'A good day for democracy,' Biden says after Democrats defy expectations in midterms

Democrats held back a Republican 'red wave' despite losing seats in the House of Representatives

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US President Joe Biden on Wednesday celebrated the performance of his Democratic Party in the midterm elections after a predicted Republican "red wave" dried up.

"It was a good day, I think, for democracy. And I think it was a good day for America," Mr Biden said.

"While the press and the pundits were predicting a giant 'red wave', it didn't happen, and I know you were somewhat miffed by my optimism but I felt good during the whole process."

The Democratic president said the Democrats lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than any Democratic president's first midterm election in the past 40 years.

He also praised high youth turnout at the polls and said his party had "the best midterm for governors since 1986".

"On this election season, the American people made it clear they don't want every day going forward to be a constant political battle," Mr Biden said.

Despite key Republican wins in states such as Florida, which went completely "red," and victories in tight races such as the Ohio Senate election of Trump-backed JD Vance, Democrats held their ground and even had sweeping state wins.

But Republicans are likely to narrowly win control of the House of Representatives. The fate of the Senate is less clear and has come down to three key races, including in Georgia, which is going to a December run-off.

But while Democrats take a sigh of relief, the president acknowledged results did not quite warrant a victory lap.

"Any seat lost is painful. Some good Democrats didn't win," Mr Biden said.

"The voters are also clear that they are still frustrated. I get it. I understand. It's been a really tough few years in this country for so many people."

Mr Biden said he intended to speak with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the front-runner to become Speaker of the House if Republicans gain control, on Wednesday.

He said he was prepared to work with a Republican-led Congress, but also expected reciprocity.

"I'm prepared to work with my Republican colleagues," Mr Biden said.

"The American people have made clear, I think that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me, as well."

US House minority leader Kevin McCarthy talks to Republican supporters during an election party at the Westin Hotel in Washington on Wednesday. Getty / AFP

Mr Biden also said he intended to run again in the 2024 presidential election, but did not confirm if he had made a final decision.

Democrats had summer legislative victories including the Inflation Reduction Act, but they were countered by historic inflation and steep interest rates rises hitting American families hard.

Mr Biden was confident that Democrats, even with less of a grip on Congress, can deliver on the benefits of legislation after the midterm cycle, especially in the early months of 2023.

"I'm optimistic about how the public could even be more embracive of what we've done," he said.

Updated: November 10, 2022, 11:02 AM
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