Can the Democrats keep control of the US House?

Republicans remain ahead, with 211 seats compared to the Democrats' 206. Eighteen still to be decided

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Five days after the US midterm elections there remains a very narrow path for the Democrats to retain control of the US House of Representatives.

It's going to be “perilously close”, President Joe Biden said on Sunday.

Such an outcome would defy almost all polls and predictions going into the November 8 elections, and would deal a stunning rebuke to the Republican Party, which supposedly had massive advantages in recent weeks including an uncertain economy, high inflation and low approval ratings for Mr Biden.

As of Sunday at noon in the US, the Republicans remained favourites to win control of the 435-seat House, having won 211 congressional seats, just seven shy of the 218 needed.

The Democrats had 206 seats, with the remaining 18 seats still up for grabs.

The maths still favour the Republicans, though the uncalled races are mainly from states in the western US, which generally skews heavily Democrat.

“It’s a stretch, where everything has to fall our way,” Mr Biden said on Sunday.

“I’ve said all along, it’ll be perilously close. We can win it. Whether we’re going to win it remains to be seen.”

It could take several days before the outcome of enough House races is known to determine which party won.

Returns were still flowing in for several races, thanks to voting rules in some places that allow mail-in ballots to be counted even after election day, provided they were postmarked by November 8.

The Democrats on Saturday retained control of the US Senate after incumbent Arizona Senator Mark Kelly and Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto defeated their Republican challengers.

The balance of power is now 50-49 for the Democrats in the Senate and even if Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock loses in a run-off election next month, the Democrats would retain power thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris's tie-breaking vote.

None of this was supposed to happen, as far as the Republicans were concerned. They had predicted a “bloodbath” of victories against the Democrats, saying a “red wave” would sweep the US as key seats flipped from Democrat to Republican.

Though they are still favourites to win the House of Representatives, the Republicans fell short of their own expectations.

Younger voters turned out in near-historic numbers to rebuke the party for overturning abortion rights and for undermining US democracy by fielding hundreds of election-denying candidates who pushed Trump's false claims that he had only lost to Mr Biden in 2020 thanks to a far-reaching shadowing conspiracy.

Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who for now at least is the Speaker of the House, told CNN on Sunday that the Republican "red wave" had dried into a "little tiny trickle".

Updated: November 13, 2022, 6:55 PM
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