Washington Watch: Midterm election results: Republicans less than 10 wins away from House control, while Senate could depend again on Georgia runoff

Patrick Swanson / November 08,2022
Washington Watch: Midterm election results: Republicans less than 10 wins away from House control, while Senate could depend again on Georgia runoff

Washington Watch: Midterm election results: Republicans less than 10 wins away from House control, while Senate could depend again on Georgia runoff

Republicans were coming close to winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives, as results from the midterm elections continued to get tabulated.

The GOP was projected to have scored 209 House seats by the Associated Press as of Thursday afternoon. That’s not far from the 218 needed for a majority in that 435-member chamber of Congress and well above Democrats’ total of 189.

Meanwhile, control of the U.S. Senate could remain undetermined until a Dec. 6 runoff for Georgia’s Senate race.

Republicans were projected to have 49 seats in that 100-member chamber by the Associated Press as of Thursday afternoon vs. 48 for Democrats. Arizona’s contest was not yet called by the AP, but Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly had the lead, and Nevada’s race also wasn’t called but Republican challenger Adam Laxalt was ahead.

Related: Adam Laxalt tells MarketWatch he wants to extend Trump’s tax cuts and ‘end the absurd levels of government spending’

The AP said it will only declare a winner in a House and Senate race when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow a trailing candidate to close the gap. The news agency also noted that officials in Arizona and Nevada continue to tally votes, including mail-in ballots.

It could take days or weeks to get results for some competitive House races in California, and days to learn outcomes for key House contests in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona, a Wall Street Journal report said.

Betting markets on Thursday were seeing Democrats staying in charge of the Senate and Republicans winning the House. Ahead of Tuesday’s voting, betting markets had signaled confidence in GOP prospects for taking over both the Senate and House, but the Senate odds flipped quickly — as shown in the chart below — once the outcome for the midterms began to look more like a red ripple, rather than a red wave.

Related: Betting markets now see Democrats keeping their grip on Senate as midterm results don’t indicate a red wave

Exit polls suggested that Republicans performed worse than expected because many Democrats and independents voted partly to show their disapproval of former President Donald Trump — and those voters were energized by the Supreme Court’s June decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to an abortion nationwide.

Check out: Anti-Trump vote and Dobbs abortion ruling boost Democrats in 2022 election

And see: DeSantis viewed as frontrunner for Republican 2024 presidential nomination after Trump’s candidates flop in midterm elections

Plus: A ‘Trump hangover’ dragged down Republicans midterm results, Paul Ryan says

Forecasters and pundits didn’t appreciate how important backing candidates who support abortion rights would be for many voters, according to Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow for governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a think tank.

“We didn’t have the pro-inflation party and the anti-inflation party, OK? We had the pro-choice party and the anti-abortion party. That’s what we had, and so it was easy for this to become a critical political issue,” Kamarck said during a Brookings panel discussion focused on post-midterms analysis.

Charlie Cook, founder and contributor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said it’s “very, very, very likely that the House does flip, and by definition, that’s a bad night by any standard.”

But the midterms are turning out “a lot less bad for Democrats than I think we thought,” added Cook, as he spoke during a briefing on Thursday for reporters. Cook said he estimates the GOP will end up gaining nine or 10 House seats.

Ahead of Tuesday’s elections, Republicans were needing a net gain of only five seats to win a majority in the House, which Democrats have controlled since the 2018 midterms.

Democrats have run the Senate for two years, in charge of the 50-50 chamber only because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast tiebreaking votes.

Having to wait on Georgia would be a case of déjà vu for investors and other election watchers. After the November 2020 elections, the Peach State ran two Senate runoffs in January 2021 that Democrats won to take control of that chamber of Congress.