US President Joe Biden has claimed vindication the day after the US midterm elections, saying Democrats had “a strong night” and he planned to change nothing about his approach despite facing the likelihood of divided government in the nation’s capital.
He brushed off concerns that Republicans, who are on track to take control of the House of Representatives, will investigate his administration and family in what could swiftly become a bruising stretch of his presidency. “I think the American people will look at all that for what it is, almost comedy,” the president said.
While the Republicans are edging closer to taking Congress, either party could still win the Senate, which hinges on three races that are too close to call. Normally the party in power suffers losses during the president’s first midterm elections, but an expected “red wave” has not materialised.
US Midterm elections live
Welcome to the live blog
Good morning and welcome to NationalWorld’s US Midterms live blog. We’ll bring you the latest news, analysis and results as they come in from across the pond.
Candidates and big-name backers made final appeals to voters in the last hours of a fraught midterm election season.
Republicans were excited about the prospect of winning back Congress while President Joe Biden insisted his party would “surprise the living devil out of a lot of people”.
Democrats contend Republican victories could profoundly and adversely reshape the country, eliminating abortion rights nationwide and unleashing broad threats to the very future of American democracy.
Republicans say the public is tired of Biden’s policies amid high inflation and concerns about crime.
“We know in our bones that our democracy is at risk,” Biden said during an evening rally in Maryland, where Democrats have one of their best opportunities to reclaim a Republican-held governor’s seat. “I want you to know, we’ll meet this moment.”
Arriving back at the White House a short time later, Mr Biden was franker, saying: “I think we’ll win the Senate. I think the House is tougher.”
Asked what the reality of governing will be like, he responded: ”More difficult.”
What are the US midterm elections?
The Midterms are elections held in the US two years after a presidential election takes place and two years before the next presidential vote is due to take place, my colleague Heather Carrick reports.
The entire of the House of Representatives is on the ballot paper, as well as a third of the Senate, as senators have six-year terms, and also state elections, such as governor racess.
For many voters, it allows them to give their verdict on the progress of policy so far in the terms, while also shaping the ability for the President, whether they be Republican or Democrat, to legislate in the remaining 24 months of their term. Not only can voters vote at a national level, but they can also vote at a state-by-state level, which could have far-reaching consequences.
What is the House of Representatives?
The House of Representatives is the lower of the two chambers of the US Congress, my colleague Heather Carrick reports.
No more than 435 politicians proportionately represent the 50 US states, with these representatives commonly referred to as Congressman or Congresswoman.
They each serve a two-year term, with elections taking place during the presidential vote and the midterms. The House of Representatives introduces bills and legislation at a federal level, with Congressmen and Congresswomen also taking part in committees.
What is the Senate?
The US Senate is the upper chamber of the US Congress. Those elected to the house are known as senators - these senators are grouped into three different classes, with staggered elections every two years.
There are currently 100 senators representing the 50 states with two senators to each state serving a six-year term. The main purpose of the Senate is to provide advice and consent to the House of Representatives.
This includes but is not limited to approving treaties, confirming federal judges and adjudicating impeachment proceedings brought forward by the House of Representatives. Both chambers - the House of Representatives and the Senate - must approve an identical legislative document for it to be passed.
Why are the 2022 midterm elections important?
During the 2022 Midterms, Americans will be voting on 34 senator positions and all 435 representative positions. The choice between electing a Republican or Democrat representative and senator can have a far-reaching impact.
Dr Colin Provost, associate professor of public policy at UCL, explains: “The midterms are important largely because control of Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government, is at stake. But also control of about 35 state governments are. So there’s control for quite a bit of the policymaking arena, that within Congress, all 435 congressmen and women are up for re-election in the House of Representatives in the lower house.
“In the House of Representatives, they serve two year terms. So not only can the direction of policymaking shift in several states, but it can at the federal level as well. So currently, President Biden has democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, but it’s looking quite likely that the House will flip to the Republicans and the Senate is a toss up at the moment.”
Therefore, a Republican win in the House and Senate could prevent President Biden from introducing some key policies he had campaigned on during his presidential campaign in 2020. It would mean President Biden may find it difficult to legislate on issues such as erasing student debt and the economy.
Americans begin casting votes
Americans have begun casting ballots in the midterm elections after a campaign that exposed the country’s political divides and raised questions about its commitment to a democratic future.
Democrats were braced for disappointing results, anxious that their grip on the US House may be slipping and their hold on the US Senate has loosened. The party’s incumbent governors in places like Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada are also staring down serious Republican challengers.
Returning to the White House on Monday night after his final campaign event, President Joe Biden said he thought Democrats would keep the Senate but acknowledged “the House is tougher”.
