- What is the balance of Congress looking like?: Democrats breathed a sigh of relief by avoiding overwhelming losses (as some had predicted) though Republicans are still on track to take the House. But it’s the Senate that’s closer.
- What big races are we waiting on?: All eyes are on Nevada and Arizona where ballots are still being counted in crucial Senate races that could determine whether Democrats hold on to Senate control. Dozens of House races still don’t have resolutions, including a nail-biter in GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Colorado district. A handful of governor contests, including in Arizona where Trump-endorsed Kari Lake trails Democrat Katie Hobbs, are to-be-determined as well.
- Alaska and Georgia Senate outcomes will have to wait: If Republicans win one of the Senate contests in Nevada and Arizona, it will all come down to Georgia, where Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Trump-backed Republican challenger Herschel Walker will face off in a runoff Dec. 6. A Republican v. Republican match-up in Alaska between Trump-backed Kelly Tshibaka and Sen. Lisa Murkowski is heading to another count.
Here’s the latest:
After Republicans’ expectations of a resounding red wave crashed down, many in the party are pointing the finger at former President Donald Trump.
- New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said in an interview on SiriusXM that Trump announcing a presidential run before the holidays is a “terrible idea” that could “muck up” Georgia Republican Herschel Walker’s chances at winning his U.S. Senate bid against Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock.
- Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears broke with the former president Thursday, saying she “just couldn’t” support him in another presidential bid. “The voters have spoken, and they’ve said that they want a different leader,” she said. “And a true leader understands when they have become a liability.”
- Among the particularly vocal have been politicians in Pennsylvania, a swing state where Democrats John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro prevailed over Trump-backed Republican challengers Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano for the U.S. Senate and state governorship, respectively. Retiring Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said there was a “high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses” and predicted that Trump’s influence would “wane” over time. Former Rep. Lou Barletta, one of Trump’s earliest supporters, said Trump “interfered with the primary here when there was no reason for it.”
– Ella Lee
Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, told USA TODAY he’s “all in” on former President Donald Trump’s expected 2024 presidential bid.
“I want Donald Trump to come back (in) 2024,” Nehls, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said. “I am all in with him….We didn’t have the crises in our country that we have today when Donald Trump was the president.”
Nehls argued that despite some Republicans’ claims that Trump-back candidates underperformed Tuesday, others – like himself – overperformed in his southeastern Texas district, which he attributed to the former president.
“Donald Trump is the leader of our party, period,” he said. “2024 is the year of Donald Trump.”
– Ledyard King, Ella Lee
Waiting on a milestone: LGBTQ candidates trailing by razor-thin margins in too-close-to-call races
A bevy of House races are still too close to call in California (16) and Oregon (2).
Of particular interest: the congressional races of Democrats Jamie McLeod-Skinner in Oregon and Will Rollins in California. Both are trailing by small margins.
They are also the last openly LGBTQ federal candidates still to be decided, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund political action committee.
Early Wednesday, the group said 340 out LGBTQ candidates had won elections all the way up and down the ballot, from races for school boards to the U.S. Senate.
As of Friday morning, that number was 436, shattering past records. LGBTQ Victory Fund spokesman Albert Fujii told USA TODAY. The group can chalk up two more if McLeod-Skinner and Rollins pull off victories.
At GLAAD, a New York-based LGBTQ advocacy organization, President Sarah Kate Ellis, told USA TODAY that “equality was on the ballot” with a litany of hard-right conservative candidates pushing for the elimination of gender studies in schools and opposing equality measures on the state and federal level. But the wins this week, she said, are “pretty phenomenal.”
McLeod-Skinner trounced seven-term incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader in Oregon’s Democratic primary in May and faced Republican nominee Lori Chavez-DeRemer Tuesday. Chavez-DeRemer was roughly 7,000 votes ahead Friday morning, but only 85% of votes had been counted.
In California, Rollins is within 1,500 votes of Republican incumbent Rep. Ken Calvert, but just over half the ballots had been counted.
– Donovan Slack
One of the emerging trends in the still-being-counted Arizona races is that GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is outperforming GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters.
Lake was within 27,000 votes of Democrat Katie Hobbs Thursday, a difference of about 1.4 percentage points with enough ballots left to overtake her.
Masters’ totals, however, lags Lake’s totals by more than 60,000 votes. Additionally, Libertarian Marc Victor, who quit the race last week and asked his backers to vote for Masters, maintained pockets of support.
“Masters is unusual. Normally, we expect to have high levels of party-line voting now up and down the ticket,” said Gary Jacobson, political science professor emeritus at the University of California, San Diego. “If someone doesn’t keep up with the ticket, that’s usually a sign of a flaw with the candidate.”
Masters has seemed “extreme even by contemporary Republican standards,” Jacobson said. “That’s probably hurt him.”
– Ronald J. Hanson and Caitlin McGlade, Arizona Republic
A red wave may not have materialized across the country, but it flooded Iowa in the midterm elections, washing away nearly every Democrat in its path and giving Republicans almost total control of state government.
