Midterm election predictions: 'red wave' coming to Congress

Democrats face defeat in House of Representatives and Senate

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Follow the latest news on the US midterm elections 2022

With Americans heading to the polls for the 2022 midterm elections on Tuesday, Democrats are facing being overrun by a “red wave” that will see Republicans secure control of both chambers of Congress.

Democrats have been in control of Congress since Joe Biden was sworn in as president last year, giving him the political clout to pass key pieces of his domestic agenda. But if Republicans take control of the legislature as expected, they will severely undercut his authority.

They have also threatened to establish investigative committees, shut down the probe into the January 6 attack on the US Capitol and curtail aid to Ukraine.

“I can’t think of a more consequential election that I’ve been involved in,” Mr Biden said at a recent fundraiser.

Here are how the races for the lower and upper chambers of Congress are playing out, according to the most recent polling data.

Republicans poised to retake the House

It is typical for the incumbent president's party to lose control of the House of Representatives during the first midterm elections. Data suggest this time will be no different.

Democrats hold a majority of eight seats in the 435-member House, but they are expected to be swept out by a “red wave”, a Republican victory in which the conservative party will take firm control of the lower chamber.

Republicans are projected to pick up 17 seats in the midterm elections. FiveThirtyEight's polling aggregate shows they have about a four-in-five chance of retaking the chamber.

Democrats have only a 15 per cent chance of remaining in power. Should they lose as expected, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have to surrender her gavel, the ultimate symbol of power on Capitol Hill.

Ms Pelosi declined to tell CBS this month if she would remain in House leadership should Democrats lose the lower chamber.

If the Republican Party does take back the House as expected, Kevin McCarthy — an apologist for former president Donald Trump — would be tipped as the next House speaker.

Mr McCarthy has positioned himself well to be speaker, raising hundreds of millions of dollars through different political entities this campaign cycle, Punchbowl News reported. He has also appeared at campaign events for Republican candidates.

Republicans make inroads in the Senate

Democrats are facing at another defeat in the Senate, with Republican candidates gaining the edge in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada.

Fifty-one seats are needed to control the 100-person chamber, but with the Senate evenly split 50-50, Democrats have needed to call in Ms Harris to cast her vote in tiebreaking situations.

John Fetterman, Pennsylvania's Democratic lieutenant governor, has lost significant ground to Trump-backed challenger Mehmet Oz in the state's US senate race. Mr Fetterman's once-commanding lead over the celebrity surgeon has dwindled to less than one point.

Mr Oz would become the first Muslim senator if he wins on November 8.

Meanwhile, Nevada remains a toss-up after Adam Laxalt recently overtook Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Maso.

And in neighbour Arizona, incumbent Mark Kelly has seen his advantage over Trump-endorsed Blake Masters reduce to 3.6 points, enough for pollsters to reclassify the state from “Leans Democratic” to “Tilts Democratic”.

Should Republicans win the Senate, Mitch McConnell is likely to regain the title of majority leader. If he does, he would be the longest-serving majority leader in US history.

What would a Republican-controlled Congress entail?

If the results of the midterm elections turn out as expected, then Mr Biden will have to exert his executive authority more often to bypass the obstruction of Congressional Republicans.

The US Congress, explained

- US Congress is divided into two chambers: the House of Representatives and Senate

- 435 members make up the House, and 100 in the Senate

- A party needs control of 218 seats to have a majority in the House

- In the Senate, a party needs to hold 51 seats for control

- In the event of a 50-50 split, the vice president's party retains power in the Senate

Mr Biden has refocused his messages before the midterm elections to target Republicans' economic policies, hoping to win over voters who are concerned with the nation's 8.2 inflation rate.

The Democratic president has delivered warnings of economic peril should the Republicans grab power.

The party, the White House claims, will raise prescription drug costs and insurance premiums while doling out tax breaks to the mega-wealthy.

Some Republicans have also floated introducing a federal ban on abortion, though Mr Biden has vowed to veto any such bill.

And Democrats fear that Republicans would disband the January 6 committee and probably launch their own investigation seeking to blame the insurrection on law-enforcement failings.

Mr McCarthy could also set up committees to investigate Mr Biden's son, Hunter Biden, over content found on his laptop and a separate one to inquire into the president's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Some far-right Republicans have even considered impeaching Mr Biden.

Democrats also fear Republicans would introduce legislation that slashes abortion rights. But with Democrats likely able to use their filibuster power, and with Mr Biden's veto, those efforts would probably fall short.

Still, a Republican-led Congress would significantly undermine Mr Biden's agenda before a possible 2024 presidential run.

Updated: November 08, 2022, 11:54 AM
The US Congress, explained

- US Congress is divided into two chambers: the House of Representatives and Senate

- 435 members make up the House, and 100 in the Senate

- A party needs control of 218 seats to have a majority in the House

- In the Senate, a party needs to hold 51 seats for control

- In the event of a 50-50 split, the vice president's party retains power in the Senate

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