Republican wave fails to materialise as US midterm results roll in

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Democrats put up an unexpectedly strong fight as results rolled in from US midterm elections that will decide which party controls Congress, even as Republicans led by governor Ron DeSantis notched up a string of convincing victories in Florida.

The early tallies from the midterm elections on Tuesday showed many battleground races across the country were too close to call, with control of the Senate remaining in the balance and Republicans struggling to secure widespread victories in swing districts in the House of Representatives early on in the night.

“It’s not a wave for sure,” said Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, referring to the “red wave” that many pollsters had predicted heading into election day. However, Graham said his party was still on course for a “very good night” and predicted it would win a majority in the lower chamber of Congress.

The best early result for Republicans was in Florida, where DeSantis, seen as a probable contender for his party’s presidential nomination in 2024, was quickly projected to win re-election along with senator Marco Rubio.

“I look forward to the road ahead,” DeSantis said. “We have accomplished more than anybody thought possible four years ago. But we have got so much more to do, and I have only begun to fight.”

However, despite the strong showing in Florida — which had until recently been seen as a swing state — the results were more mixed in other battleground contests. Pivotal Senate races in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada remained exceedingly tight, with highly uncertain outcomes.

Democrats held on to several bellwether House districts on the east coast where their candidates were seen as vulnerable, with victories for Abigail Spanberger in Virginia and Seth Magaziner in Rhode Island.

Meanwhile New York governor Kathy Hochul declared victory after apparently holding off Republican challenger Lee Zeldin. The result will bring Democrats some relief after polls showed Zeldin closing a yawning gap in recent weeks with a relentless focus on crime.

Republicans only need a net gain of five seats to win a majority in the House and still have the edge in the lower chamber but they may assume control with a smaller margin than they hoped.

The White House, which had been bracing for heavy losses in the House, said that president Joe Biden had started to call Democrats including Spanberger and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer to congratulate them on winning their races.

Even a small majority in the House for the Republicans threatens to stymie the next two years of Biden’s presidency. Republican leaders have already suggested they will use the debt ceiling as leverage to push through their own policy priorities, such as cuts to federal spending.

They have also indicated they will disband Democrat-led investigations, including the special committee probing Donald Trump’s role in the January 6 2021 attack on the US Capitol, and launch their own inquests into everything from the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic to the business dealings of Hunter Biden, the president’s son.

Republicans notched a number of high-profile wins outside of Florida too, with Greg Abbott, the Texas governor, winning re-election, and JD Vance, the former venture capitalist and author backed by Trump, winning his race for Senate in Ohio.

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