There is clarity about the balance of power in one of the two chambers. Democrats are cheering, Republicans are running out of money. However, an important result is still pending.
Joe Biden is on the other side of the world when the good news reaches him from home. A hotel in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh where the US president returned home to comment on a major political victory in congressional elections. The 79-year-old has been traveling to Asia for several international summits. It is already Sunday morning and Saturday evening in Washington, when Biden steps in front of the microphone and triumphantly declares that his Democrats have preserved their majority in the Senate for the next two years.
“I’m incredibly pleased with the results,” the president said. “I feel good and look forward to the next few years.” He is an unqualified optimist, so the results do not surprise him. Will the Democrats retain their majority in the House of Representatives? No exception, Biden said.
Some 14,000 kilometers away in New York, Chuck Schumer stands in front of the microphone just minutes after declaring his Senate majority. The last election predictions from major TV stations are still coming in, while the top Democrat in the Senate is already standing before reporters. “The Democrats will have a majority in the Senate and I will be the majority leader again,” the 71-year-old said. “We always believe in our victory more than many experts and forecasts.”
In fact, Democrats didn’t seem to do well in the Biden midterm elections. The president had to contend with poor poll numbers for months. High inflation and rising prices, for example for fuel, pressured Biden in the election campaign. Despite all the gloomy forecasts, Biden’s Democrats managed to hold on to their slim majority in the Senate. In a runoff election in the last remaining Senate race in the US state of Georgia in early December, they may also win an additional seat.
Biden will remain in office for at least two more years
In the House of Representatives, where the majority is still unclear, Republicans have a better chance of seizing control — which could make Biden’s next two years uncomfortable because of Republican gridlock and parliamentary investigations. But the race in the House of Representatives is also much closer than expected. There is nothing left of the predicted wave of Republican success.
Usually the incumbent president’s party gets a lesson in midterm elections. This time the former president’s team gets a reminder – not to part with him.
Former President Donald Trump played an important role in the election campaign. Republicans held one rally after another and campaigned for a large number of candidates – perhaps hoping to stage themselves as kingmakers, decision makers and leaders of the Republican Party. But Trump guessed: He pushed some radical or edgy candidates who didn’t win. And he contested the election campaign primarily with his invented narrative of dire circumstances and systematic election fraud about a country under Biden. With these he has not only harmed his team but also himself.