WASHINGTON - Votes were being counted across half the country Tuesday night as an anxious nation watched whether President Donald Trump’s GOP would be rewarded or rejected in the first nationwide election of his turbulent presidency.
Fundraising, polls and history were not on the president’s side in a fight for control of Congress and statehouses across the nation. But two years after an election that proved polls and prognosticators wrong, most of the nation’s most competitive elections were too close to call.
Democrats seized early victories in contested House races in Florida and also in Virginia, where political newcomer Jennifer Wexton defeated two-term GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock. The Republican incumbent had been branded Barbara “Trumpstock” by Democrats in a race that pointed to Trump’s unpopularity among college-educated women in the suburbs.
And in south Florida, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala fended off a stiff challenge from Republican Maria Elvira Salazar.
Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio easily won re-election as they consider bids for the Democratic presidential nomination. Other 2020 prospects on the ballot included New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Anxious Republicans privately expressed confidence in their narrow Senate majority but feared the House was slipping away. The GOP’s grip on high-profile governorships in Florida , Georgia and Wisconsin were at risk as well.
“Everything we have achieved is at stake,” Trump declared in his final day of campaigning.
Long lines and malfunctioning machines marred the first hours of voting in some precincts, including in Georgia, where some voters reported waiting up to three hours to vote in a hotly contested gubernatorial election. More than 40 million Americans had already voted, either by mail or in person, breaking early voting records across 37 states, according to an AP analysis.
Nearly 40 percent of voters cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate, while one-in-four said they voted to express support for Trump.