Source: AP – Control of Congress hung in the balance early Wednesday as Democrats showed surprising strength, defeating Republicans in a series of competitive races and defying expectations that high inflation and President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings would drag the party down.
In the most heartening news for the party, Democrat John Fetterman flipped a Republican-controlled Senate seat that is key to the party’s hopes of maintaining control of the chamber.
It was too early to call critical Senate seats in Wisconsin, Nevada, Georgia and Arizona that could determine the majority. In the House, meanwhile, Democrats kept seats in districts from Virginia to Kansas and Rhode Island, while many districts in states like New York and California had not been called.
Democrats also were successful in governors’ races, winning in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — battlegrounds critical to Biden’s 2020 win over former President Donald Trump. But Republicans held on to governors’ mansions in Florida, Texas and Georgia, another battleground state Biden narrowly won two years ago.
With votes still being counted across the country, Republicans still had the opportunity to win control of Congress. But the results were uplifting for Democrats who were braced for sweeping losses and raised questions about the size of Republicans’ governing majority if they win the House.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican poised to be House speaker if the GOP takes control of the chamber, was optimistic the GOP would take control, telling supporters, “When you wake up tomorrow, we will be in the majority.” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “While many races remain too close to call, it is clear that House Democratic Members and candidates are strongly outperforming expectations across the country.”
The outcome of races for House and Senate will determine the future of Biden’s agenda and serve as a referendum on his administration as the nation reels from record-high inflation and concerns over the direction of the country. Republican control of the House would likely trigger a round of investigations into Biden and his family, while a GOP Senate takeover would hobble Biden’s ability to make judicial appointments.
Democrats were facing historic headwinds. The party in power almost always suffers losses in the president’s first midterm elections, but Democrats had been hoping that anger from the Supreme Court’s decision to gut abortion rights might energise their voters to buck historical trends.