Midterm elections 2022: Republican control of US House probable but Senate a toss-up

Key races in Nevada and Arizona are too close to call, and in Georgia, results won't be known until a December 6 run-off election

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The Republican Party inched closer to taking control of the US House of Representatives on Thursday, albeit with a smaller majority than they had predicted, while the fate of the Senate may not be known for weeks.

As of midday, two days after the midterm elections, Republicans had won 208 of the 218 seats needed to secure a majority in the 435-seat chamber, gaining 10 from the Democrats, who only had 190. Another 37 seats had yet to be announced.

Greater uncertainty surrounded the fate of the 100-seat Senate, where Republicans had won 49 seats and Democrats 48.

Key races in Nevada and Arizona remained too close to call, and in Georgia, results will not be known until a December 6 run-off election.

Either party could still win — but if it is 50-50, power stays with the Democrats, as Vice President Kamala Harris has a tiebreaking vote.

Election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona's most populous, said it could take until at least Friday to tally all the votes.

Tuesday's elections marked a remarkable departure from decades of midterms, in which the president's party historically suffered huge losses, such as in 2010, when Barack Obama famously saw his Democratic Party dealt a “shellacking” by the Republicans.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday appeared buoyant, declaring the elections marked a good day for democracy”, after Republican candidates who had parroted former president Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud in 2020 failed to make widespread gains.

In the US, it is the states that run elections and Democrats were afraid that election deniers would work openly to further subvert America's frayed democratic processes.

Tuesday's results also suggested voters were pushing back against Republican efforts to ban abortion.

Mr Biden said the Democrats had lost fewer seats in the House this year than in 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".

Still, he acknowledged the headwinds he will continue to face, in a nod to high inflation and an uncertain economy.

“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,” he said.

If the Republicans do indeed capture the House, Mr Biden's political life will get a lot more difficult.

Not only will his legislative agenda come to a screeching halt, but the Republicans will also launch a string of investigations into a number of topics, including his son Hunter Biden's stolen laptop, which contains vast troves of compromising material, and the end of the Afghanistan war.

Mr Biden acknowledged that reality, saying he was prepared to work with Republicans to get bills passed.

A White House official said Mr Biden spoke by phone with Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy, who announced earlier in the day his intention to run for speaker if his party takes control of the chamber.

Immigrant communities in Arizona fear US midterm election outcome — in pictures

Republicans are expected to demand spending cuts in exchange for raising the nation's borrowing limit next year, a showdown that could spook financial markets.

Control of the Senate, meanwhile, would give Republicans the power to block Mr Biden's nominees for judicial and administrative posts.

Meanwhile, the fallout for Mr Trump grew after many of his picks lost, including notably Mehmet Oz in the critically important Pennsylvania Senate race.

Advisers are urging him to rethink presumed plans to announce his candidacy for a 2024 White House run next week, and the normally friendly conservative press has appeared to turn on the former leader.

The New York Post on Thursday called him “Trumpty Dumpty” who was unable to build a wall, while it and other outlets lionised Ron DeSantis, who easily won re-election as Florida's governor, as the future of the Republican Party.

The New York Post described former president Donald Trump as 'Trumpty Dumpty' who could not build a wall. Photo: Screengrab
Updated: November 11, 2022, 4:25 PM
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