WASHINGTON — Polls closed in two dozen states Tuesday night as the nation cast ballots in Joe Biden’s first midterm presidential elections, with control of Congress, governors and other key races at stake. .
Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis won a second term, defeating Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, a former congressman. The victory continues DeSantis’ rise as a national Republican star as he eyes a potential run for the White House in 2024 that could leave him well-placed to be a primary GOP alternative to Donald Trump.
Democrats overturned two governorships held by Republicans, making Maura Healey the first openly gay person and the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts and Wes Moore the first black governor of Maryland.
In Georgia, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker were vying for a seat that could determine control of the Senate. In Virginia, Democratic Representatives Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria have pushed back fiery Republican opponents in what could serve as early signals of the direction the House majority is heading as Republicans hope to reclaim suburban neighborhoods that have passed to Democrats. during the tumultuous presidency of Donald Trump.
The outcome of the House and Senate races will determine the future of Biden’s agenda and serve as a referendum on his administration as the nation reels from record inflation and worries about the country’s direction. Republican control of the House would likely trigger a series of investigations into Biden and his family, while a GOP takeover of the Senate would hamper Biden’s ability to make judicial appointments.
Democrats faced historic headwinds. The ruling party almost always suffers losses in the president’s first midterm elections, but Democrats hoped anger over the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down abortion rights would inspire their voters to buck the trends historical.
Even Biden, who planned to watch the results of the evening election at the White House, said late Monday night that he thought his party would keep the Senate but “the House is tougher.” When asked how this would make governance, his assessment was blunt: “More difficult”.
Republicans are betting messages focused on the economy, gas prices and crime will resonate with voters at a time of soaring inflation and rising violence.
AP VoteCast, a large survey of the national electorate, showed that high inflation and concerns about the fragility of democracy were strongly influencing voters.
Half of voters said inflation was factored in significantly, with grocery, gas, housing, food and other costs skyrocketing over the past year. Slightly less – 44% – said the future of democracy was their main concern.
Few major voting problems were reported nationwide, though there were some hiccups typical of most election days. Some tabulators did not work in a New Jersey county. In Philadelphia, where Democrats are counting on high turnout, people have complained of being turned away as they show up in person to try to resolve issues with their previously cast mail-in ballots.
In Maricopa County, Arizona, which encompasses Phoenix and is the largest county in the state, officials reported problems with vote tabulation machines at about 20% of polling places. That has fueled anger and skepticism over the vote that has grown among some Republicans since the state narrowly went for Biden in 2020.
Polls were still open in several states with high-profile races for Senate or governor, including Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin, Arizona and Michigan. Voters in many of those states were also choosing secretaries of state, roles that typically get little attention but are coming under increasing scrutiny as GOP candidates who declined to accept the results of the 2020 campaign presented themselves to control the management of future elections.
In the first national election since the January 6 uprising, the country’s democratic future is in question. Some who participated in or were near the attack are set to be elected on Tuesday, including several candidates for House seats. Concerns about political violence are also rising less than two weeks after a suspect under the spell of conspiracy theories targeted the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and brutally beat her 82-year-old husband.
The 2022 elections are expected to cost $16.7 billion at the state and federal levels, making them the most expensive midterm elections ever, according to the nonpartisan campaign finance tracking organization OpenSecrets.
Republicans entered the final stretch of the campaign in a position of strength to regain control of at least one chamber of Congress, giving them the power to thwart Biden’s agenda for the remaining two years of his term. The GOP needed a net gain of just one seat to win the US Senate and five to regain the US House.
All House seats were up for grabs, as were 34 Senate seats – with cliffhangers particularly likely in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona. Thirty-six states elect governors, and many of these races are about to shrink to the slimmest of margins as well.
The dynamic was more complicated in the state capitals. Democrats have easily won gubernatorial races against Trump-backed candidates in Maryland and Massachusetts as well as in Illinois, where Governor JB Pritzker defeated State Senator Darren Bailey. The GOP also faced unexpected headwinds in toppling the conservative Kansas governor’s office. Democrats, meanwhile, were worried about their prospects in the race for governor of Oregon, usually a liberal stronghold.
If the GOP has a particularly strong election, winning congressional seats held by Democrats in places like New Hampshire or Washington state, pressure could build for Biden to opt against re-election in 2024. Trump, as for He could try to capitalize on GOP gains by officially launching another bid for the White House at a “very big announcement” in Florida next week.
The former president backed more than 300 candidates in the midterm cycle and hopes to use Republican victories as a springboard for a 2024 presidential campaign.
“Well, I think if they win, I should take all the credit. And if they lose, I shouldn’t take the blame at all. But it’s probably going to be quite the opposite,” Trump said in an interview. at NewsNation.
Biden’s late endorsement has left many Democrats in competitive races reluctant to campaign with him. Only 43% of American adults said they approved of how Biden handles his job as president, according to an October poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Only 25% then said the country was moving in the right direction.
Yet Biden has for months urged voters to reject Republicans who have contributed to an extreme political environment.
It resonated with Kevin Tolbert, a 49-year-old who works in employment law and lives in Southfield, Michigan. “It’s something that needs to be protected and we protect it by voting, by being absent and by supporting our country,” he said.
It could be days or even weeks before the races — and potentially congressional scrutiny — are decided. Some states with mail-in ballots, such as Michigan, have seen an increase in ballot returns compared to the 2018 midterms. These votes may take longer to count because, in many states, ballots votes must be postmarked by Tuesday, but may not reach the polling stations until a few days later. In the Georgia Senate race, candidates must win at least 50% of the vote to avoid a December 6 runoff.
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