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Dems flip a string of GOP seats in early House returns

AP  |  Washington 

The Democrats picked up at least 10 Republican-held seats across the eastern half of the country in early returns Tuesday but fell short in a closely watched race in as they fought to wrest control of the chamber from the GOP.

Democrats needed a net gain of 23 seats to break the Republicans' eight-year hold on the and gain a check on

The Democratic gains included several suburban districts eyed for turnover because they were won by in 2016.

In the area, former Clinton administration Cabinet member won an open seat, while GOP Rep. lost his bid for a third term in another district.

In the suburbs outside the nation's capital, Virginia Rep. among the most endangered GOP incumbents, branded Barbara "Trumpstock" by Democrats lost to Jennifer Wexton, a Wexton was among the record number of women running this year.

And in Kansas, Democrat beat a GOP incumbent to become the first Native American and gay woman elected to the

But in Kentucky, one of the top Democratic recruits, retired Amy McGrath, lost her bid to oust to three-term Rep. in the Lexington-area district.

looked particularly daunting for Republicans after court-imposed redistricting and a rash of retirements put several seats in play.

Democratic favourite Conor Lamb, who stunned by winning a special election in the state, beat Republican Rep. in a new district.

At least three other red districts flipped to blue.

As Election Day unfolded, Democrats were increasingly confident, predicting a House majority on the strength of voter enthusiasm, robust fundraising and unusually fresh candidates.

Democratic control of the House would break the GOP's monopoly on power in and would almost certainly bring an onslaught of investigations of Trump's businesses and his administration.

"I feel confident we will win," House said as the polls opened.

Midterm elections are typically difficult for the party in power, and GOP incumbents were on defense in races across the country. More women than ever were running, along with military veterans and minorities, many of them motivated by Trump's rise.

The campaign unfolded against a backdrop of jarring political imagery, heated rhetoric and angry debates on immigration, health care and the role of in overseeing the

To stem Republican losses, Trump sprinted through mostly white regions of the country, interjecting dark and foreboding warnings about what Democratic power would mean for the nation.

The debate was dominated not by the GOP's USD 1.5 trillion tax cuts but by Trump's dire prediction of "invasion" from the migrant caravan and what he called the "radical" agenda of speaker-in-waiting Pelosi.

GOP of predicted his party would retain a slim majority, saying on election eve: "In the end, we hold the House because of the strong economy."

Health care and immigration were high on voters' minds as they cast ballots, according to a wide-ranging survey of the American electorate conducted by AP. AP VoteCast also showed a majority of voters considered Trump a factor in their votes.

For Democrats, the road to the 218-seat majority ran through two dozen suburban districts won in 2016 and through swaths of Trump country in the Rust Belt and heartland where voters backed the two years ago.

How women and independent voters cast their ballots was likely to determine the outcome.

Ballot counting could drag in tight races, leaving some races undecided long after Election Day.

Outside Richmond, one-time tea party favourite Rep. faced an unusually strong challenge from Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA motivated to run for office after the to gut the Affordable Care Act. Like other Democrats across the country, Spanberger emphasized protecting people with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage or charged more by insurers.

In a suburban battleground in Atlanta, Republican Rep. won a costly special election earlier this cycle but faced an upstart challenge from Lucy McBath, whose 17-year-old son was shot and killed at a

The GOP's hold on the majority was complicated by an unusually large number of retirements as well as persistent infighting between conservatives and centrists, with much of the conflict centered on the question of allegiance to Trump.

In North Carolina, Republicans were struggling to hold onto a seat where Baptist ousted a GOP incumbent in Harris was facing a stiff challenge from veteran and

Republicans had expected the GOP tax plan would be the cornerstone of their election agenda this year, but it became a potential liability in key states along the East and West coasts where residents could face higher tax bills because of limits on property and sales tax deductions.

The has been particularly problematic for Republicans in New Jersey, where four of five GOP-held seats were being seriously contested. Democrat Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor, was favoured for a suburban seat that became open after the sudden retirement of the of the

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, November 07 2018. 09:30 IST