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US midterm election results remain inconclusive

10 mins read

The US midterm elections were held on November 8, with millions of Americans flocking to the polls to state their preference, but the results remain inconclusive and control of Congress still remains unknown.

Most of the projections were announced overnight, with some running into the following day, but as of November 11, many state results are unidentified as vote counting is dragged out. 

Which party controls either the House of Representatives or the Senate is still uncertain, but what we do know is that it is a very close race – only a handful of seats could end up deciding the fate of President Biden’s agenda over the next two years.  

Three days after the election, the results are as follows.

Senate Races 

Both Democrats and Republicans currently have 48 seats each.  

Four seats are still undecided in the race, with two states still counting ballots, and two going into state run-off elections. 

In Alaska, neither Kelly Tshibaka nor incumbent Lisa Murkowski, both Republican candidates, had enough votes to conclusively win the contest.  

With the candidates nearly tied at just under 45% of the vote each, a ranked-choice run-off is all but certain to determine whether the moderate Murkowski or the Trump-backed Tshibaka will represent Alaska in the Senate. 

In Georgia, the race between incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican candidate Herschel Walker has gone to a run-off election being held on December 6.  

Neither reached the 50% threshold and therefore we won’t have conclusive results in that race for four more weeks.  

In crucial swing states Arizona and Nevada, races are still too early to call.

Democrats currently hold the lead in Arizona by about 6%, and Republicans lead in Nevada by about 2%.  

However, both of these races are expected to tighten significantly as outstanding votes continue to come in.  

One marquee race has already been decided in favour of the Democrats.

In swing state Pennsylvania, Democratic candidate John Fetterman defeated Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, winning more than 51% of the votes and flipping the seat from red to blue.  

This race was expected to be one of the closest in the country, but a strong performance by Fetterman meant the race was called within a few hours. 

51 seats are required for a party to gain a majority in the Senate.

However, Democrats only need 50 seats for a majority as they have the tie-breaking vote, Vice President Kamala Harris, to push them over the threshold for control of the chamber.  

As of now, Democrats seem poised to retain control of the Senate, though they may be in for late surprises as votes continue to trickle in from some slow-reporting counties. 

President Joe Biden delivering a speech ahead of the midterm elections. Credit: The White House via Twitter

House Races 

In the House of Representatives, Democrats currently have 204 seats, whereas Republicans lead with 211.  

218 seats are needed in the House of Representatives to win a majority with all 435 seats up for re-election; therefore 23 seats are still undecided. 

From the seats already projected, 15 have flipped from Democrat to Republican, whereas only seven have flipped from Republican to Democrat. 

One surprise from the House races comes from Colorado’s third district: Lauren Boebert, the incumbent and a far-right Trump ally, is locked in an extremely tight race with Democrat Adam Frisch.  

As of November 11, Boebert leads by just under 1,000 votes, but many ballots from Democratic-leaning areas remain to be counted.  

Frisch was given only a 3% chance of winning this race before the election by pollster FiveThirtyEight—and even if Boebert escapes with a win, the race will have been much closer than expected in a district that elected her by about 6% in 2020. 

Polls have continually suggested that Republicans will take control of the House, and it looks very likely at this point.  

However, like with the Senate races, Democrats exceeded the expectations of pollsters and Republicans failed to capture the majority that was predicted – their control of the chamber may ultimately be by a margin of just a few seats.  

Governor’s Races 

Democrats now have 22 elected Governors, with Republicans now leading with 24. 

36 seats were open in this election cycle, with four more still to be decided. 

Alaska, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon have yet to come to a conclusion, but only Oregon is leaning Democrat at this stage of the race, whereas the other three are leaning Republican. 

 However, the Democrats have gained two governorships from Republicans in this Midterm election, one in Massachusetts, and the other in Maryland. 

Governors are focused on their state and therefore do not play a part in the control of Congress, but they play an important role in the politics of the said state and country, which can have a knock-on effect on the entire political landscape. 

Ballot Measures 

A few of the states also included ballot measures on election day, allowing the voters to decide on crucial issues that will directly affect them. 

Abortion

California, Vermont, Kentucky, Michigan and Montana all included abortion measures on their ballot, with all five states retaining the right to have one.  

Even deeply Republican states have passed ballot measures supporting abortion in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Kentucky, for example, supported Trump by 26% in 2020 and still voted to uphold abortion protections. 

Voting and Elections

Five states had measures regarding future elections and voting. 

For example, Connecticut now has the authority to offer early in-person voting, and Michigan voted in favour of expanding voting access. 

Firearms

Iowa voted to retain the right to keep and bear firearms, whereas the vote for increasing gun ownership requirements in Oregon hasn’t reached an outcome. 

Drug Legalization

Maryland and Missouri both voted to legalise marijuana, making them the 20th and 21st states to do so.  

In contrast, Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota all voted against legalising the recreational use of marijuana.  

Colorado voted to become the second state to legalize the possession and use of psychedelic mushrooms.  

Minimum Wage 

Nevada voted to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by July 1, 2024. 

Sports Betting

California voted against legalising sports betting in-person and online. 

Summary 

Despite early momentum by Democrats in the midterm races shortly after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many pollsters predicted a “red wave” election of Republicans this year due to Joe Biden’s unpopularity and economic concerns. 

 Additionally, history shows that the sitting president’s party tends to lose control of Congress during the midterms.  

However, polls slightly underestimated Democrats in this election, leading to a disappointing outcome for Republicans. 

While Democrats have still likely lost the House, voters delivered a sharp rebuke of Donald Trump’s and the Republicans’ agenda, giving Democrats the momentum they need to carry on with their priorities in the wake of Roe v. Wade and rapid inflation.  

Re-elected Republican Governor Ron DeSantis giving a speech. Credit: Ron Desantis via Twitter

One lone bright spot for Republicans came in the battleground state of Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis cruised to victory against his Democratic challenger Charlie Crist.  

Ron DeSantis is widely considered to be a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, so his win likely sets up a fierce battle between him and former president Trump for control of the party. 

While control is still unknown for both chambers of Congress, it’s not farfetched to predict the House will go to Republicans and the Senate to Democrats.

Due to the run-offs and delay in vote counting, the conclusive result is unlikely to appear before December 6, leaving the country on edge about its future over the next two years and the control of Congress unknown.

Featured Image: NBC News via Twitter

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Samuel Metcalf
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