Democratic hopes for a "blue wave" fueled by opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump fell short Tuesday with the party on track to take control of the House of Representatives even as it lost critical ground in the Senate.
Republicans increased their hold on the 100-member chamber, holding at least 51 seats in the Senate as both parties claimed legislative victories. Additional Senate races have yet to be called, but Republicans are on pace to increase their hold of the chamber after taking at least three seats held by Democratic incumbents.
Democrats were at a disadvantage heading into the midterms, holding most of the seats up for election in the Senate even as they were expected to take the House.
"Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans. It's about restoring the Constitution's checks and balances to the Trump administration," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in Washington while announcing her party's victory in the House.
U.S. President Donald Trump phoned Pelosi, who is expected to be the next speaker of the house late Tuesday evening to extend his congratulations over the Democratic victory in the House, according to Drew Hammill, who is Pelosi's chief of staff.
Trump himself lauded the Republican electoral gains, saying on Twitter: "Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!"
Still, he is unlikely to be pleased with the Democratic inroads that will see Democrats now hold the power to hold subpoena-backed investigations of the president and his administration that could see the president make public his tax returns, something he has vehemently opposed despite prior precedent.
With control of the House comes control of its committees, a power that previously laid with Republicans who were resistant to calls to take a tough line against the president.
Democrats are now more likely to actively seek to stymy the president's agenda barring a dramatic and highly doubtful about-face by the president on his major policy goals. They also now wield the power to launch a formal impeachment hearing, which if passed in the House, would be tried in the Republican-held Senate.
Trump had worked hard to ensure neither chamber fell to the Democrats, holding a campaigning blitz in the run-up to Tuesday's polls that saw him traverse the continental U.S.
In addition to Pelosi, Trump spoke by telephone with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel to congratulate him on the Republican gains, and also spoke with outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, the White House said.