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People vote at a mall Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Henderson, Nev. (AP/John Locher)

Washington - In times of political polarization, tens of millions of Americans went to the polls yesterday - apparently in a high turnout for a midterm election - as part of the election that will define the control of the future Congress and 36 state governments.

A higher voter turnout than in recent mid-term elections fueled in the Democrats the hope of, at least, winning 23 additional seats and reaching the House majority.

"I think we'll be between 36 and 46 (additional) seats in the House," said Terry McAuliffe, former Virginia Governor, who was also president of the US Democratic Party, and who is also close to the Clintons.

All 435 House seats and 35 of the 100 Senators were up for election as well as 36 governors and state legislatures.

In the legislative and state elections it is voted for 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate, the 435 members of the House, 36 governors and state legislatures.

Although mixed results were expected, this election was the first opportunity for voters to express themselves about their governments after the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.

In the House there are 240 Republicans and 195 Democrats and 7 vacancies. Republicans have a tight majority 51-49 in the Senate.  But the 35 senatorial seats in dispute benefited Republicans.

Republicans were favorites to retain control of the Senate. Meanwhile, Democrats hoped to win several governor´s mansions in the 36 gubernatorial races.

Among the first projections, networks announced the re-election of Senators Bernie Sanders, independent for Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, and Tim Kaine, Democrat for Virginia.

According to preliminary exit poll data, 65 percent of the voters had President Trump in mind when voting today, said CNN. Of those, 39 percent wanted to oppose Trump and 26 percent sought to support him. 33 percent said that Trump was not a factor that motivated them to vote.

Preliminary data added that Trump had only 44 percent of voter approval. 55 percent disagrees with him.

The main issues for voters were health care (41 percent), immigration (23 percent), economy (21 percent) and public policy on access to firearms (21 percent).

68 percent of the interviewees indicated that the economy is fine, but, at the same time, 56 percent are worried about the route the US is taking.

In terms of the major American political parties, Democrats had a better perception than Republicans. The approval level for Democrats was around 50 percent while that of Republicans, 43 percent.

Four out of five voters considered it important to vote for women.

Meanwhile, three quarters of respondents considered that extreme violence in the US is worrisome.

The Zogby survey, conducted days before election day, indicated that health care (30 percent), economy and jobs (25 percent) and President Trump (19 percent) were the issues that most motivated them to vote.

Estimates on early voting reached 39 million, well above the 27 million for the 2014 mid-term election.

In the 2016 presidential elections, advance voting reached 44 million.

Former Mississippi governor and former president of the US Republican Party Haley Barbour, thought that the tax and regulatory policies and the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, made the difference to mobilize conservative voters to the polls and help Republicans win.

Although many Republicans urged him to emphasize on the economy, President Trump closed the campaign with incendiary messages about immigration, in a clear effort to mobilize his conservative base, mainly in the states that would define the future American Senate

His campaign even promoted a television ad that falsely accused Democrats of being responsible for the release of an undocumented Mexican immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, who bragged in court about the murder of two California police officers in 2014.

The ad -rejected by networks such as FOX and CNN- included videos of the migrant caravan that is now in Mexico and that aims to bring thousands of people to seek political asylum on the border with the US.

In the last hours, Trump published an opinion article in which he urged voters to look at the economic advances, which include reducing the unemployment rate to 3.7 percent, and retaining Republicans at the head of the government.

"Now America faces a critical choice: whether to build on the extraordinary prosperity that Republican policies have delivered for our nation – or whether to allow Democrats to take control and take a giant wrecking ball to your economy and your future." said President Trump.

"A colossal error"

But conservative sectors consider that President Trump mobilized the anti-Republican vote in the suburbs by announcing that he would issue an executive order to prevent the children of foreigners born in the US from obtaining US citizenship.

Despite being a constitutional issue, conservative commentator Erick Erickson considers that this was "an unforced colossal error". On Twitter, Erickson said that, after that announcement, there was a turn in the polls in favor of Democrats in recent days.

Regarding Puerto Rico, depending on what happens in the last days of the 2018 session, the reconstruction of the island after the devastation caused by hurricane María and seeking  a solution to the financing of the health system through the Medicaid program will be in the hands of the future Congress.

There must also be pressure from various sectors regarding tax issues, such as full access to federal credit for dependent children and the treatment of foreign companies on the island.

Hours before official results were released; congressional Democratic candidate Alexandria Ocasio Cortez said on Twitter that "as my family in Puerto Rico watches me run for Congress, they still don’t have the right to vote in federal elections - despite being subject to federal lawmakers.”

Puerto Rican vote

The polling firm Latino Decisions had projected that three-quarters of the Puerto Rican voters would prefer Democratic candidates in this election.

In Florida, Latino Decisions predicted that 60 percent of the Hispanic voters would vote for that state Democratic candidates.

The majority of Cuban voters - who, like Puerto Ricans, represent 31 percent of Florida's Hispanic population - identify themselves with the Republican Party.


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