The Republican Party was optimistic about its prospects, betting that messaging focused on the economy, fuel prices and crime will resonate with voters at a time of soaring inflation and rising violence.
Latest projections for House and Senate
FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s data website, has projected the Republicans as favoured to win the House and slightly favoured to win the Senate.
The website’s model says the Republicans will win the Senate 59 out of 100 times, and the Democrats 41 in every 100. While it gives the Republicans an 84% chance of winning the House.
FiveThirtyEight says: “The deluxe version of our model simulates the election 40,000 times to see which party wins the House and the Senate most often. This sample of 100 outcomes gives you an idea of the range of scenarios the model considers possible.”
How could a Republican win affect issues such as Roe v Wade, Ukraine and Jan 6 committee?
My colleague Heather Carrick has spoken to Dr Colin Provost, Associate Professor in Public Policy at UCL, about what a Republican win in the midterms could mean for the US.
Dr Provost explained that a Republican majority in the House and the Senate could have far-reaching and significant effects on domestic issues and international policy. President Biden would be limited in his ability to push through legislation and confirm Democrat judicial nominees who would back his policymaking.
He highlighted Roe v Wade, the landmark abortion ruling which was recently overturned by the Supreme Court, the January 6 investigations into the storming of the Capitol and the Ukraine war as key areas which could be affected.
We’ll run through them on the live blog, and you can also read Heather’s piece in full here.
How a Republican win could affect Roe v Wade?
The world has watched as major political change has taken grip in the US over the past few years, my colleague Heather Carrick reports. One of the biggest changes - and shocks - was the overruling of the landmark abortion ruling, Roe V Wade.
The ruling, which had been introduced in 1973, made abortion legal at a national level. This overturning of this essentially gave the power of abortion laws back into the hands of individual states, which more conservative, Republican states could take advantage of to strongly restrict abortion access.
As part of the midterms campaign, Biden had pledged that he was seeking to codify Roe v Wade. This means that the President would be looking to arrange the Roe V Wade ruling in 1973 into solid law, with a bill passed through congress.
But is this campaign promise enough for some voters? Dr Provost explains: “Access to abortion is very important or for public health purposes, but the polling and then the way things are going seems to show that the average American voter cares much more about inflation and pocket book issues than they do about some of these other issues - they might not get quite as close to home.”
So if Biden does indeed lose the House and Senate to the Republicans, does it spell the end for the fight for Roe V Wade? Dr Provost explains that the Democrats did not have enough time between the overturning and the midterm elections to push through legislation in a Democrat-controlled Congress.
“If Democrats manage to hold on to both houses of Congress which seems incredibly unlikely, then maybe passing legislation at the federal level will rise higher on their agenda. That seems like something that was going to be very difficult to do in the narrow time frame between the time that Roe vs. Wade was overturned and the midterm elections.
“The other side of that coin is that, if Republicans win, even if they write new legislation regarding abortion, it’s almost certainly going to be vetoed by President Biden. So if nothing gets accomplished at the federal level, that means that the debate remains in the hands of states - it remains pretty much subject to state law.”
A stalemate between the two parties on the controversial issue would most likely happen, with Biden unprepared to make any movement on working with Republicans on the issue as to not “sell out” to the Democratic voting base. Therefore, the issue would remain in state hands, with more Republican and conservative locations attempting to introduce the abortion restrictions.
January 6 investigation
Currently ongoing is the US Select House Committee January 6 Committee. The committee, which is made up of both Democratic and Republican congressmen and congresswomen, is investigating the January 6 Capitol riots, which saw Trump supporters descend on the building.
The group was formed in July 2021 and has so far interviewed more than 1,000 people. They have also subpoenaed significant figures such as former President Trump, and close associates of his.
However, the creation of committees is at the discretion of the House of Representatives. So if the Republicans take the house what does it mean for the future of the investigation?
“The Investigative Committee would almost certainly go away and any further investigation of the events of January 6 would go away. But there’s still plenty of other investigations - criminal and civil - into President Trump. Those are at state and local level, those will continue,” explained Dr Provost.
Instead, Republicans may seek to replace the January 6 committee with their own investigation. This includes an investigation into the dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his dealings with Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
However, there is speculation that the Republicans could go even further. Dr Provost said: “Because of the election denier movement, many GOP [Republican] representatives don’t see President Biden as a legitimate president.”
He continued: “There’s speculation that the House of Representatives might vote to impeach President Biden, so that will probably be a new landmark in terms of American political polarisation. But in terms of Biden being in office, it’s probably not going to really have an effect ultimately, because it’s very difficult to see how the Republicans in the Senate could muster the 67 votes to then remove him from office even if the Republican Republicans in the House didn’t vote to impeach him.”