Democrats struck early in the battle for the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, but faced an uphill climb to capture the Senate after Republican Mike Braun knocked off incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly in Indiana.
Most of the races that will decide the balance of power in Congress and shape the future of Donald Trump’s presidency were still too close to call as polls closed in more than half of the 50 US states, reports Reuters.
In the House, Democrat Jennifer Wexton ousted incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock in suburban Virginia outside Washington and Democrat Donna Shalala, a former Cabinet secretary under President Bill Clinton, captured the south Florida seat of a retired Republican.
That gave Democrats two of the 23 seats they need to capture the Republican-held House, slam the brakes on Trump’s agenda and exercise renewed oversight of his administration.
In the Senate, Republicans are favored to maintain control, and Democrats must pick up two seats to win a majority. Knocking off Donnelly in Indiana makes the math difficult for Democrats, with competitive Senate races still too close to call in Florida and Texas.
Incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Manchin won a hotly contested race in conservative West Virginia, and Marsha Blackburn held a Senate seat for Republicans.
Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a 2016 Democratic presidential contender, and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential nominee in 2016, easily won re-election, news networks projected. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown was projected to hold his seat in Ohio.
High-profile races for governor in Georgia, Florida and Ohio also were too close to call. A full picture of the voting results were not expected for hours, with many of the most important races considered toss-ups heading into Election Day.
The first national elections since Trump captured the White House in a 2016 upset became a referendum on the polarizing president, and a test of whether Democrats can turn the energy of the liberal anti-Trump resistance into victories at the ballot box.
The Democrats were favored by election forecasters to pick up the 23 seats in the House, but opinion polls showed they had slimmer hopes in the Senate. All 435 seats in the House, 35 seats in the 100-member Senate and 36 of the 50 state governorships were up for grabs.