What Could Happen in Every Federal Scenario on Election Day?

It’s not an overstatement to say that the future of the United States hinges on this election. The results on Tuesday, November 6  will determine where the country heads over the next two years until Democrats get another chance to take back the White House and reverse the damage that President Donald Trump and his allies have wreaked on the nation.

But knowing what will come is nearly impossible, due to the effects that massive voter turnout, unprecedented voter suppression and a wave of first-time voters are having on usual election patterns. Most of the races that could solidify the balance of power in the House and Senate are in statistical dead heats — and that means everything is up in the air.

Here’s a look at what to expect based on who wins each chamber.

1. Democrats win the House and lose the Senate

This scenario seems to be the most likely at this point, based on early voter turnout and party enthusiasm. Split chambers mean that, once again, it’s very unlikely that any actual legislation will make it to the president for signature — but that could well be an improvement over the other possibility: two more years of far-right bills because of GOP dominance.

With Democrats holding the House and Republicans controlling the Senate, the two parties would be forced to find common ground for must-pass legislation like budget bills or debt ceiling increases, opening the possibility to keep popular policies like the Affordable Care Act intact as a compromise.

Or, the Democratic House could take a page from the Obama-era GOP and “scorch-earth” the process, holding the country hostage until all of its demands are met — although that would take far more bravery than we usually see from the left.

Meanwhile, taking over the House would mean that Democrats control House committees, opening up the possibility for numerous investigations into the inner-workings of the Trump administration. That means more focus on whether there was collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign, the chance to finally see what was in the president’s tax returns and even bringing impeachment to the table.

But remember, impeachment doesn’t mean removing the president from office, even if it does occur. Plus, there’s little indication that a President Mike Pence would do any less harm to the country than President Trump.

2. Democrats win the Senate and lose the House

It’s not very likely that this will happen on Tuesday, but it’s a possible outcome. If Democrats win the Senate, it does have one very significant benefit: a slowing down of the Trump administration’s unprecedented judicial bench-packing.

If there’s any doubt that the Democrats have a chance at taking the Senate, you only need to look at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s broken promise to stop moving judicial confirmations while the Senate was on break for campaigning in the final weeks of the cycle.

Democrats and Republicans agreed that they would confirm a large pool of federal justices at once in order to recess and head home for some final door-knocking before Election Day. McConnell accepted the deal and the pool was confirmed — but then he kept a few Republican senators in D.C. in order to keep recess from being called and pushed another round of hearings through without Democrats so those judges can be confirmed after the election.

That’s not exactly the move of a man who believes he’s going to have the Senate in 2019.

A Democratic victory in the Senate won’t just mean stopping the march of conservative judges — and protecting the Supreme Court if another vacancy arises. It will also put a check on any extreme legislation that comes through a Republican House. And frankly, we need that very badly if we are going to get through the next two years in one piece.

3. Democrats win the House and Senate

Obviously these results would be amazing, and they would change the entire course of the country. Having majorities in both chambers means that Democrats could enact a truly progressive agenda, bring back health care protections, undo tax cuts for millionaires, fund needed social safety net advances and stop the upcoming GOP assaults on Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. It would also stop the building of an uber-conservative permanent judiciary.

Unfortunately, it’s a tough outcome to picture actually occurring. Lost in the “blue wave” excitement is the fact that, at the beginning of 2017, Democrats saw simply preventing a veto-proof Republican majority as a victory.

That there’s even hope that Democrats could possibly take the Senate is a huge change, but it’s still an extreme long shot. The right has focused extremely hard in Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, West Virginia and Indiana in order to flip seats there. Not only do Democrats need to hold every single one of those seats, but they also need to do their own nabbing of a race in Texas, Tennessee or Arizona.

It can happen, but the odds are definitely stacked in the Republicans’ favor.

4. Democrats lose both the House and the Senate

Not only is this the worst-case scenario from a federal legislative standpoint, but it’s also the worst scenario for the overall health of the political system.

If the House and the Senate remain in conservative control, there will be absolutely no check whatsoever on President Donald Trump’s power. Even worse, the right will see the victory as confirmation that there are absolutely no consequences to their racist, misogynist, anti-civil rights, anti-poor, anti-LGBT, pro-conservative Christian agenda.

The stakes couldn’t be higher this election, so please be sure to cast your ballot and make your vote count.

Photo credit: Tony Webster/Flickr


David F
David F5 months ago

Julie W, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was overwhelmingly elected by the people as a Democrat socialist.
The people there were totally overwhelmed with Fake News propaganda "take from the rich and give to the poor". The obvious result was even the poorest became even more poor.
Socialism has marched across the planet and outright killed millions, disrupted most of the world population, stopped progress, caused abject poverty which . You shouldn't need a History lesson unless you went to a government school or college.

Denmark or Norway are capitalist countries with lower corporate taxes than the US. (even after Trumps Tax cuts)


hELEN h5 months ago


Danuta W
Danuta W5 months ago

Thanks for posting

Sue H
Sue H5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Alea C
Alea C5 months ago

The election is over and I'm happy to say amendment 13 passed in Florida so eleven dog tracks will be closing!

Peggy B
Peggy B5 months ago


Shirley S
Shirley S5 months ago

My fingers are crossed from afar.

Anne M
Anne M5 months ago

Number 3 sounds good to me... - We'll see in a few hours from now,, sit tight...

Julie W
Julie W5 months ago

David F, if they had talked to people in Denmark or Norway they would have had a totally different reaction, and it might have been a balanced discussion. Venezuela is hardly 'democratic'. Americans ignorantly, associate socialism with communism, and need to be educated.

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld5 months ago

I agree with Wesley, with #2 having almost no chance.