The US Capitol building. -Courtesy of

Voting is a strange experience. It’s one of the few communal experiences left that the majority of us share. We head, herd-like, to our local elementary school, library or similar exotic and rarely visited location to enter into a cozy curtained booth and press a few buttons.

Then we emerge and experience the best part, the reason why we all really do it: so we can look trendy with a cool “I Voted” sticker.

Aside from getting the sticker, we also do it for the much less important reason of ensuring our democracy and showing a display of bottom-to-top power that enables us to construct the governmental machine surrounding us.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important factors in the 2018 midterm elections.

Democrats took the House of Representatives

The “blue wave” was a bit underwhelming, with Democrats having gained 26 seats in the House thus far, failing to reach initial estimates that speculated into the high thirties for seats gained. However, these gains allowed them to gain the majority in the House, giving them much greater leverage in stopping President Trump’s agenda. Additionally, the House will likely now look to investigate Trump on the Russia and tax returns front. Calls for impeachment haven’t yet reached a fever pitch, with most Democrats remaining tight-lipped about the prospects before the elections as a way of avoiding energizing Trump’s base. Some sectors of the Democratic party, however, aren’t shy about impeachment. Rep. Maxine Waters has been very vocal about her desire to impeach Trump. Waters won re-election in California and will likely chair the House Financial Services Committee, giving her a prominent position within the House and an expanded microphone with which to make her calls for impeachment.

Republicans expanded their hold of the Senate

FiveThirtyEight expects the GOP Senate majority to expand from 51 seats to 54 by the time all votes are tallied. This solidified majority in the Senate will bolster Trump’s chances to appoint more Supreme Court justices and further shape the judiciary courts of America. While one chamber of Congress has been lost, this hold on the Senate will give Republicans bargaining power with Democrats.

A split government

Many see our newly split government as a bulwark against potential overreach from the executive branch, or as a mitigating factor against a further move to the right for the country. Those in support of Trump and the GOP worry that the conservative agenda will now face many obstacles.

Either way, it’s likely the gridlock inherent in our government will likely increase, at least until the 2020 presidential election.

Diverse candidates won

98 women were elected to the House of Representatives and 12 to the Senate, according to the latest projections by ABC News.

Additionally, Jared Polis will become the first openly gay governor in U.S. history after winning the race in Colorado.

Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will become the first Native American women elected to Congress, and Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan will become the first Muslim women in Congress.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Voter turnout

The New York Times estimates that around 114 million ballots were cast this year, greatly surpassing the 83 million cast in 2014. This was illustrated clearly in the Texas race, where more people participated in early voting than voted entirely in 2014.

Whether you were pleased, disappointed or apathetic about the results, a lot of change will likely emanate from the decisions millions of Americans made.

Hopefully you were one of them.

And hopefully you got your sticker.

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