Democratic candidates had fundraising advantages in dozens of close contests heading into Election Day. Republicans had hoped that a strong economy and Mr. Trump’s ability to turn out base voters would be enough to overcome high levels of enthusiasm among Democratic voters. But in the end Democrats triumphed, ending a brief era of unified Republican government.
The Democratic victory also proves that Republicans are far from invincible under Mr. Trump, a natural showman beloved by the GOP’s grassroots but with more limited appeal in the cities and suburbs. Democrats recruited a historic number of women and people of color to run for House seats, and showed that these candidates could win even in traditionally red districts.
Tuesday night’s results are a much-needed win for the Democrats, who have struggled in recent midterm elections. Republicans won Congress in 2010 and retook the Senate in 2014. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss to Mr. Trump, coupled with the GOP’s ability to retain control of Congress that year, also stunned the Democratic faithful.
On the Republican side, Paul Ryan’s retirement is likely to set off a struggle for minority leader. GOP Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise are all potential contenders for the position. Ryan has already endorsed McCarthy to succeed him, but some conservatives have said they would prefer that Jordan lead the conference.