Trump Ignores House Loss to Hail Senate Gains as His ‘Big Win’

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump downplayed the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House to claim his party “defied history” with Republican gains in the Senate.

Trump said at a White House press conference Wednesday his party “dramatically outperformed historical precedents” in the midterm election despite a series of retirements by Republican members of Congress.

Trump cited “tremendous energy” from Republican supporters and mocked losing Republicans such as Utah’s Representative Mia Love who didn’t “embrace” him.

Democrats won the House and flipped several governor seats by riding a surge of voter anger and discontent with Trump in suburban enclaves. Democrats’ victory in the House hobbles Trump’s ability to move his agenda forward, including another round of tax cuts and funding for a border wall. Democrats have pledged to check the president’s power and investigate his scandal-plagued administration.

But Republicans held control of the Senate and even gained seats in that chamber with backing from Trump loyalists, particularly in rural regions. Republicans scored wins in many Senate races where Trump personally campaigned, including in Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.

Before the election, Trump bragged that any candidates he backed would win. Among the 76 Republican candidates for House, Senate and governor endorsed by Trump on Twitter where the races have been called, there were mixed results. Forty-four had been declared winners and 32 had lost.

In some cases, Trump endorsed insurgent Republicans in primary elections only to see them lose in upsets to Democrats. Trump boasted of the power of his endorsement to help Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach win the gubernatorial primary in that state over incumbent Governor Jeff Colyer. Kobach, a strong Trump ally, lost his race Tuesday to Democrat Laura Kelly.

Some other candidates that tied themselves to Trump and his policies were ousted from office despite his endorsement. Republican Representative Dave Brat, who voted for Trump’s tax cuts and health-care bill, lost his re-election bid in a traditionally Republican district in Virginia.

“Congressman @DaveBratVA7th is a fighter who is doing a great job for Virginia and for our Country,” Trump tweeted on October 29. “Border, Military, Vets, 2nd Amendment and all else. We need Dave in D.C. He has my Strong Endorsement!”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also lost his re-election bid after campaigning with Trump. Scott’s loss was part of a string of Republican defeats in parts of the Midwest. Democrats won races for governor and Senate in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin--states that helped propel Trump to the presidency in 2016.

The president’s strategy of emphasizing divisive issues such as immigration appeared to backfire on Republican candidates in suburban swing districts that determined control of the House. It may have been effective, however, in largely rural states where he remains popular and where the closest Senate races played out.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.