Democrats captured a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, setting up the Trump administration and their Republican colleagues across the aisle for two years of obstruction and investigations into presidential wrongdoing.
Capitalizing on a wave of anti-Trump sentiment in suburban districts across the country, Democrats unseated 26 Republican incumbents, surpassing the 23-seat threshold required to reclaim a majority.
Anti-Trump sentiment among educated, white voters was apparent in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., where three-term Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock was bested by Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton. Wexton successfully tied Comstock to President Trump, focusing heavily on national issues such as the administration’s perceived anti-immigrant sentiment to paint her opponent as out-of-touch with constituents who voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
A similar scenario played out in the Denver suburbs, where Democrat Jason Crow defeated Republican incumbent Mike Coffman. Democrats also emerged victorious in key House races in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida.
Trump’s Republican critics have both privately and publicly chastised the president for relying so heavily on anti-immigrant messaging in the days leading up to the election. While the president reportedly believed his approach would pay off in rural states with vulnerable Senate seats, critics allege that it likely further alienated the suburban voters the GOP needed to woo to retain their majority.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is now expected to claim the gavel, has vowed to prioritize gun-control and anti-corruption legislation following the elections. Her newly formed majority is also expected to target the president with multiple investigations into possible emoluments-clause and obstruction-of-justice violations, which will likely require that Trump submit his tax returns under threat of subpoena.
While she is the expected favorite, Pelosi is expected to see a speakership challenge from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as younger, more progressive lawmakers, who have accused their elder counterparts of refusing to share power.
Much of the divide within the Democratic caucus is due to Pelosi’s refusal to commit to pursuing impeachment proceedings against Trump. Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer have thus far resisted their colleagues’ calls to impeach the president at the first opportunity, calling instead for restraint and composure.