Republicans inched closer to a slim majority in the House on Wednesday, while control of the Senate hinged on some tight races in a midterm election that has fueled expectations of big conservative wins, driven by frustration over inflation and President Joe Biden’s leadership, defied.
Either party could secure a Senate majority with wins in both Nevada and Arizona — where the races were too early to call. But there was a strong possibility that, for the second time in two years, the Senate majority could come down to a runoff in Georgia next month, with Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker not earning enough votes to outright not win
In the House Wednesday night, Republicans were within a dozen seats of the 218 needed to take control, while Democrats held onto seats in districts from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Kansas and many West Coast contests were still too early to call. In a particularly symbolic victory for the GOP, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, the House Democratic campaign chief, lost his bid for a sixth term.
GOP Fights to Take Back House; Senate control too early to call
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Biden’s next 2 years: changes afoot, whatever midterms bring
Control of Congress will decide how the next two years of Biden’s term play out, and whether he can accomplish more of his agenda or will see it blocked by a new GOP majority. Republicans are likely to launch a flurry of investigations into Biden, his family and his administration if they take power, while a GOP takeover of the Senate would hamper the president’s ability to appoint judges.
“Regardless of what the final tally of these elections shows, and there’s still some tallying going on, I’m willing to work with my Republican colleagues,” Biden said Wednesday in his first public comments since the polls closed. has. “The American people have made it clear, I think, that they expect Republicans to be willing to work with me as well.”
Democrats did better than history suggested they would. The party in power almost always suffers losses in the president’s first midterm election, but even if the GOP ends up winning the House, it won’t be as big as during other midterm cycles. Democrats gained a net of 41 House seats under then-President Donald Trump in 2018, President Barack Obama gained 63 from the GOP in 2010 and Republicans gained 54 seats during President Bill Clinton’s first midterm.
A small majority in the House will pose a big challenge for the GOP and especially California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is in line to be House Speaker and will have little room for error in navigating a chamber of members eager to use their votes to advance their own agenda.
In the battle for Senate control, Pennsylvania has been a bright spot for Democrats. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke five months ago, flipped a Republican-held Senate seat and topped Trump-endorsed Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Georgia, meanwhile, was set for another runoff on Dec. 6. In 2021, Warnock used a runoff to win his seat, as did Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff – who gave the Democrats control of the Senate. Both Warnock and Walker were already raising funds from the race which extended to a second round.
Both Republican and Democratic incumbents retained key seats in the Senate. In Wisconsin, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson prevailed over Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, while the Democratic sen. New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan beat Don Bolduc, a retired Army general who initially promoted Trump’s lies about the 2020 election, but tried to shift. away those views closer to election day.
AP VoteCast, a broad survey of the national electorate, showed that high inflation and concerns about the fragility of democracy are influencing voters in a big way. Half of voters said inflation has factored in significantly, with groceries, gas, housing and other costs soaring in the past year. Slightly fewer – 44% – said the future of democracy was their primary consideration.
Biden didn’t entirely shoulder the blame for inflation, with nearly half of voters saying the higher-than-usual prices were more due to factors beyond his control. And despite the president drawing criticism from a pessimistic electorate, some of those voters supported Democratic candidates.
Democrats were counting on a midterm boost from the Supreme Court’s decision to gut abortion rights, which they thought could embolden their voters, and the bet paid off. In four states where the issue was on the ballot, voters supported abortion rights. VoteCast showed that 7 in 10 national voters said that overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was a major factor in their midterm decisions. It also showed the turnaround was generally unpopular. And about 6 in 10 said they favor a law guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide.
In the first national election since the January 6 uprising, some who participated in or around the attack on the US Capitol were poised to win elected office. One of those Republican candidates, Wisconsin’s Derrick Van Orden — who was outside the Capitol during the deadly riot — won a House seat. Another, JR Majewski, ran against Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur lost.
Republicans tried to make inroads in liberal New England but were shut out of House contests, with one Maine race still to be decided by ranked-choice voting.
Governors’ races have taken on disproportionate significance this year, especially in battleground states that could help determine the outcome of the 2024 presidential election. Democrats held on to governorships in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, defeating Republicans who promoted Trump’s lies about a stolen 2020 election. Republicans held onto governorships in Florida, Texas and Georgia, another battleground state Biden narrowly won two years ago.
Trump has also had some success. He lifted Republican Senate candidates to victory in Ohio and North Carolina. JD Vance, the best-selling author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” defeated 10-term Congressman Tim Ryan, while Rep. Ted Budd beat Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
Trump endorsed more than 300 candidates across the country, hoping the night would end in a red wave he could ride toward the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. After inviting reporters and his most loyal supporters to a viewing party at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Tuesday, he ended the evening without a triumphant speech.
Still, the former president insisted on social media that he had “A GREAT NIGHT”. Hours later, Palm Beach County issued an evacuation order for an area that includes Trump’s club as Hurricane Nicole approaches.
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