Updated on November 7 at 1:36 p.m.
In the lead-up to the midterm elections, President Donald Trump tried to have it both ways. “I’m not on the ballot, but in a certain way, I’m on the ballot,” he told supporters, yet he also made clear that he wouldn’t take the blame if Republicans did poorly.
And in the end, he sort of got it both ways. Democrats handily won the House of Representatives, picking up about 34 seats. But Republicans gained seats in the Senate and limited losses in governors’ races. Anyone hoping that Tuesday’s results would deliver a clean verdict on the Trump presidency, either up or down, was disappointed, even as voters told exit pollsters that Trump was the dominant factor in the election. Yet the outcomes still tell us something about the strengths and weaknesses of the president’s campaign strategy—and, more important, about the slog that’s ahead for the next two years in Washington, as Democrats harry Trump from their perch in the House. The result is arguably much worse for Trump personally than for the Republican Party as a whole.
The president struck a characteristically brash, belligerent pose over the results. In a press conference at the White House at midday Wednesday, called the election “close to a complete victory.” He also said this was the largest Senate gains for the president’s party since 1962.
But Trump betrayed a less positive feeling about the results, lashing out at the press and Democrats.