Republican operatives credit Gov. Kim Reynolds with generating enough enthusiasm to help pull down-ballot candidates to victory, in some cases toppling longtime incumbents – even as the national success they’d been expecting evaporated.
Reynolds claimed a decisive win, even as Democrats in numerous other states made gains in governors’ races. Sen Chuck Grassley won reelection by double digits. Republicans held three congressional seats and flipped a fourth. They bounced state Attorney General Tom Miller and state Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, two Democrats who hold the record as the nation’s longest-serving politicians in those roles. And Republicans grew their already substantial majorities in the Legislature.
– Brianne Pfannenstiel, Des Moines Register
If there’s anywhere that reflects what happened for Republicans in Tuesday’s midterm elections, it’s Northampton County, a bellwether in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
Conversations with dozens of voters told USA TODAY the story of why. For many, it was distaste for former President Donald Trump and wariness of a Republican party many feel has moved too far to the right.
Inflation was seen as the tailwind for Republicans to quickly reclaim control of Congress and for voters to offer a rebuke of President Joe Biden. In Easton, the seat of Northampton County, where the median income is less than $40,000, inflation wasn’t the magic bullet. Instead, it was democracy.
– Candy Woodall, Megan Smith and Ken Tran
‘Least of two evils’:Why swing voters in Pennsylvania backed Democrats in a midterm destined for the GOP
As former President Trump plans a likely 2024 presidential run, he has been laser-focused in the past week on his biggest Republican rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who won a landslide election Tuesday night to win a second term as Florida governor. DeSantis is widely viewed as a top 2024 Republican presidential candidate.
It was last Saturday when Trump first jabbed and poked at DeSantis with a less than flattering nickname during a 2022 midterm elections rally in Pennsylvania. Trump has not slowed down.
The latest installment came Thursday when Trump unloaded on Truth Social with litany of attacks, saying his endorsement of DeSantis in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary launched his political career and that DeSantis is “an average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations.”
– Sergio Bustos, USA TODAY Network – Florida
Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic nominee for governor, saw slight growth in her advantage over her Republican challenger Thursday, though the number of votes left to count was so significant it promised further seesawing in the race’s margins.
Hobbs, the secretary of state and a former lawmaker, saw a large lead of more than 180,000 votes when initial counts were posted Tuesday night. That dwindled to a few thousand over GOP challenger and former television news anchor Kari Lake early Wednesday morning, but widened slightly later that evening.
She widened the gap by Thursday evening, to just over 1 percentage point, as counties continued reporting early vote counts, including a big batch in Maricopa County.
– Stacey Barchenger, Arizona Republic
PHOENIX – Democrats padded their narrow leads in key Arizona contests on Thursday, but the races for U.S. Senate and governor were still too early to call with about a fifth of the total ballots left to be counted.
Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly led Republican Blake Masters by 5.6 percentage points, while Democrat Katie Hobbs had a much tighter lead of 1.4 points against Republican Kari Lake in the governor’s race. Democrats also led in the races for secretary of state and attorney general.
Election officials in Maricopa County, which includes metro Phoenix and more than 60% of voters, expected to begin reporting results Friday from a crucial group of ballots – nearly 300,000 mail ballots that were returned on Election Day. That group has swung wildly in recent election cycles, from strongly Democratic in the 2018 midterms to strongly Republican in 2020.
– Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press
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With 100% of precincts reporting in Alaska, neither Sen. Lisa Murkowski or Trump-backed Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka got more than 50 % of the votes.
That means the ballots will be counted again with the lowest vote-getter eliminated and votes redistributed to the remaining candidates based on order or preference from ballots cast Tuesday, according to the state’s ranked-choice voting system. The process gets repeated until someone gets more than 50%.
After the first round, Murkowski got 42.84%, while Tshibaka had 44.22%.
– Donovan Slack
President Joe Biden stayed clear of Georgia leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, sending in former President Barack Obama to rally supporters for Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Now that the Georgia Senate race will be decided in a December runoff election, will Biden campaign for Warnock?
“The president will do whatever Sen. Warnock needs him to do to help him win,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday.
Biden had an unexpectedly good night Tuesday, when Republicans failed to deliver a knock-out blow. Control of Congress is still up in the air.
But Biden’s approval rating, including in Georgia, is low. And Warnock has declined to say whether Biden should run for a second term.
– Maureen Groppe
Election results:The latest numbers on all House, Senate and governor races
Republican Rep.-elect Mike Lawler, who narrowly defeated Democratic campaign committee chair Sean Patrick Maloney in the race to represent New York’s 17th Congressional District, told CNN on Thursday morning that he would like to see the Republican party move forward from former President Donald Trump.
When asked if Trump was responsible for the lack of a “red wave” on Tuesday, Lawler said there needs to be more focus on issues than personalities and that the party moving in a different direction “is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
“I would like to see the party move forward,” he said. “I think any time you are focused on the future, you can’t so much go to the past.”
– Rachel Looker
No Black women won Senate or governor races:Despite historic campaigns, no Black women won Senate or governor races in 2022 midterms