Key takeaways – so far – from the US midterm elections

Voters cast ballots to decide makeup of US legislature, state and local officials, with results still rolling in.

Senator-elect Katie Britt
Senator-elect Katie Britt cheers her supporters following her victory speech at her election night watch party after Alabama voted in the midterm election [Vasha Hunt/The Associated Press]

Hours after polls closed in the US midterms elections, the outcome of consequential segments of Tuesday’s vote, including which party will control the House of Representatives and Senate, were far from clear.

What was clear early on Wednesday was that an expected “red wave” predicted by Republicans did not materialise.

Instead, control of both chambers remains in the balance. Republicans are inching ahead of Democrats toward the threshold of 218 seats that they need to lead the House. But with races in key states undecided, the leadership of the Senate may remain uncertain for weeks, as some candidates head for run-off elections.

Democrats’ hopes were buoyed by the victory of John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, who defeated Republican challenger Mehmet Oz in the only Senate race so far to flip a seat.

Meanwhile, top House Republican Kevin McCarthy declared it was “clear” his party would take control of the House, despite the outcome remaining unclear.

A man gets his ballot to vote on election day at a polling location at the Old Stone School in Hillsboro, Virginia.
The US midterm elections are held every four years at the midpoint of each presidential term [File: Michael Reynolds/EPA]

Here are key takeaways so far:

  • Following Fetterman’s victory in Pennsylvania, all eyes have moved to Nevada, Arizona and Georgia, where Democrats are in the closest Senate races with Republicans.
  • President Joe Biden’s party would need to win two out of three seats in question in those states to maintain control of the chamber.
  • In Georgia, neither Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock or Republican Challenger Herschel Walker broke the 50 percent threshold needed to win outright.
  • The challengers are for a December 6 run-off race, meaning it will be weeks until control of the chamber is decided.
  • When it comes to House races, Democrats have so far fared better than expected against Trump-backed opponents.
  • That was particularly clear in Michigan, where Hillary Scholten, an immigration lawyer, beat her Republican challenger John Gibbs. In the primary, Gibbs had defeated Republican Congressman Peter Meijer, one of a handful of Republicans who had voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.

  • Democratic incumbent governors have so-far fared well in states where Republican-controlled legislatures have sought to pass restrictions on voting in the wake of Trump’s unfounded claims of fraud following his 2020 presidential loss. Democrats in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan all survived Republican challenges.
  • Michigan on Tuesday also voted in favour of abortion protections in its state constitution, a possible indicator of sentiment in other swing states where reproductive rights are under threat in the wake of the repeal of Roe v Wade. Vermont and California also shored up state constitutional protections for abortion rights. Meanwhile, Kentucky voters rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have denied any right to abortion access or funding, in a victory for pro-abortion rights advocates. Kentucky, however, continues to have a near total ban on abortion, enacted earlier this year by state lawmakers.
  • Incumbent Republicans governors in Texas, Georgia and Florida, meanwhile, weathered challenges from several Democrats with national profiles.
  • Maryland and Missouri also became the latest US states to legalise recreational marijuana after voters on Tuesday backed the measure, with similar measures failing in North Dakota and Arkansas.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies