The expected surge in Republican support for Donald Trump has yet to materialize, with many votes still not counted.
His party had been expected to gain majority control of Congress, making it difficult for the president Joe Biden Governance, but elections are about balance.
Republicans should have the five victories they need to take majority control of the House, but Democrats’ fears of being eliminated have been avoided.
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Pre-election polls showed 30 to 35 seats changing hands, leading some commentators to consider the possibility of a “wave” of elections if Democrats lost more than 40 seats. The average over the past century is for the president’s party to lose 28 seats in the midterms, and Democrats are likely to avoid even that outcome.
Republican turnout has risen from the presidential election two years ago, but has since fluctuated by only 2 or 3 percent, which would limit the party’s ability to flip seats in Democratic-dominated states like New York and California .
NBC’s original seat forecast put Republicans in the 219 House seats by a margin of plus or minus 13. This points to a typical midterm election. Fears that Biden’s poor personal approval ratings, the worst of a modern president, would drag his party down seem unfounded.
The current 50-50 Senate battle is likely to continue for some time. Republicans need to take control alone, and that’s perfectly doable if there’s a substantial electorate behind their cause. New Hampshire is seen as a potentially unbalanced Senate seat, but Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan is expected to remain in office.
In Georgia, the 2020 Senate race is a last-ditch decision, but there’s another tight end. Incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican rival Herschel Walker are evenly matched, but crucially neither will win 50 percent of the vote, meaning A runoff is a real prospect.
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That brings up three more Senate seats, which will be crucial to the success or failure of the GOP’s effort to control both chambers of Congress.
In Arizona, Republicans want to oust Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly, but current vote counts show him with a sizable lead. The two remaining Senate seats, Nevada and Pennsylvania, could flip in opposite directions, meaning no impact on Senate control.
With nine out of 10 votes in the Republican-controlled Democratic challenger Pennsylvania, John Feltman has a narrow lead but is expected to gain the seat. That raises the bar for Republicans, meaning not a single gain, but two, is needed now.
That makes Nevada’s GOP ambitions particularly important. Catherine Cortez-Masto became the state’s first woman elected to the Senate in 2016. She defended a small majority of less than 30,000 votes and was vulnerable to a small swing from her Republican opponent, Adam Laxalt. If he succeeds, the Georgia state game will be huge.
Regardless of the outcome in the Senate, the overall impression is that a Republican victory was far from a victory. Donald Trump may still announce his intention to run for president in 2024, but Democrats see the performance as almost a victory given the White House incumbent’s efforts to connect with voters.