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Five takeaways from the US midterms

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Republican Kevin McCarthy of California is likely to be the next speaker of the US House of Representatives, with projections showing his party with a smaller-than-expected lead./AFP
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Nov 10, 2022 - 02:47 AM

WASHINGTON — As US election officials continue to count ballots across the country, partial results showed that Democrats avoided their worst fears, while Republicans hold out hope that they will retake both chambers of Congress.

With multiple critical races still yet to be called, here are some key midterm takeaways:

No Republican ‘red wave’ 

The president’s party usually loses seats in midterm elections, and with Joe Biden’s ratings stuck in the low 40s while inflation and crime are up, pundits had predicted a drubbing for his Democrats.

In the House of Representatives, early results suggested Republicans were on track for a majority — but only by a handful of seats, a far cry from their predictions.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a top Trump ally, conceded to NBC that the election is “definitely not a Republican wave, that’s for darn sure.”

At 2000 GMT Wednesday, NBC News projected that Republicans will possibly win 222 seats, giving them only a thin 4-seat majority.

Senate undecided 

Control of the 100-seat Senate — currently evenly divided — hinged on three key races still on a knife-edge.

Democrats need two more wins to successfully hold the chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote, while Republicans need all three to flip it.

In Arizona and Nevada, counting the remaining votes could take days. Georgia will go to a runoff scheduled for December 6.

Democrats had hoped to pick up seats in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but were only successful in the latter, with hoodie-wearing John Fetterman, who had a stroke during the campaign, defeating Trump-endorsed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz.

Glitches fuel disinformation 

Biden has warned that Republicans pose a dire threat to democracy, calling out their growing embrace of voter conspiracy theories boosted by Donald Trump.

In swing-state Arizona, Trump and his chosen candidate for governor, Kari Lake, alleged irregularities after problems with voting machines in Maricopa county, the state’s most populous.

Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said Wednesday that around seven percent of in-person votes were affected, but that every one of them would count.

“With regard to comments like ‘criminal’ or ‘rigged,’ there’s absolutely no basis for that statement,” he said.

Candidates eyeing 2024 

One of the Tuesday’s most decisive wins was for rising Republican star Ron DeSantis, who won the gubernatorial race overwhelmingly in Florida, cementing his status as a top potential White House candidate in 2024.

An editorial published in conservative-leaning Fox News called 44-year-old DeSantis “the new Republican Party leader,” while the front page of the New York Post dubbed him “DeFuture.”

Trump meanwhile has teased an “exciting” announcement on November 15, though some Republicans are pointing the finger at him for the party’s underwhelming performance.

The 76-year-old brushed off the criticism, saying on Truth Social “from my personal standpoint,” the election “was a very big victory.”

On the Democratic side, Governor Gretchen Whitmer won her reelection bid in Michigan, a key presidential swing state.

Multiple candidates who ran in the 2020 Democratic primary, including now-Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar, made campaign appearances in key races — fueling speculation they are eyeing another run if Biden decides to sit out.

Growing diversity 

Maura Healey will make history as the first openly lesbian governor in the United States, with the Democrat easily winning her race in the New England state of Massachusetts.

In neighboring New Hampshire, James Roesener became the first openly transgender man elected to a state legislature, joining multiple trans women already in office.

The mid-Atlantic state of Maryland elected its first Black governor, Wes Moore, whose rising profile has some in the US political class commenting on a potential national run.

And 25-year-old Maxwell Frost was elected in Florida, becoming the first member of the US House from the so-called “Generation Z.”

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