Almost every news event of 2018 was impacted by the midterm elections in November. Whether it was gun violence, climate change possibly responsible for hurricanes and wildfires and the actions of Saudi Arabia, the midterm conversation surrounded everything.
Throughout 2018, state primary elections captured the attention of the country, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning win in a New York Democratic primary. After the primaries, the attention focused on the general elections in November.
The midterms heightened the news surrounding Brett Kavanaugh, which seemed to unify some Republicans and Democrats while at the same time dividing many. The Mueller investigation, following a busy August, seemed to slow during the two months before the midterms, which may have been purposeful.
No story may have been inflated more than the migrant caravan, which President Donald Trump referenced constantly on Twitter and at every campaign rally the president went to during the final weeks of the midterm campaign.
The midterms also continued to be marred in voter restriction issues, including a controversial governor’s race in Georgia between the man running the elections, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and former state representative Stacey Abrams, a voters’ rights advocate. Kemp would win the election, but not before months of back-and-forth voter-fraud-voter-suppression allegations.
In the weeks before the midterms, the poll numbers showed Republicans—who had seen dozens of congressional members not seeking re-election—losing the House, while maintaining the Senate.
Democrats gained 38 seats in the House to retake the majority. It was the biggest gain by one party since the 2010 midterm elections when Republicans took control by gaining 64 seats.
Meanwhile, the Senate stayed in Republican control, with the majority staying mostly the same. While Republicans picked up four seats in North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Florida, Democrats won a Republican stronghold in Arizona and hung on to win races in other traditionally red states as incumbents won in Montana and West Virginia. With both Independent senators caucusing with Democrats, the split in the senate will be 53-47.
An obvious rebuke following two years under the Trump administration, Democrats now have more power in Washington which will likely impact the president’s agenda.
The end of the midterms is the unofficial start of the 2020 presidential election cycle, which is why many Democratic—and perhaps Republican—2020 hopefuls were active during the lead-up of the midterms.
Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris were active campaigners for 2018 midterm candidates, while Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a central figure in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and who chose not to seek re-election, spoke shortly after the midterms about possibly running in the Republican primary.
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The seventh of our 10 top stories of 2018 will post on Dec. 19.
Correction: This article previously stated that Republicans picked up three seats in the U.S. Senate. Republicans picked up four, with Kevin Cramer defeating Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in the North Dakota senate race during the midterm elections. The senate will have 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with Democrats.