Election thriller in the USA – outcome of the “midterms” still open

From BZ/dpa

For US President Biden, the midterm elections will decide how much he can still achieve. Polls had predicted a so-called red wave for Republicans. But it could be that the Democrats hold their ground much better than expected.

In the midterm elections in the USA, after the polling stations in numerous states were closed, it is still unclear which party will have the say in the US Congress in the future. A recently predicted overwhelming victory for the Republicans was not in evidence until late Tuesday evening (local time).

In the US state of Florida, however, Republican Ron DeSantis has already achieved great success for himself and his party: The 44-year-old was convincingly re-elected governor of the state in the south-east of the country. Within the party, DeSantis is considered the biggest rival of ex-President Donald Trump.

The “midterms” in the middle of President Joe Biden’s four-year term will see all 435 seats in the House of Representatives up for grabs and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate, the second chamber of the US House of Representatives. Republicans would need to gain a net Senate seat and five House seats to have a majority in both houses. In the House of Representatives, Republicans have a much better chance of reversing their current 212-220 deficit. Numerous governorships and other important offices in the states are also voted on in the elections.

Many important votes – for example in the Senate – were still open late in the evening. It was expected that the counting would take longer. Polls had predicted a so-called red wave and thus a clear victory for the Republicans. “It’s definitely not a wave. But I think it’s going to be a very good night,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on US television.

For example, US President Biden’s Democrats defended two hard-fought seats in the state of Virginia in the House of Representatives. The two incumbents, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton, were re-elected. Observers saw this as a key indicator of Republican performance. According to US broadcasters, for example, they did not succeed in winning important Senate races such as in New Hampshire.

But it was already clear that the Republicans did well, especially in Florida. There Governor DeSantis was clearly re-elected. Ex-President Trump threatened DeSantis on Tuesday if he entered the race for the White House in 2024. He could say “things that aren’t particularly flattering” about DeSantis, he said on US television. Trump had announced a “very big announcement” for November 15 on Monday. It can be assumed that he wants to announce his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election, which has long been hinted at.

DeSantis is said to also want to run for the Republicans as a candidate. The clear victory in Florida should give him momentum. In 2018 he only won the governor’s race there by a narrow margin. Florida is considered a so-called “swing state” in which voters sometimes prefer the Republicans and sometimes the Democrats.

Trump’s influence on Republicans continues unabated. Candidates supported by Trump won in several US states. The Republican best-selling author JD Vance was elected to the US Senate for the US state of Ohio. A few years ago, Vance was critical of ex-President Donald Trump – but then he did a U-turn.

In the US state of Arkansas, a former spokeswoman for the Trump White House, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, will become the new governor. The Republican is a loyal supporter of the ex-president. As expected, Republican Greg Abbott once again won the Texas gubernatorial election. But the Democrats also made gains. In Massachusetts and Maryland they have recaptured governorships from Republicans. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Josh Shapiro prevailed against ardent Trump supporter Doug Mastriano. The position of the governor of a federal state is roughly comparable to that of a prime minister in Germany.

In the midterm elections, the president’s party usually gets a reminder. In domestic politics, Biden had recently been very concerned about the high inflation in the country – rising fuel prices also caused dissatisfaction among the population. In a post-election poll, around a third of respondents named inflation as the most important issue in voting. In second place with 27 percent, people gave the topic of abortion.

Should Republicans take control of Congress, the second half of Biden’s tenure is likely to be marked by deadlocks and partisan infighting. Should the Republicans win one or both chambers of Congress, Biden will probably not be able to push through any major legislative initiatives after January. In addition, he and his government could face parliamentary investigations up to and including impeachment proceedings.