Republicans have regained control of the House of Representatives by winning a midterm election victory that many expected would be a red wave of victories, but instead turned into a trickle.
Nevertheless, the party eventually won its crucial 218th seat in the lower chamber of Congress, wresting control from the Democrats and paving the way for a showdown with Joe Biden over the next two years of his presidency.
The result marks the end of Democrat Nancy Pelosi’s venerable time as speaker of the House and will likely pass the gavel to Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who has announced his intent to assume the post.
Control of the House is crucial as it will allow Republicans to launch a series of congressional investigations ranging from Biden’s failed withdrawal from Afghanistan to more clearly politicized investigations into government action during the coronavirus pandemic and Biden’s son’s business activities. Hunter.
The Republican-led House is likely to be a raucous affair, as the predicted slim majority means it will only take a few rebels to thwart legislation – effectively devolving great power to nearly every member. With the Republican right full of fringe figures, such as Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, that could be a recipe for chaos and the promotion of extremist beliefs and policies.
Biden and his party had gone into Election Day expecting to receive a beating from an electorate angry at the high inflation that has caused misery for millions of Americans struggling with bills and rising prices. Republicans had doubled that by running campaigns that fueled fears of violent crime and portrayed Democrats as far-left politicians out of touch with voters’ concerns.
But Democrats fought back, pointing out the extremist nature of many Republican politicians, especially a cadre of far-right figures backed by Donald Trump, and warning of the threat to American democracy they represented. They were also boosted by the ongoing backlash from the loss of federal abortion rights, taken away by a conservative-dominated Supreme Court.
The result was a shock: Democrats held their own in much of the country, and while Republicans won in some parts—such as Florida—their candidates were defeated in many others. Renowned Trump-backed candidates such as Pennsylvania’s Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano lost their races.
Meanwhile, Republican performance in the Senate was worse. Democrats maintained control of the upper chamber as their incumbent senator was projected the winner in Nevada the Saturday after election night. The remaining seat up for grabs, in Georgia, will be decided in early December in a runoff election between incumbent Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker, after neither has garnered 50% of the vote.
If Warnock wins, Democrats will enjoy a one-seat majority, 51-50, in the 100-seat Senate, a small but significant improvement on the current 50-50 balance that will continue if Walker wins, with Kamala Harris as a tie. breaker for the Democrats in the traditional role of the vice president as president of the senate.