Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The East Front of the Capitol is seen in Washington, on Nov. 4, 2020.

J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press

The U.S. election scrambled seats in the House and Senate but ultimately left Congress much like it began, deeply split as voters resisted big changes despite the heated race at the top of the ticket for the White House.

It’s an outcome that dampens Democratic demands for a bold new agenda, emboldens Republicans and almost ensures partisan gridlock regardless of who wins the presidency. Or perhaps, as some say, it provides a rare opening for modest across-the-aisle co-operation.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was on track to keep control of the Democratic House, but saw her majority shrinking and her leadership called into question. Control of the Senate tilted the Republicans' way as they fended off an onslaught of energized challengers, though a few races remain undecided.

Story continues below advertisement

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he’s confident “no matter who ends up running the government” they’ll be “trying to overcome all that and get results.”

One certainty is the upended projections will force a rethinking of polling, fundraising and the very messages the parties use to reach voters in the Trump era and beyond.

Ms. Pelosi has all but declared Democrat Joe Biden the presidential-race winner, saying House Democrats “will now have the opportunity to deliver extraordinary progress” on party priorities – lowering health care costs, providing jobs through new infrastructure and others.

But the dismal outcome for congressional Democrats put in question the ambitious plans for legislative overhauls pushed by the party, eager for a sweep of Washington government.

Even if Democrats capture the White House and a narrowly split Senate, Ms. Pelosi’s leverage to force deal-making on her terms will be diminished by her House losses.

If Donald Trump wins another term, his Republican allies, particularly in the Senate, will likely feel more comfortable sticking with him after escaping an electoral wipeout, though they have yet to outline a GOP agenda.

Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist close to Mr. McConnell, said win or lose Mr. Trump “reorganized the political parties,” turning Republicans, not Democrats, into the party of “working-class” America.

Story continues below advertisement

“Democrats have a lot to think about when it comes to those voters,” Mr. Jennings said. “And Republicans have a lot to think about enacting policies germane to those voters.”

Democrats countered that with Mr. Biden on the brink of victory, the mandate for solutions to the coronavirus crisis, faltering economy and other big issues was as strong as ever.

“We’re going to get back to the business of governing,” said Zac Petkanas, a Democratic strategist. “Republicans are going to have a choice – whether they’re going to be helpful or stand in way.”

Most immediately, a COVID relief bill remains within reach, as the pandemic blazes through the states. Mr. McConnell said he would also like to negotiate a big spending bill to keep the government running past a mid-December deadline.

House Republicans picked up five seats, so far, deflating Ms. Pelosi’s plans to reach deep into Trump country by making rare gains with women and minority candidates.

Republicans defeated several Democratic freshmen who delivered the House majority in 2018 in a backlash against Mr. Trump, by linking them to their most liberal members, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and inaccurately branding them all as “socialist.”

Story continues below advertisement

“We expanded this party that reflects America, that looks like America,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican.

A handful of new progressives will be coming to Washington to join House Democrats, while Republicans will see new right-flank members, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has espoused unfounded QAnon conspiracy theories and won a vacant seat in northwest Georgia. Mr. Trump has called Ms. Greene a “future Republican star.”

While Democrats picked up must-win Senate seats in Colorado and Arizona, they suffered a setback in Alabama, and Republicans held their own in one race after another – in South Carolina, Maine, Iowa, Texas, Kansas and Montana, dramatically limiting Democrats' hopes of making inroads.

“I know folks are anxious,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy told followers on a live Twitter video. “We need to count the votes.”

Democrats halted a Republican push for John James, a Black businessman trying to unseat Democratic Senator Gary Peters, who won re-election late Wednesday.

The races attracted an unprecedented outpouring of small-dollar donations for Democrats from Americans apparently voting with their pocketbooks to propel long-shot Senate campaigns.

Story continues below advertisement

“You wasted a lot of money,” said White House ally Senator Lindsey Graham in Columbia, S.C., after defeating Jaime Harrison, despite the Democrat’s stunning US$100-million haul for his upstart campaign.

Still, Republican strategist Steven Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, which supports GOP senators, said future candidates are going to have to step up their own fundraising.

Mr. McConnell also warned of the continued problems Republicans face in the Trump era as voters turn away from the GOP.

“We need to win back the suburbs,” Mr. McConnell said. “We had a better election than most people thought we’d have, but we have improvements we need to make.”

Republicans believe Democrats erred by focusing almost exclusively on the COVID-19 crisis and the risks to Americans' health care as Mr. Trump and the GOP try to unravel the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

Voters care almost as much about the economy, they said.

Story continues below advertisement

According to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate, voters ranked the pandemic and the economy as top concerns.

“It’s time for a different approach,” said Democrat John Hickenlooper, a former governor who unseated Republican Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado.

Yet voters, for the most part, stuck with the status quo.

Securing the Senate majority will be vital for the winner of the presidency. Senators confirm administration nominees, including for the Cabinet, and can propel or stall the White House agenda. With Republicans now controlling the chamber, 53-47, three or four seats will determine party control, depending on who wins the presidency because the vice-president can break a tie in the Senate.

The final breakdown awaited the outcome of races in Alaska, Georgia and North Carolina, where Republican Senator Thom Tillis has struggled against Democrat Cal Cunningham, despite the married challenger’s sexting scandal with a public-relations strategist.

In Georgia, two seats were being contested and at least one is headed to a runoff after no candidate reached the 50 per cent threshold to win.

Story continues below advertisement

GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler will face Democrat Raphael Warnock, a Black pastor at the church where the Martin Luther King Jr. preached, in the Jan. 5 runoff.

In the other Georgia race, GOP Senator David Perdue, the former business executive Mr. Trump calls his favourite senator, tried to stave off Democrat Jon Ossoff. It, too, could go to a runoff.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies