America remains as politically divided as ever after Donald Trump’s move to turn the key mid-term elections into a referendum on his presidency appeared to have paid off.
The expected “blue wave” of Democrats mobilising against the most controversial President in US history failed to materialise, despite record numbers turning out to vote in one of the closest elections in decades. But with the results suggesting that America is just as divided as it was two years ago, who were the winners and losers from last night?
Winners: Republicans in the Senate/Losers: Democrats in the Senate
Predictions that Republicans could lose control of the Senate proved wide of the mark as, far from losing its majority, the party picked up seats in the upper chamber.
Losing Democratic candidates included the charismatic Beto O’Rouke, seen as a future presidential nominee and whose supporters include the singer Beyonce, who was narrowly defeated in Texas.
Winners: Democrats in the House of Representatives/Losers: Republicans in the House of Representatives
But there was silver lining for the Democrats on an otherwise disappointing night, as they captured the lower House of Representatives by a substantial margin, giving them control over the country’s finances.
Winner: Diversity in politics
In New York, the socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, considered a future star of the party, became the youngest woman ever to enter Congress.
Record numbers of women were expected to enter both branches of Congress, including the first female Native Americans, Muslims and a Korean-American.
The country’s first openly gay governor, Jared Polis, was elected in Colorado.
Loser: Women's rights
Women in at least two states, Alabama and West Virginia, lost abortion rights after voters in local referendums decided to limit their ability to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
Winner: Voter turnout
Mid-term elections usually attract low voter turn-out, but at a time of fevered political debate across the States, voters came out in huge numbers to deliver their verdict on the current incumbent of the White House.
Many races were decided by single percentage points, or even a handful of votes, highlighting the scale of division in neighbourhoods across the country. In some areas, the result was so close that re-runs will now have to be held.
The mood was captured by Mr Trump himself, who told one crowd shortly before the polls opened: “The mid-terms used to be boring, didn’t they? Now they’re the hottest thing.”
Winner: Donald Trump/Loser: Donald Trump
Unusually for a sitting president, Mr Trump had been a frequent presence on the campaign trail, stoking alarm over immigration, and in particular the “caravan” of around a thousand migrants currently making their way through Mexico and headed towards the American border. Critics described some of his remarks as inflammatory and even racist.
The mid-terms will be viewed as a guide to how Americans see President Trump at the halfway point of his presidency, at a time when Democrats in particular had been hoping his unexpected victory two years ago could be dismissed as an aberration.
Instead, he now emerges as the favourite to win the presidency again in 2020.
The prize for his opponents had they captured the Senate would have been high. Democrats could have used a majority to launch a series of investigations into Mr Trump and his conduct before and since taking office.
As it is, the President will feel emboldened to continue on the course he has set, with further trade tariffs and moves against illegal immigrants such as removing American citizenship from children born in the US if their parents did not have the legal right to be there at the time.
Democrats had hoped that women in particular would turn against Mr Trump in the wake of the controversy over his nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to sit on the Supreme Court, in the face of allegations that, as a teenager, he sexually assaulted a fellow high school student during a drunken party.
But with the economy performing strongly, and many Americans benefitting from Mr Trump’s trade policies, Americans in key Senate battle states including Texas, Tennessee and North Dakota decided to disregard reservations they might feel about his approach to the presidency.
Winner: Nancy Pelosi
The loss of the House of Representatives remains, however, a blow for Mr Trump. The formidable Nancy Pelosi, a long-time Representative from California, is now expected to become Speaker of the House, and will prove a formidable opponent.
Speaking from Democratic Headquarters, Mrs Pelosi said: “Today is about more than Democrats and Republicans – it’s about restoring the constitutional checks and balances on the Trump administration… But more than anything it’s about what a new Democratic majority will mean in the lives of hardworking Americans.
“A Democratic Congress will work for solutions that will bring us together. Because we have all had enough of division. The American people want peace.”
Although it does not have as many powers as the Senate, the House of Representatives can block Mr Trump from raising the money he needs to implement many of his policies.
There was also speculation that the President could be compelled by the Democrat-controlled House to release his tax returns.
The results of the mid-terms suggest that the political map of the United States is shifting under Mr Trump. White working class areas in the north and east which traditionally supported the Democrats seem to appreciate his promises to restore jobs by making America “great again” and limiting foreign imports.
In contrast, former Republican strongholds in the south are turning towards the Democrats, as growing numbers of former immigrants move into areas which were once largely white.