Control of US Congress unclear as Republican ‘red wave’ crumbles

  • Republicans still in favor of House victory
  • Key runs in both chambers are too close to call
  • Biden’s next two years at stake

ALPHARETTA, Georgia/PHOENIX, Arizona, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Republicans made modest gains in the U.S. midterm elections but Democrats fared better than expected as control of the Senate rested on three races which remained too close to be called on Wednesday afternoon.

Georgia’s U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker will go down on Dec. 6, Edison Research predicted. That means it could be weeks before control of that chamber is known, unless Democrats retain challengers from Nevada and Arizona.

Republicans have won at least eight seats in the US House of Representatives, according to Edison Research projections. That would be three more than needed to wrest control of the House from Democrats, though with 44 races still uncalled, the Republican margin could rise or fall and may not be resolved for days.

Even a narrow majority in the House would leave Republicans circling Democratic President Joe Biden over his next two years in office, blocking legislation and launching potentially politically damaging investigations.

But they appeared to be a far cry from the sweeping “red wave” victory they had sought, as Democrats avoided the kind of heavy midterm defeat that often plagues sitting presidents of either party. gone.

The results appeared to show voters punishing Biden for presiding over an economy battered by high inflation, while also attacking Republican efforts to ban abortion and cast doubt on the nation’s vote counting process.

Poor performances by some Donald Trump-backed candidates – including Walker – indicated exhaustion from the kind of chaos fomented by the former Republican president, raising questions about the viability of his eventual White House bid in 2024.

“I think his ego is just too big to handle,” Yvonne Langdon, 75, said as she cast her ballot for Republican candidates in Michigan on Tuesday.

Biden had touted Tuesday’s election as a test of American democracy at a time when hundreds of Republican candidates have embraced Trump’s bogus claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

A number of Holocaust deniers who backed Trump’s claims were elected on Tuesday, but many who sought positions overseeing state-level elections were defeated.

Fears of violence or disruption by far-right observers at polling stations did not materialize. Jen Easterly, head of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said she had seen no evidence that a voting system had been compromised.

DEMOCRATS WIN PENNSYLVANIA

Senate control would give Republicans the power to block Biden’s nominees for judicial and administrative positions. But in a critical victory for Democrats, John Fetterman overthrew a Republican-held U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, beating famed retired Trump-backed surgeon Mehmet Oz and bolstering his party’s chances of holding the chamber.

The White House entered the losses lighter than expected. “Never underestimate how underrated the Biden team is,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on Twitter.

Democrats also had their share of embarrassment, as New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the committee tasked with re-electing House Democrats, admitted he had lost his own race.

If Republicans take control of Congress, they plan to seek savings in Social Security and Medicare safety net programs and make permanent tax cuts enacted in 2017 that are set to expire.

Republicans could also stage a showdown over the debt ceiling to secure deep spending cuts and could cut aid to Ukraine.

Only 26 of the 53 most competitive races, based on a Reuters analysis of leading nonpartisan forecasters, had been decided by Wednesday morning, raising fears that the final outcome will not be known for some time. Democrats have won 20 of those 26 contests.

The party that occupies the White House almost always loses seats in elections midway through a president’s first four-year term, and Biden has struggled with low public approval.

“In this climate, we should have done better,” said Rob Jesmer, former head of the Senate Republican campaign arm.

US stock indices tear down Wednesday as uncertainty weighed on traders’ moods.

MIXED DAY FOR TRUMP

Trump, who has taken an active role in recruiting Republican candidates, has had mixed results.

He picked up a victory in Ohio, where “Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance won a Senate seat to keep it in Republican hands. But Doug Mastriano, another Trump ally, was easily beaten in the race for governor of Pennsylvania.

“While in some ways yesterday’s election was somewhat disappointing, from my personal perspective it was a very big win,” he said on Truth Social, his online platform. .

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who could challenge Trump in 2024, won reelection by nearly 20 percentage points, Edison predicted.

Thirty five Senate seats, the 435 House seats and three dozen gubernatorial races were on the ballot.

(Live election results from across the country are here.)

The main problem weighing on Democrats was stubbornly high annual inflation, which at 8.2% is at the highest rate in 40 years.

Voters in California, Michigan and Vermont have approved referendums enshrining the right to abortion in their state constitutions. Deeply conservative Kentucky seemed poised to reject a constitutional amendment that would have declared there was no right to abortion.

Reporting by Joseph Axe, Jason Lange, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Moira Warburton, Gram Slattery, Makini Brice and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington, Gabriella Borter in Birmingham, Michigan, Nathan Layne in Alpharetta, Georgia, Masha Tsvetkova in New York, Tim Reid to Phoenix and Ned Parker in Reno, Nevada, and Lucy Raitano and Amanda Cooper in London; Written by Andy Sullivan and Richard Cowan; Editing by Ross Colvin, Scott Malone, Alistair Bell and Daniel Wallis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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