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US midterms: Democrats on track to take House, Republicans hold Senate

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Washington, Nov 7 (IANS) Democrats were on track to capture control of the House of Representatives, while Republicans would retain control of the Senate and may even increase their majority, according to projections based on exit polls and early returns from Tuesdays midterm elections.

Democrats captured 13 Republican-held seats early, ejecting incumbents in the suburbs of Kansas City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Miami and Washington D.C., reports The Washington Post.

The wins moved them closer to taking the House majority for the first time since 2011, when the "tea party" wave swamped Democrats in President Barack Obama’s first midterm elections.

By winning the House, Democrats will gain a powerful new pedestal to investigate President Donald Trump’s administration, his personal finances, and the hotels, golf courses and other businesses he still owns.

They were also likely to press for details about the 2016 election, asking whether Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government’s efforts to sow misinformation and pro-Trump messages.

Meanwhile, the Republicans snuffed out Democrats’ hopes of winning the Senate. The party seemed likely to increase its majority, by holding on to key seats in Florida, Texas and Tennessee and winning Democrat-held seats in North Dakota and Indiana.

In Florida, Republican Representative Ron DeSantis defeated Tallahasee Democrat Mayor Andrew Gillum in the race for governor.

Most recent polls had shown Gillum ahead.

The two parties each won important governorships, reports The New York Times.

In Michigan, a historic Democratic stronghold that the President carried narrowly in 2016, voters chose Gretchen Whitmer, a former Democratic leader in the State Senate.

Illinois voters elected J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat and Hyatt hotel heir, over the embattled governor, Bruce Rauner.

In other Senate races, Democrats won reelection in Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, all states that Trump carried in 2016 on his way to a surprise election victory.

However, major Senate races remain undecided in Arizona, Nevada and Montana.

All 50 states and Washington D.C. went to the polls on Tuesday as Republicans and Democrats battle for control of the two houses of Congress, with experts saying that voter turnout could be the highest for a midterm election in 50 years, CNN reported.

Americans were voting for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of 100 seats in the Senate – the two bodies that make up Congress. Governors are also being chosen in 36 out of 50 states.

To win congressional majorities, Democrats would need a net gain of 23 seats in the House and two seats in the Senate.

Trump’s approval rating stood at 39 per cent in the latest CNN poll.

Trump, who will complete his second year in the White House in January 2019, has campaigned non-stop in the midterm elections, focusing on states where his Republican Party has a chance to pick up seats, especially in the US Senate.

The President has touted his administration’s economic policies, which have resulted in strong economic growth, record job creation and low unemployment.