Phoenix, Ariz./Birmingham, Mich., Nov. 8 (Reuters) – Republicans are poised to wrest control of the U.S. House of Representatives from President Joe Biden’s Democrats in early midterm elections on Tuesday, but the odds remain “red.” Wave” seemed to fade.
With polls closed in much of the country, Republicans flipped five Democratic seats in the U.S. House, the number Edison Research predicted would be needed to capture a majority and block Biden’s legislative agenda.
But crucially, that number could swing closer to 200 of the 435 House races, including some vulnerable Republican incumbents.
Given Biden’s weakened approval ratings and voter frustration over inflation, early results suggested Democrats could avoid the kind of sweep some in the party feared.
But even a narrow Republican majority could block Biden’s priorities while launching politically damaging investigations into his administration and family.
The US Senate was too close to call, with key races in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia and Arizona all looking like toss-ups. The Georgia race will end in a Dec. 6 runoff, with the Senate possibly at stake.
Democrats currently control the 100-seat Senate, and Vice President Kamala Harris could break a 50-50 tie.
In addition to every House seat, 35 Senate seats and three dozen gubernatorial races are on the ballot. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, defeated Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, Edison predicted.
The final result of the Congress contests is unlikely to be known soon. More than 46 million Americans voted by mail or in person before Election Day, according to data from the American Elections Program, and state election officials warn that counting those votes will take time.
(Direct election results across the country Here.)
High inflation and abortion rights were voters’ top concerns, poll results suggest.
A sign of Republican strength can be seen in several competitive House districts that Biden would have won in 2020 under recently redrawn boundaries.
In Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria trailed her Republican counterpart, Jennifer Gickens, by 10 percentage points, with more than 90% of the expected votes counted. Biden carried the district by two points.
In Rhode Island’s 2nd District, Republican Alan Fung trails Democrat Seth Magazine by 4 percentage points and is on track to outperform Republican former President Donald Trump, who lost the district by 14 points in 2020.
Local officials reported isolated problems across the country, including a paper shortage in the state of Pennsylvania. In Arizona’s Maricopa County — a key battleground state — a judge rejected a Republican request to extend voting hours after some tabulating machines malfunctioned.
The problems fueled unsubstantiated claims among Trump and his supporters that the failures were deliberate.
A number of Republican candidates echoed Trump’s false claims that his 2020 loss to Biden was due to widespread fraud.
In swing states like Arizona, Michigan and Nevada, Republican candidates who head the state’s election apparatus have embraced Trump’s lies, raising fears among Democrats that they could interfere in the 2024 presidential election if they win.
“They deny that the last election was fair,” Biden said on a radio show aimed at black voters. “They’re not sure they’ll accept the results until they win.”
Trump, who voted in Florida, has often hinted at a third presidential run. He said on Monday that he will make a ‘big announcement’ on November 15.
Biden was expected to watch the results from the White House, where the usually quiet corridors were filled with aides. Anticipating a tough evening, a Biden adviser said Democrats had done their best to blame Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, high gas prices and inflation.
The party that occupies the White House has always lost seats in midterm elections, but Democrats hoped that the Supreme Court’s June decision to strike down the nationwide right to abortion would help break that history.
But stubbornly high annual inflation, which stands at 8.2%, the highest rate in 40 years, has weighed on their prospects throughout the campaign.
“The economy is terrible. I blame the current administration for that,” said Bethany Hadelman, who said she voted for Republican candidates in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Fears of rising crime in left-leaning areas like New York, where incumbent Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul faces a tough challenge from Republican Lee Zeldin, were also a factor.
“We have criminals who continue to commit crimes. They go to jail and come out hours later or the next day,” said John DelSando, 35, a New York City paralegal who voted for Zeldin.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll This week 39% of Americans approve of the way Biden has done his job. Some Democratic candidates have deliberately distanced themselves from the White House as Biden’s popularity has waned.
Trump’s opinion polls are similarly low, with 41% of respondents to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll saying he is favorable.
In Congress, the Republican-controlled House could overrule Democratic priorities such as abortion rights and climate change, while the Republican Senate retains control over Biden’s judicial appointments, including Supreme Court vacancies.
Republicans could start a showdown over the nation’s debt ceiling, which could roil financial markets.
Republicans would gain the power to block aid to Ukraine if they regain control of Congress, but analysts say they are more likely to slow or even withdraw the flow of security and economic aid.
Reporting by Joseph Ochs, Jason Lange, Doina Chiaku, Susan Hevey, Gram Slattery and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington, Gabriella Porter in Birmingham, Michigan, Nathan Lane in Alpharetta, Georgia, Masha Svetkova in New York, Tim Reed and Barken Reed in Reno, Nevada; By Joseph Ochs and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone, Alistair Bell, Daniel Wallis and Howard Koller
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