With the balance of power in the US House of Representatives still unresolved on Sunday, Democrats celebrate the projection that they have taken control of the Senate, marking a significant victory for Joe Biden as Republicans backed by his presidential predecessor Donald Trump have underperformed in key battleground states. .
As senior Democrats remained cautious on Sunday about the chances of keeping control of both houses of Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed the party’s midterm performance after months of projections pointing to heavy losses.
“Who would have thought two months ago that this red wave would turn into a tiny trickle, if at all,” Pelosi told CNN.
She added: “We are still alive [for control of the House] but again the races are tight. We are not praying for victory… but you are praying for God’s will to be done.
As of Sunday morning, Republicans remained seven seats short of the 218 needed to take control of the House, with Democrats demanding 14, an indication that the majority on either side will be slim. As internal discussions among House Republicans escalate over potential leadership roles, with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy facing opposition from the far-right Liberty Caucus, Pelosi has remained wary of her own future, saying she would not make any announcements about her plans until House control is decided.
“My decision will then be rooted in what the wishes of my family [are]and the wishes of my caucus,” Pelosi said, referring to her husband Paul Pelosi’s ongoing recovery from a violent burglary and allegedly politically motivated attack at their family home in San Francisco on last month. She added: “There are all kinds of ways to exert influence. The speaker has awesome power, but I will always have influence.
Democrats were expected to maintain control of the Senate on Saturday night when a close race in Nevada was called for incumbent Catherine Cortez Mastro who beat Adam Laxalt, a former Trump-backed attorney general.
The result marks a substantial victory for the Biden administration’s agenda over the next two years, not just in potential legislative negotiations, but other powers, including federal judicial appointments.
Speaking to reporters in Cambodia at the ASEAN summit, Biden praised Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, but seemed to acknowledge how a Republican-controlled House could affect his agenda going forward.
“We feel good where we are,” Biden said. “And I know I’ve been an arrogant optimist – I understand that – from the start, but I’m not surprised by the turnout.”
Biden added that the party will focus on the Senate runoff in Georgia next month, where incumbent Raphael Warnock will face Trump-endorsed Herschel Walker after no candidate received more than 50% of the vote. A victory for Democrats in Georgia would give them an outright majority of 51, without needing Biden’s Vice President Kamala Harris to sever Senate ties in their favor.
As the fallout from the midterm elections continues, attention is expected to turn to Florida next week, where Trump is expected to announce a 2024 presidential bid at his private club in Palm Beach.
Although polls still point to Trump as the Republican base’s preferred candidate, his support has shown signs of fracturing after many of his endorsed candidates performed poorly last week. A poll released on Saturday showed Trump’s support down six points to 50%, while far-right Governor Ron DeSantis, who won re-election last week, saw his support rise.
On Sunday, Maryland’s incumbent Republican governor – longtime Trump critic Larry Hogan – urged the party to move away from the former president’s influence.
“You know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome,” Hogan told CNN. “And Donald Trump kept saying, ‘We’re going to win so much, we’re going to get tired of winning.’ I’m sick of losing. That’s all he did.
Nonetheless, Hogan – who himself was planning to run in 2024 – acknowledged that ousting Trump from the potential presidential nomination would be an uphill battle.
“He’s still the 800-pound gorilla,” Hogan said. “It’s still a battle and it will continue for the next few years. We are still two years away from the next election, and… the dust is still settling from this one. I think that would be a mistake because I mentioned Trump cost us the last three elections and I don’t want that to happen a fourth time.
The midterms also proved to be a campaign rebuke to baseless accusations of voter fraud in the 2020 election, a baseless claim Trump has continued to make since losing the White House to Biden.
Many Trump-endorsed candidates in major races, including the gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania and the Senate race in Arizona, had denied the 2020 election results. In those two contests, as well as in several other top races level, the Trump-backed nominee lost to the Democrats by significant margins.
Although the gubernatorial election in Arizona, which pits high-profile Holocaust denier Kari Lake against Democrat Katie Hobbs, remained too close to be called on Sunday, a number of Democratic gubernatorial winners have argued that their victories marked a rejection of electoral conspiracy theories and right-wing extremism.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who won a landslide victory over a Trump-endorsed Holocaust denier, said Sunday she believed her victory marked a rejection of political violence in the state.
“The right people need to call this out and say we won’t tolerate this in this country,” Whitmer, who was the target of a failed kidnapping plot in 2020, told CNN. “And maybe some of that message was sent to this election.”
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