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America to wake up to divided government as Democrats win House of Representatives

What an extraordinary and contradictory night in US politics.

Americans will wake up to divided government; the world will have to deal with a country in political gridlock; and President Trump has been sent a distinctly mixed message by voters. It is part repudiation, part vindication.

First things first: The Democrats have won the House of Representatives.

That gives them real power, including control of key investigative committees that will make life a daily misery for the White House.

They needed to gain 23 seats and they have comfortably exceeded that. The era of Republican Congressional supremacy is over.

But - and this is a huge disappointment for Democrats - Republicans have actually increased their majority in the Senate, and performed well in crucial Governor races in Florida and Ohio.

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President Trump will portray this as a personal victory given his effort on the campaign trail over recent weeks.

There will be dismay among Democrats that Beto O’Rourke - the charismatic young challenger - narrowly lost to Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race.

Florida played its traditional role of being excruciatingly close. In both the Senate and the Governor’s race it has been neck and neck in the state, with Republicans exceeding expectations.

So what next for this roller-coaster presidency? Donald Trump now faces brutal trench warfare that will make his first two years seem like a serene picnic.

Democrats will launch multiple aggressive investigations into the Trump White House. They will demand the President’s tax returns. They will probe his conflicts of interests and his family finances.

Huge numbers of voters have turned out in the mid-term elections. Credit: AP

They will examine questions of nepotism and corruption.

You get the picture - there are going to be fireworks all the way to the 2020 presidential campaign.

What we don’t yet know is how the President will respond.

Will Trump now try and reinvent himself, recognise he has been humbled, and become more pragmatic? Or will he see the Senate victory as proof that his nationalistic and inflammatory rhetoric is a template going forward?

America’s government is now divided, just like the country. The next two years will be a legislative and political minefield.