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US midterm elections: Republicans optimistic of House of Representatives win

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The balance of power in Congress still hangs in the balance as vote counting continues following US midterms.

Democrats have put up stiff resistance in some key House of Representatives races, dampening early Republican hopes of a so-called “red wave”.

The BBC’s US partner CBS News says Republicans are still favoured to win the lower chamber of Congress.

But the battle for the Senate remains too close to call – Republicans need to win just one seat to take control.

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Though President Joe Biden, a Democrat, is not on the ballot, the midterms will shape the fate of his agenda.

Key Senate races in Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia are rated a toss-up.

Of votes being counted so far, CBS estimated Republicans were on course to win 198 seats in the House, and Democrats 180.

 

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Republicans were expected to hold on to governors’ mansions in the key states of Texas, Florida and Georgia.

Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Texas’s Greg Abbott are future possible Republican presidential contenders.

CBS projected Mr Abbott has consigned Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke to his third campaign defeat in the past four years.

The Democratic challenger in Georgia, Stacey Abrams, conceded the race to the Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

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Supporters react as Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams concedes to Brian KempIMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image caption,
Supporters react as Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams concedes to Brian Kemp

But in New York, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul was forecast to have fended off an unexpectedly stiff Republican challenge.

And the bitterly fought race for the governor’s mansion in Arizona – in which Republican Kari Lake had appeared to have the edge over Democrat Katie Hobbs – has been rated as leaning Democrat by CBS, based on incomplete results.

In the battle for the Senate, the potentially pivotal Senate race between left-wing Democrat John Fetterman and Trump-backed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz is also leaning Democrat. Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan meanwhile held on in New Hampshire.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio cruised to victory, and author JD Vance kept an open Senate seat for the Republicans in Ohio.

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A handful of trailblazers emerged in other projections:

  • In Maryland, Democrat Wes Moore is set to become the third African American ever elected as governor
  • In Florida, 25-year-old Democrat Maxwell Frost is on course to become the first Gen Z member of Congress
  • Markwayne Mullin, an Oklahoma Republican and member of the Cherokee nation, is poised to become the fourth Native American ever elected to the US Senate
  • The US is set for its first openly lesbian woman elected as governor, with Democrat Maura Healey to become the top official in Massachusetts
  • Maryland became the 20th state to legalise recreational marijuana, with similar ballot measures put to the vote on Tuesday in Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota

Exit polls have suggested the main issues for voters were inflation and abortion.

Some 32% of voters cited rising prices as most important, while 27% rated abortion as their priority, according to the Edison research data.

All 435 seats in the House and a third of the Senate were up for grabs.

Republicans had been widely expected to pick up the five seats they need to win the House.

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Which party holds sway in the Senate may not be known for days, or weeks if Georgia goes down to a run-off vote.

Despite leveraging wafer-thin congressional majorities to lower prescription drug prices, expand clean energy and revamp US infrastructure, Mr Biden’s popularity has taken a pummelling amid the worst inflation in four decades.

But Republicans have their own political vulnerability on the issue of abortion following the conservative-dominated Supreme Court’s decision this year to roll back a US constitutional right to the procedure.

The ruling energised liberal voters around the country, raising Democratic hopes they might defy the historical political gravity that typically weighs on a governing party in the midterms.

Vermont became the first state to enshrine abortion rights in its state constitution on Tuesday, preventing any future bid by the legislature to introduce restrictions.

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Voters in California and Michigan put similar measures to the vote on Tuesday, while Kentucky was deciding whether to rule out protections for abortion.

According to exit polls by the BBC’s US partner CBS News, abortion was the top issue for Democratic voters, while Republicans and independents rated inflation as their top issue.

 

No major glitches were reported with voting on Tuesday beyond a few isolated problems typical of any election day.

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Former President Donald Trump seized on the hiccups in a bid to cast doubt on the integrity of the vote.

This election is also widely expected to serve as a launchpad for a 2024 White House comeback bid by Mr Trump, who is promising an announcement on 15 November.

Asked on conservative network NewsNation about the midterm results, Mr Trump said: “Well, I think if they [Republicans] win, I should get all the credit. If they lose, I should not be blamed at all.”

Mr Biden – who was watching election night returns with aides at the White House – has argued that a Republican victory could weaken democracy.

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Key state officials who have echoed Mr Trump’s false claims of a stolen presidential election in 2020 are on the ballot on Tuesday, and they could supervise how future elections are run.

Early voting allowed more than 46 million Americans across the country to cast their ballots before election day.

An FBI official said no violence or threats of violence or voter intimidation had been reported by Monday evening.

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