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‘An underwhelming finish:’ US midterm elections hand Republicans a sullied victory

Members of an adjudication board review ballots at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Arizona, the US, on November 09, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Incomplete results from midterm elections in the United States show that the Republican Party is ahead in both the Senate and the House of Representatives but has performed far more poorly than it had been expected to.

Following the election, and according to the results so far, 49 seats at the Senate are now held by Republicans, compared to 48 by Democrats. And 207 US representatives are Republican, compared to 189 who are Democratic.

As such, Republicans are certain to gain the majority at the House of Representatives, even as vote counting continues.

But the race for the majority in the Senate is yet undecided. Votes for Nevada and Arizona are still being counted and a tight race in Georgia has officially headed for a December 6 runoff. The Georgia runoff could mean that control of the upper chamber might not be decided for weeks.

‘An underwhelming finish’

The Republicans were forced to celebrate a much smaller victory than they had anticipated. Even though they appear to have secured the majority at the House and may do so at the Senate as well, Republicans failed to deliver on a big “red wave” that was supposed to sweep the country with a base roused by former President Donald Trump. The New York Times called that performance an “underwhelming finish.”

The Democrats were pleasantly surprised. President Joe Biden, the fate of whose presidency is at serious risk because of the Republican victory, celebrated the results nevertheless. “It was a good day for democracy and I think a good day for America,” Biden said, even though the Republicans’ narrow margin in the House could upend his legislative agenda.

US President Joe Biden smiles as he wrings up a post-election press conference a day after the US midterm elections, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, the US, on November 9, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The potential control of the Senate, meanwhile, would give Republicans the power to block Biden’s nominees for judicial and administrative posts.

“Our democracy has been tested in recent years, but with their votes, the American people have spoken and proven once again that democracy is who we are,” Biden said. “While the press and the pundits are predicting a giant red wave, it didn’t happen.”

“While any seat lost is painful… Democrats had a strong night. And we lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than any Democratic president’s first midterm election in the last 40 years. We had the best midterm for governors since 1986,” Biden said.

‘A huge loss for Trump’

The narrow Republican victory was also soured when conservatives, dismayed by many missed opportunities, began to publicly attack Trump for his “toxic” leadership of the party, including on Fox News, the former president’s favorite television network and the one mostly associated with his vision of the Republican Party.

“Republicans have followed Donald Trump off the side of a cliff,” David Urban, a longtime Trump adviser, said. And Peter King, a former Republican representative who has long supported Trump, said, “I strongly believe he should no longer be the face of the Republican Party.”

Chris Christie, a former governor of New Jersey, told ABC, “Almost every one of these Trump-endorsed candidates that you see in competitive states has lost. It’s a huge loss for Trump.”

Some even called for him to hold off plans to run a third presidential campaign in 2024.

The Republican performance may have been one of the weakest by an out-of-power party against a first-term president’s in decades.

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