2018 United States elections
Midterm elections
Election dayNovember 6
Senate elections
Seats contested33 seats of Class I (+2 special elections for Class II)
Net changeR+1 to R+2 (1 undetermined election)
2018 United States Senate elections.svg
2018 Senate results

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold
  Independent hold   Undetermined

House elections
Seats contestedAll 435 voting seats (+5 of 6 non-voting seats)
Net changeD+37 to D+42 (5 undetermined elections)
US House 2018.svg
2018 House of Representatives results
(territorial delegate races not shown)

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold
  Undetermined

Gubernatorial elections
Seats contested39 (36 states, 3 territories)
Net changeD+7
2018 United States gubernatorial election results.svg
2018 gubernatorial election results

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold
  Undetermined

Partisan control of Congress
Previous party
Incoming party
House Republican Democratic
Senate Republican Republican

The 2018 United States elections were held in the United States on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.[a] These midterm elections took place in the middle of Republican President Donald Trump's term. 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate and all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives were contested. 39 state and territorial governorships as well as numerous other state and local elections were also contested. In the elections, the Democratic Party won control of the House of Representatives and made gains at the state level, while the Republican Party expanded its majority in the Senate.

In the House of Representatives elections, Democrats made a net gain of at least 39 seats (5 House races have not yet been called). Democratic victory in the House of Representatives ended the unified control of Congress and the presidency that the Republican Party had established in the 2016 elections.

In the Senate elections, Republicans expanded their majority by at least one seat (one race has not yet been called). In both chambers, many of the defeated incumbents represented districts that had voted for the presidential candidate of the opposing party in the 2016 presidential election. As a result of the 2018 elections, the 116th United States Congress will be the first since the end of the 99th United States Congress in 1987 in which the Democrats control the House and the Republicans control the Senate. This also marks the fourth consecutive midterm election in which at least one chamber of Congress switched to the party that does not control the presidency.

In the gubernatorial elections, Democrats won control of seven state governorships. 87 of the 99 state legislative chambers held regularly-scheduled elections in 2018 and the Democratic Party gained control of at least 350 state legislative seats and seven state legislative chambers. As a result of these elections, Democrats gained unified control of seven state governments and broke unified Republican control of four state governments. Republicans won control of the Alaska House of Representatives, won the governorship of Alaska, and established unified control in that state. In referenda, various states voted to expand Medicaid coverage, establish independent redistricting commissions, or end the practice of permanent felony disenfranchisement.

The election was characterized by relatively high voter participation, as turnout reached the highest level seen in a mid-term election since 1914. Major issues debated during the campaign include immigration, abortion, the American Health Care Act of 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Trump administration, gun control, energy policy and alleged Russian interference in the election. Pundits, journalists and political leaders differed in their assessment of the 2018 elections—some saw the elections as a major victory for Democrats, but others pointed to Democratic losses in the Senate and mixed results in the state elections.

Issues

Advertisements and issues

The 2018 mid-term elections featured a wider range and larger number of campaign advertisements than past mid-term elections.[1] Nearly half of all advertisements by Democrats focused on health care, in particular on defending the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and keeping in place protections for individuals with preexisting conditions.[2] Almost a third of Republicans ads focused on taxes, in particular the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[2] According to a report by CNN, "So far in House, Senate and governor races this year, more than $124 million has been spent on more than 280,000 immigration-related TV ad spots... that's more than five times the amount spent during the 2014 midterms, when about $23 million was spent on less than 44,000 spots."[3]

In October 2018, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported that the chief focus of Republican messaging was on fear-mongering over immigration and race. According to The Washington Post, Trump "has settled on a strategy of fear – laced with falsehoods and racially tinged rhetoric – to help lift his party to victory in the coming midterms, part of a broader effort to energize Republican voters."[4] The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Trump and other Republicans are insistently seeking to tie Democrats to unfettered immigration and violent crime, and in some instances this summer and fall they have attacked minority candidates in nakedly racial terms."[5] The Toronto Star reported that as the mid-term elections approached, Trump resorted to "a blizzard of fear-mongering and lies, many of them about darker-skinned foreigners."[6]

Vulnerable Republican candidates who voted in favor of the American Health Care Act of 2017 – which repealed portions of the Affordable Care Act – sought to defend their votes with what CNN described as "falsehoods and obfuscations."[7] A number of those Republican candidates claimed to support provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as protections for preexisting conditions, even though they voted for efforts that either weakened or eliminated those provisions.[7]

President Trump and officials campaigning

In May 2018, President Trump began to emphasize his effort to overcome the traditional strength of the non-presidential party in midterm elections, with "top priority for the White House [being to hold] the Republican majority in the Senate". He was already at that time well into his own 2020 reelection campaign, having launched it on inauguration day, 2017. In May, on a trip to Texas for a Houston fundraiser targeting the midterms, he also held a fundraising dinner in Dallas for the 2020 campaign.[8] By early August, the president's midterm efforts had included rallies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Montana and elsewhere "reprising the style and rhetoric of his 2016 campaign". Democrats "need to flip 23 seats to capture the speaker's gavel", USA Today put it. The President was addressing the economy, the border wall, the "trade war", "don't believe anything" and the space force in the rallies, per the report.[9]

