LET’S start with the good news. The fightback against Donald Trump’s presidency has begun. As House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi summed it up late on Tuesday night as the midterm election results became clear, “tomorrow will be a new day in America”.

A new day indeed, but even the most cursory of glances across the front pages of yesterday’s major US newspapers made clear this is a story only just beginning and the Democrats still face enormous challenges ahead if Donald Trump is to be denied a second term in the White House.

“It’s like being the rescue team at an 88-car pileup: Who knows where to begin?” asked Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, expressing the uncertainty and feelings of some others in his party yesterday.

“I think the key principle is that we’ve got to make progress on the real problems of the country,” observed Raskin, pretty much nailing the pragmatic rather than emotional response the Democrats now need to harness in translating midterm gains into a full role in office.

Tuesday’s retaking of the House bodes well for the Democrats in this respect even if the overwhelming “blue wave” victory that would have represented a nationwide repudiation of Trump’s 2016 presidential election win did not materialise.

Talk of that “blue wave” though was not just wishful thinking as some observers have suggested. As the New York Times indicated yesterday the Democrats were on course to win the national popular vote in the midterms by perhaps as much as seven points. That’s a comparable margin to the midterms of 2010, which were considered a huge victory for Republicans.

There were many other pluses for the Democrats too. Their gains in the House came in densely populated, educated and diverse enclaves around the country, around major liberal cities like New York and Philadelphia and also red-state population centres like Houston and Oklahoma City. In these areas the Republican Party’s traditional base all but collapsed.

It was time for the good ol’boys to step back too, as a record number of women were elected to Congress. This was no doubt in part a result of a #MeToo movement Trump has long pilloried. That clearly has cost the Republicans dearly.

The National:

Sharice Davids was one of several Democrat victors to break new ground

In all, at least 98 women will be elected to the House of Representatives, 84 Democrats and 14 Republicans. Another 12 will join the Senate, 10 Democrats and two Republicans, according to projections yesterday. That figure, though not yet final, marks an all-time high for the number of women in the House. Democratic political novice Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, claimed victory in Kansas and is the state’s first Native American Congresswoman and is one of two voted in. Fellow Democrat Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American, also won a resounding victory in Minnesota.

She and Democrat Rashida Tlaib of Michigan also made history as the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

All these victories are the fruit of two years of activism that began with women’s marches across the country on the day after Trump’s inauguration and is like a breath of fresh air to US politics right now.

While all this is welcome news to those of a progressive political disposition, let’s not forget too that Republicans gained some of their most important ground on Tuesday by electing several new senators who are opposed to abortion rights.

This doubtless is a development that will help the party advance one of its bedrock issues in the future, underpinned by the Christian right to which Trump has drawn ever closer of late.

In all these new alignments, as revealed by the midterms, the shape of American politics to come and their bearing on the 2020 presidential race becomes apparent.

Which brings me to the crucial question of what happens next? Two factors are vital to consider here. The first is Trump’s reaction to his midterm setback, the second and related issue is what the implications are for his presidency given the House investigations into his administration the Democrats are now certain to unleash.

To take Trump’s reaction first, already the signs are that his most combative instincts will be laid bare. This was evident yesterday in his hailing of a “big victory” despite the obvious losses to him and the Republicans. If those biographers who know him well are anything to go by then in the aftermath of the midterms Trump will only make redoubled efforts at dominating the conversation with “big new deals”.

“I think he’ll become more lawless and more florid,” Michael D’Antonio, the author of The Truth About Trump, said tellingly in the wake of Tuesday’s result.

As a master of deflection, most observers say the president will, in typical fashion, shape future debates in a way that serves him and hype it to the hilt. Alongside this will be the now familiar rapid-fire succession of promises and threats.

As ever though we should not expect Trump to take responsibility for mistakes. As the editor of the New Yorker, David Remick summed it up yesterday: “Trump will doubtless take no blame for his party’s loss of the House. He never takes blame for anything. In the last days of the campaign, he made sure to inoculate his political ego against criticism by saying that there just wasn’t enough of him to go around”.

There will however be enough of his political and business affairs for the new Congress to get its teeth into when sworn in come January.

If one thing is certain in the wake of the midterms, it’s that the period of serious investigation of Donald Trump is about to begin. Armed with subpoena power, half a dozen House committees will now have the green light to investigate Trump – Intelligence, Oversight, Ways and Means, and Judiciary, among others.

“Tonight, the American people have demanded accountability from their government and sent a clear message of what they want from Congress,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat in line to be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, warned on Twitter following Tuesday’s result.

“The president may not like it, but he and his administration will be held accountable to our laws and to the American people,” Nadler said unequivocally.

And there you have it. Not only will the new Congress be able to curb the president’s legislative ambitions, but they will dig deep in search of answers to the questions so many have asked for so long. Trumps’ tax returns, his company’s internal financial documents, details of his oligarch partners overseas, e-mails and other digital messages between Trump’s team and people in Russia, all a veritable feast for those Democrats and others gunning for him.

But care is needed here, for Trump is far from defeated.

As David Remick rightly points out, the powers of the presidency are undiminished, and the Senate remains in Republican hands. “His capacity to wreak havoc on constitutional and international norms persists.

“His capacity to pump toxic racism into the national atmosphere persists. His capacity to undermine truth itself persists,” Remick cautions.

After two years in the political wings, the Democrats must not rise to Trump’s goading and instead chose wisely what to do with their power. Following the midterms America’s divisions have only deepened. The Democrats must now help heal and prove they are in the business of governing not just settling scores.