US mid-terms: How election results just got worse for Trump

It’s taken almost two weeks, but most of the dust has finally settled from the 2018 mid-term elections. What initially appeared to be a mixed picture for Donald Trump and the Republicans has grown darker – but there is a Sunshine State silver lining.

On the morning after polling, Mr Trump said the results showed almost a “complete victory”.

Even at the time that was difficult to square with the reality that his party had lost control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years.

There was the prospect that the Republicans were going to make historic gains in the Senate, however. The president boasted of the possibility of a four-seat pick-up – which would build the largest majority for his party in more than a century.

Such a historic win was not to be.

Here’s a look at some of the most significant developments since the first round of election-night instant analyses, many of which were written when it was challenging to spot the Democratic wave among the evening’s early returns.

Orange (County) is the new blue

It became clear near midnight on election day that Democrats would take control of the House of Representatives. The only question was the size of their majority.

Much of that depended on the outcome of very close races and the slow trickle of results from California mail-in balloting. What could have been only a tenuous Democratic hold on power has slowly grown to a more robust advantage – and California is a big reason why.

In Orange County, the heavily populated suburbs south of Los Angeles, Republicans were routed. What used to be backbone of conservatism in the state – the home of Richard Nixon, a place Ronald Reagan once referred to as “Republican heaven” – turned Democratic blue.

Four Republican-held districts in the county fell, marking the first time since 1940 that all seven of its House seats will be represented by Democrats.

Add another two seats elsewhere in California, and there are only eight Republicans left in the state’s 53-seat congressional delegation.

Except for a small Republican-held slice of southern Washington, the entire Pacific coast of the continental US will now be represented in the House by Democrats.

Orange County was expected to be a battleground in 2018.

Democrat Hillary Clinton beat Mr Trump throughout the area in 2016, and the president remains largely unpopular there. The scope of the rout, however, was remarkable.

Combined with post-election-day victories for Democrats in New Jersey, Washington, Georgia and Maine (and more on that in a minute), the Democratic House majority will have at least a 14-seat cushion with five races left to be decided.

Although the size of the victory in terms of seats is dwarfed by the Republican waves of 2010 and 1994, it is the largest Democratic House gain since the post-Watergate election of 1974.

A more modest Senate swing

If the House results were good news for the Democrats, the Senate appeared to be another story. Midway through election night, a flurry of embattled Democratic Senate incumbents were toppled.

Joe Donnelly, despite pre-election polls showing he might hang on to his seat in conservative Indiana, was quickly defeated.

Claire McCaskill, who seemed to be living a charmed political life, saw her luck run out.

Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, a state that Mr Trump won by more than 30% in 2016, was buried.

Yes, Democratic incumbents won surprisingly easy victories in Trump-carried states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and across the Midwest, but the losses were mounting.

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