The opposition now has subpoena power
As Donald Trump or his more Bible-conversant supporters look to put the best spin on the results of the midterm elections, they could paint a scene of a blue wave in the Red Sea.
Trump parted the waters for Senate Republicans, who not only escaped, but came out stronger. The House Republican majority, however, was swept away decisively. He'll just blame Paul Ryan.
If Democrats hoped to leave the Republican president humbled, there's not much chance of that.
Weakened though? Perhaps.
His legislative agenda for the second half of his term is dead on arrival unless he is ready to negotiate with the opposition party. The servile Republicans who ran House committees that carried his water to fight the Russia investigation and resist oversight of his administration are out of power. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said her party will "restore checks and balances to the Trump administration."
As Democrats eagerly pick up the gavels and subpoena power, it's hammer time. Impeachment is not probable, but down the road, it's not impossible.
The elections were advertised as a referendum on Trump. On that, the outcome looks to be a split decision. Trump declared victory anyway. "Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!" he tweeted. But he also called Pelosi to congratulate her, according to her office.
He'll take the wins
Going in, red-state Democratic senators were deemed vulnerable, and Trump can claim credit for taking out some of those he targeted in his fall barnstorming tours.
Joe Donnelly of Indiana went down, as did Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Bill Nelson of Florida trailed Trump's candidate, Rick Scott, in a too-close-to-call race. But Democrats, including Joe Manchin in West Virginia, held on in at least five states won by Trump in 2016.
For more on how the battle for Congress turned out, see Newsday's story by Tom Brune.
Click here to see national results at a glance.
The House GOP casualties included at least three New Yorkers: Dan Donovan of Staten Island, the Hudson Valley's John Faso and central New York's Claudia Tenney.
Elsewhere, Democrats ousted Republicans in suburban districts where the Trump name has become toxic. Among them: Barbara Comstock in Virginia, south Florida's Carlos Curbelo, Peter Roskam in the Chicago suburbs, Minnesota's Erik Paulsen, Kansas' Kevin Yoder and Colorado's Mike Coffman.
Democrats took over governorships in Kansas, Illinois and Michigan, but Republicans held on in Florida, Ohio and Arizona.
Janison: Change will be spare
Democrats delivered a jolt to Trump by riding enough voter discontent to capture the House despite a humming economy, but there are limits to what they can deliver, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
The GOP tax cut, crafted and approved in large part by departing speaker Paul Ryan’s majority, ranks among the ships that have already sailed. Huge military spending hikes remain in place and the deficits are widening. There is no path to resolution on health care — the Democrats' biggest issue. The big infrastructure plans Trump touted never got going, and it's hard to envision a plan that can win necessary support from both parties.
The Democrats' victory also makes losers out of Long Island's two Republican House members who won re-election, Peter King and Lee Zeldin. They will be relegated to minority party status, while re-elected Democratic colleagues Kathleen Rice, Gregory Meeks and Thomas Suozzi join the chamber's "in" group.
It was mostly about Trump
Preliminary exit polls found two-thirds of voters said their decisions in House races were based on how they feel about Trump, CNN reported. Not too many had mild opinions about the president — almost half strongly disapprove of him, while about a third strongly approved.
The gender gap was as wide as predicted. According to ABC News, Trump won approval from men by 50% to 49%. Only 39% of women approved of his performance in office, while 60% disapproved. His overall approval/disapproval rating was 44% to 55%.
Health care was the top issue for 41%, followed by immigration (23%), the economy (21%) and gun policy (11%).
New to the party
A sizable 1 in 6 voters say this election is the first time they’re casting a ballot in a midterm contest, according to early exit polls. It was the first midterm for 28% of Latino voters. Among African-Americans, it was 17%. Among whites, 11%.
Americans are united in the belief that the country has become more divided — 77% feel that way, according to the exit polls. Majorities of Democrats (86%), Republicans (68%) and independents (77%) agree.
Even Alexa can't figure this out
In his pre-election interview with "Axios on HBO," Trump said his administration is "very seriously" considering antitrust action against three tech giants — Amazon, Facebook and Google.
"I do have a lot of people talking about monopoly when they mention those three in particular," Trump said. ". . . That doesn't mean we're doing it, but we're certainly looking."
But Trump also said he was "not looking to hurt these companies" and wants to "help" them. "I want Amazon to do well. I want Google to do well. I want Facebook — I want all of 'em to do [well] — these are great companies," he said.
What else is happening:
- For all the chatter about high turnout for Tuesday's election, remember it's being graded on a curve. Turnout in the U.S. is lower than in many other developed, democratic countries. Big reason is that many places in the U.S. make voting difficult, especially for workers who can't get enough time away from their jobs, The New York Times writes.
- Was it fatigue? A case of mistaken identity? At his third and final Monday rally, Trump told a Missouri crowd that a Democratic plan "would obliterate Obamacare." Uh, no, Mr. President, that's what YOU promised to do. In previous speeches, he claimed Democrats would destroy Medicare.
- The Democrats' belief that health care was a winning issue for them was reflected in their ad buys, CNN reports. In the final months, that was the subject of 58% of Democratic ads compared with 31% of Republican ads, CNN reported.
- Long Island's KIng was among a handful of candidates getting an Election Day Twitter shout-out from Trump, who called him "a hardworking gem."
- The Washington Post found at least six instances around the country of Republican ads depicting Jewish Democratic opponents with fistfuls of money or stuffing cash into their clothes.