Washington (November 7, 2018): Staring down the potential loss of one-party control in Washington, President Donald Trump declared Tuesday’s election results in a “tremendous success” for Republicans as his party maintained its hold on the Senate while Democrats picked up seats in the House.
Trump waited until late in the night to weigh in on the midterm vote, tweeting a succinct message that overlooked expected Democratic gains in the House, writing: “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!”
Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
With results still coming in, Republicans had a chance to increase their majority in the Senate. Democrats were gaining speed in their quest for the House, which would give them the ability to launch investigations into the president and stymie his agenda.
Overall, more voters disapproved of Trump’s job performance than approved — a finding that is largely consistent with recent polling. Voters scored Trump positively on the economy and for standing up “for what he believes in”. But the president received negative marks from voters on temperament and trustworthiness.
Still, about one-third of voters said Trump was not a factor in their votes. Trump’s scorched-earth campaigning came to define the 2018 campaign. In the final days, he sought to motivate supporters with the battle over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — at one point mocking a woman who claimed the judge had sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.
Ahead of the election, both parties claimed that the emotionally charged debate over Kavanaugh’s confirmation would motivate their supporters to turn out. According to VoteCast, half of the voters said the tumultuous process was very important to their vote and they broke for the Democratic House candidate. Returning to his immigration-heavy 2016 playbook, Trump went on to unleash his full fury on a caravan of migrants slowly making their way to the southern border. His take-no-prisoners approach troubled many Republicans seeking to appeal to moderate voters in suburban House districts, but Trump prioritised base voters in the deep-red states that could determine the fate of the Senate. At times he even appeared at odds with his own campaign, which in the election’s final days released a gauzy ad aimed at suburban women.
Trump did not care for the soft-focus ad, which notably did not mention him, according to a person familiar with the president’s thinking who was not authorised to speak publicly. Instead, he promoted a shocking, expletive-loaded video featuring a Latino man convicted of murdering two police officers, which was widely decried as being racist. But while Trump’s plays to his most loyal supporters helped rev up the crowds in small towns and rural areas in red states, they were viewed as a turnoff to moderates, independents and women in the suburban districts needed to keep the House in GOP hands. Still, Trump brushed off criticism that he was alienating moderate voters as he continued his massive rallies and overheated rhetoric.