other overlooked number from the last NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll: Just 54 percent of Republican women who are registered voters said they were very enthusiastic about voting in this election. So many of those races are running through the suburbs, where independents and wealthy, college-educated women live, both of which have consistently in polling said they disapproved of the job the president is doing and prefer to vote for a Democrat in their district.

The entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate are up for grabs.

To stem Republican losses, Trump sprinted through mostly white regions of the country, interjecting dark and foreboding warnings about what Democratic power would mean for the nation. He predicted an "invasion" from the migrant caravan making its way toward the USA and decried the "radical" agenda of speaker-in-waiting Pelosi.

What has President Trump being saying?

And on Wednesday, he said she deserves to be House speaker.

Two issues more than any others were on voters' minds.

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Midterms Usher Wave Of Young, Democratic Women Of Color Into House
Democrat house candidate Sharice Davids reacts before speaking to supporters at a victory party in Olathe, Kan., Nov. 6, 2018. Sharice Davids of Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico won their races, becoming the first Native American women in Congress.

AP VoteCast is a nationwide survey of more than 120,000 voters and nonvoters conducted for the AP by NORC at the University of Chicago.

The president's party will maintain control of the executive branch of the government, in addition to the Senate, but Democrats suddenly have a foothold that gives them subpoena power to probe deep into Trump's personal and professional missteps - and his long-withheld tax returns. Barbara Comstock - among the most endangered GOP incumbents, branded Barbara "Trumpstock" by Democrats - lost to Jennifer Wexton, a prosecutor and state legislator.

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 are relying more upon women, people of color, young people and college graduates.

This year there are a record number of women on the ballot, which could significantly increase the number of women in elected office from a fifth of the 535 seats across both chambers. On Monday, he blitzed through a trio of Midwest states he won in 2016 - Ohio, Indiana and Missouri - exhorting his supporters to help send Republicans to Capitol Hill to help safeguard his administration's accomplishments and a booming economy.

Among the new faces are Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of MI, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress; and Sharice Davids of Kansas, the first Native American woman to win a House seat. Davids is also openly gay. The House was also getting its first two Muslim women, MA elected its first black congresswoman, and Tennessee got its first female senator. Compare that with 78 percent of Republican men who are registered voters.

With polls closing across the East, 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.

As for Republicans retaining control of the Senate, she called it "a huge moment and victory for the president".

But to the dismay of some Republicans he has often pivoted away from that message in the final week of campaigning to emphasize a hardline - and critics say racist - crackdown against illegal immigrants. Democratic enthusiasm has been high since the day after the 2016 election and remains strong headed into Election Day, putting seats once assumed to be safe into play in the final days.

How close are the elections going to be? We just have to stand up and speak for it.

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