WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden, who expressed optimism about the midterm elections this week despite opinion polls predicting Republican victories, had reason to feel vindicated on Wednesday morning even if his Democrats could still lose control of Congress.
Republicans can secure a narrow majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate was still up for grabs with key races in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada undecided.
But it was all part of the better-than-expected news for the White House.
Democrats resisted gloomy predictions in national races, won gubernatorial races in states considered crucial to the next election in 2024, and passed leftist measures like codifying abortion rights in Michigan.
“Unbelievable,” a stunned Biden aide said as the results arrived at the White House overnight.
The president is expected to speak on Wednesday, although his midday public schedule has yet to list an event.
Then-President Donald Trump saw his fellow Republicans lose 40 House seats in the 2018 midterm elections, and then-President Barack Obama’s Democrats lost more than 60 seats. in 2010 in what he described at the time as a “shellacking”.
Biden called three dozen Democrats who won their races to congratulate them, including Florida’s Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who at 25 became the first member of “Gen Z,” those born after the mid-1990s, to join the Congress. Aides and allies believe that Biden’s efforts to organize the election in terms of guaranteeing abortion rights, stopping right-wing political extremism and protecting health care avoided a Republican “wave”.
Republicans are likely to have gains big enough to take the House, which means they could block Biden’s promise to legalize abortion rights nationwide or ban the sale of assault weapons, and launch potentially damaging investigations into his administration and family.
While Republicans cited high inflation and crime as top voting issues, Democrats said they were more driven by abortion rights and gun violence, exit polls To display.
Democratic strategist Ben LaBolt, a former spokesman for Obama, said Republicans’ focus on investigations and potential takedowns was out of line with the government priorities favored by American voters.
“This is not to address, on a substantive level, one of the major issues facing the American people,” he said. “And that really provides an opening for Democrats.”
GOP CONTROL PREPARATION
White House advisers have begun preparations for a series of Republican inquiries that are expected to be launched from a Republican-controlled house and are prepared to govern with a more limited toolkit to issue executive orders.
If Biden’s agenda is blocked in Congress, Biden will have veto power and the bullhorn of being president to champion his and his party’s priorities.
He has two months until the end of the year during the “lame duck” period to pass legislation while Democrats still control Congress. White House officials said he would focus on securing government funding bills and money to fight COVID-19 as well as securing Senate confirmation for his presidential candidates. judiciary.
Trump allies, including U.S. Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Jim Jordan of Ohio, who both won their races easily, could have greater influence under a Republican-controlled House, and political strategists say that the party might overplay its hand.
A Republican-led Congress “would be the end of his legislative agenda in a significant way, but it’s certainly not the end of (Biden’s) political fortunes,” said Brendan Buck, former adviser to Republican Presidents Paul Ryan and John Boehner.
“Republicans have a very long history of overreach with Democratic presidents, and it’s not hard to imagine (Biden) being able to have a very strong contrast with Congress and use that to his advantage.”
Biden turns 80 this month and has questions asked on his suitability for a second term in 2024. The president has said he intends to run again, and Tuesday’s results could strengthen his case.
Earlier this year, Biden, his chief of staff Ron Klain and other aides worked to frame the midterms as a battle of “weighted” Democrats against “extreme” Republicans in league with former President Trump.
They embellished that message in June when the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. In a September speech from the birthplace of American democracy in Philadelphia, Biden said, “MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Even though members of his own party have refused to campaign with him, Biden has stuck to his anti-extremist message, adding possible threats to long-cherished social programs like Medicare under Republican leadership.
That framing has helped many Democrats like Representative Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman. historical bad luck for the party in charge in the midterm elections, Biden aides and allies believe.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Jeff Mason; Editing by Heather Timmons, Angus MacSwan and Jonathan Oatis
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