In late August 2018, controversy surfaced about the degree of campaigning being done on what were termed "official" visits around the country. One report said, traditionally, partisan attacks and endorsements were kept out of official events but that President Trump was not observing that norm. Beyond the norm, one commentator was quoted referring to "laws designed to prevent taxpayer resources from being used for self-serving purposes – in this case, for campaign purposes." White House-recognized individuals "familiar with the president's thinking" spoke without attribution on a conference call and in another call about the campaigning. The individuals identified 35 events by Cabinet and senior staff members "with or affecting House districts in August already ... [all] targeted districts" and described a July 26 Presidential trip, presented as "official", as having been "for" Rep. Rod Blum of Iowa and Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois. The White House (via deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters) responded to the report: "It is unfortunate but ultimately unsurprising that a liberal publication like Huffington Post would make these misleading accusations and misconstrue the intent of the response".[10]

Federal elections

Senate

Control of Senate seats by class after the 2018 elections
Class Democratic Republican Independent Next
elections
1[b] 21 9 2 2024
2[b] 12 20 0 2020
3 12 22 0 2022
Total 45 51 2 N/A

In the 2018 elections, Republicans sought to defend the Senate majority that they had maintained since the 2014 Senate elections. 35 of the 100 Senate seats were up for election, including all 33 Class 1 Senate seats. Class 2 Senate seats in Minnesota and Mississippi each held special elections to fill vacancies. The Class 1 Senate elections were for terms lasting from January 2019 to January 2025, while the Class 2 special elections were for terms ending in January 2021. 24 of the seats up for election were held by Democrats, two of the seats up for election were held by independents caucusing with the Democrats, and eight of the seats up for election were held by Republicans.[11] Three Republican incumbents did not seek election in 2018, while all Democratic and independent incumbents sought another term. 42 Republican senators and 23 Democratic senators were not up for election.

Assuming that the two independents won re-election and continued to caucus with them, Senate Democrats needed to win a net gain of two Senate seats to win a majority.[c] Including the two independents, Democrats held approximately 74 percent of the seats up for election, the highest proportion held by one party in a midterm election since at least 1914.[11] Prior to the 2018 elections, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight wrote that Democrats faced one of the most unfavorable Senate maps that any party had ever faced in any Senate election. Silver noted that ten of the seats Democrats defended were in states won by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.[12][13] Meanwhile, the Class I Senate seat in Nevada was the lone Republican-held seat up for election in a state that had been won by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.[14] Silver predicted that even a nine-point victory in the nationwide popular vote for Congress would not be enough to give Democrats a majority in the Senate.[12] Some observers speculated that Republicans might be able to pick up a net of nine seats, which would give them the 60-seat super-majority necessary to break filibusters on legislation.[15]

Depending on the outcome of one uncalled race, Republican gained either one or two seats in the Senate. The 2018 elections were the first midterm elections since 2002 in which the party holding the presidency gained Senate seats.[11] Republicans defeated Democratic incumbents in Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and Florida. Democrats defeated the Republican incumbent in Nevada and won an open seat in Arizona where the Republican incumbent declined to seek re-election. The Senate election in Mississippi has not yet been resolved. All four defeated Democratic incumbents represented states won by Trump in the 2016 presidential election, while the lone defeated Republican incumbent represented a state won by Clinton.[14] Democratic incumbents tallied victories in the competitive Midwestern states of Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as the key Northeastern swing state of Pennsylvania.[16] Montana and West Virginia, each of which voted for Trump by a margin of at least 20 points, also re-elected Democratic incumbents.[17] After the election, Chris Cillizza of CNN noted that, by limiting their Senate losses in 2018, Democrats put themselves in position to potentially take control of the Senate in the 2020 or 2022 Senate elections.[15]

House of Representatives

Historical mid-term seat gains in the House of Representatives for the party not holding the presidency (the 2018 figure is a projection)

In the 2018 elections, Democrats sought to take control of the United States House of Representatives for the first time since the 2010 elections. All 435 voting seats in the House of Representatives were up for election to serve two-year terms. Additionally, elections were held to select five of the six non-voting delegates for the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.[d]

The 2018 House elections saw the largest number of retirements by incumbents of any election cycle since at least 1992.[18] By June 2018, 20 House Democrats and 44 House Republicans, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, had announced their retirement.[19] The disproportionate number of Republican retirements may have harmed Republican prospects in the 2018 mid-term elections due to the loss of incumbency advantage.[20][21][22]

Democrats had 193 seats immediately prior to the election, and needed to win a net of 25 seats to take control of the chamber. They are expected to win control of at least 38 seats and potentially 40.[23] This represented the Democratic Party's largest gain since the 1974 elections.[24] Democrats won the nationwide popular vote for the House of Representatives by approximately seven points, the third-highest margin won by either party since 1992.[25] The 2018 elections were the third midterm elections since 2005 in which the president's party lost control of the House of Representatives, but they represented the first time since 1954 that Republicans lost the House in the middle of a Republican president's first term.

Democrats defeated at least 23 Republican incumbents and picked up at least 12 open seats. Republicans did not defeat a single Democratic incumbent, though the party did pick up open seats in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Republicans defended the vast majority of their rural seats, but several urban and suburban seats flipped to the Democrats.[26] Many of the districts picked up by Democrats had given a majority or a plurality of their vote to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.[27] Of the 447 individuals who served in the House during the 115th Congress, 104 did not win re-election in 2018; this represents the third-highest turnover rate of any election cycle since 1974.[28] A record-breaking 35 women were elected to Congress for the first time.[29]

Special elections

There were a total of eight special elections to the United States House of Representatives. These elections were held to fill vacancies for the remainder of the 115th Congress.

Four special elections were held prior to November 6, 2018:

Four special elections were held on November 6, 2018, coinciding with the regularly-scheduled elections: