As of Wednesday afternoon, November 9, the results of the US Midterm election are uncertain, many very close races are not yet decided, and as many states accept mail-in ballots until the end of the week, it will take more than a week for all votes to be counted.
However, it now appears highly likely that the Republicans will gain control of the US House of Representatives, but only by a razor-thin margin. The most likely (but far from certain) outcome in the Senate is that the majority will be decided by a run-off election on December 6 in the single state of Georgia, with the Democrats slightly favored.
In spite of the uncertain outcome, we can already draw some solid conclusions:
- Although voters indicated inflation and the economy were their primary concern, Democrats led by Joe Biden defied expectations, resisted much better against the normal major loss for a Presidential Party during a Midterm election, with a strong showing among independent voters. Republican results will be the worst for the president’s opposing party in 20 years. Biden, and the Democrats, can be happy with this result, particularly if they keep control of the Senate.
- Actively denying the results of the 2020 election appears to have been a liability, with many Trump-backed candidates having lost, suggesting voters heeded Biden’s warning that “US democracy was at risk” in this election. This result is clearly a defeat for Trump. What will be his reaction? Will it weaken his hold on the Republican Party? Will defeated Republicans accept their loss? And we should not ignore that 210 Republican election deniers won election in federal and state elections.
- Republicans will be happy that they will control the House, even if by a thin margin. Interestingly, just as the Democrats’ razor-thin majority in the Senate gave excessive power to a few Senators (Manchin, Sinema), so the likely thin margin in the Republican controlled House will make life difficult for probable new House majority leader McCarthy, who will have to deal with extreme elements in his party.
- Several high-profile Republican governors solidly won re-election (DeSantis, Abbott, Kemp), signaling potential rivals to Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination for President
- A number of ballot initiatives protecting the right to abortion were adopted, confirming this issue was more important than polls had shown.
- US voters are increasingly inclined to vote totally along party lines. However, in this election, probably due to non-aligned voters, many split their votes, for example voting for a Republican senator and Democratic governor, judging candidates on their individual attributes.
As we wait for the final results, probably available only in December, we continue to observe that the US is a divided country, with two distant, opposing blocks, each finding some satisfying result in this election, but each still stuck in its narrow political domain.