BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Special Report: 1998: 09/98: US midterms  
News Front Page
N Ireland
UK Politics
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
US midterms Friday, 6 November, 1998, 12:30 GMT
Surprise gains for Democrats
Click here for interactive map of results

[an error occurred while processing this directive]In a surprise result, Democrats have made gains in the House of Representatives and in key election battlegrounds across the country.

Although Republicans have retained control of both chambers, the Democrats gained five seats in the House of Representatives and maintained their 45 seats in the Senate where they had been expected to lose up to four seats.

With only two weeks until impeachment hearings begin, the results have blunted Republican hopes of impeaching President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Democrats are certain to trumpet their gains as a mandate to end the investigation of President Clinton. The White House said Mr Clinton was "encouraged" by the results.

But as in many elections, both sides claimed victory. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is facing renewed questions about his leadership in the wake of the poor showing, said the results showed faith in the Republican party.

"This is the first time in 70 years the Republicans have kept the House for three terms," Gingrich said. "So I think it's a pretty good night."

Key states, key victories

Democrat victories were all the more surprising as history was on the Republicans' side.

Only two presidents this century - Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1934 - have seen their parties make inroads in the House during mid-term elections. Seven presidents have seen gains in the Senate.

In New York, where a bitter battle was fought, Democrat Charles Schumer beat incumbent Al D'Amato, one of Mr Clinton's leading critics.

The Democrats also did well in the richest and most populous state, California, where Barbara Boxer retained her Senate seat and Lt Gov Gray Davis won the governership.

In North and South Carolina Democrats took both senate seats up for grabs. Florida and Vermont also voted for Democratic senators.

Bush dynasty advances

G W Bush
George W Bush: Returned as Texas governor
But the Republicans had their successes too, with the nascent Bush political dynasty leading the way.

Jeb Bush, son of former President George Bush, took the governorship of Florida; and his brother George W Bush reinforced his hopes of running for the presidency in 2000 by holding onto the governor's seat in Texas.

It is the only the second time in US history that two brothers have been state governors simultaneously - the first time was between 1967-71 when Winthrop Rockefeller was Arkansas governor and brother Nelson held the post in New York.

Congress Speaker Newt Gingrich and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, two of the major Republican players in the moves to impeach President Clinton, also have retained their seats.

But the Republican Party had hoped to make gains in both houses. The BBC's Gavin Esler says there may be blood-letting in the party. The former Vice-President Dan Quayle has already spoken of a need for changes in the national Republican leadership.

Hillary's role

Polls had predicted a record low of turn-out of around 35%. But last night's voting saw nearly 38% head to the polls, nearing the 1994 level.

Both sides had worked hard to get their supporters to vote.

David Gergen, a former special counsel to President Clinton, said Hillary Clinton's campaign trail performance could have played a crucial role in encouraging Democrat voters. Mrs Clinton was one of the Democrats' most outspoken campaigners in the days running up to the election.

Mr Gergen told the BBC programme, Newsnight that if that was the case it would "have a profound effect on the president's future".

"It appears women have turned out in force and have been rallying behind Hillary Clinton in particular."

BBC News
Katty Kay: It has been called the election about nothing
BBC News
Katty Kay: For Democrats, turn-out is crucial
BBC News
David Gergen: "The Hillary election"
BBC News
James Helm on John Glenn's call from space
BBC News
Jane Hughes speaks to Americans who just don't care
BBC News
Washington Correspondent Paul Reynolds: "Clinton appears to have escaped unscathed"
BBC News
Newt Gingrich: "Solid framework for 2000"
BBC News
BBC Washington Correspondent Tom Carver: Outcome may be decided by only a handful of voters
BBC News
House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt: "Picking up seats would be historic"
BBC News
Tom Carver: Only half of Americans likely to vote
BBC News
Washington correspondent Bridget Kendall reports on the winners and losers
BBC News
BBC's Tom Carver: "A rejection of the Republican preoccupation with scandal"
See also:

30 Oct 98 | US midterms
04 Nov 98 | US midterms
04 Nov 98 | US midterms
04 Nov 98 | US midterms
04 Nov 98 | US midterms
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more US midterms stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more US midterms stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |