Democrats defy dire predictions as Senate on knife-edge, Trump suffers big losses

America has not been swept up in a “red wave” as many had predicted, with the Democrats performing better than they had hoped in the US midterm elections.

The Republican party’s results have been described as more of a “ripple” or “shore lap”, with one of the biggest losers being Donald Trump, after many of the former president’s favoured candidates failed to win.

While the Republicans did make gains, it appeared the Democrats were limiting their widely predicted losses in the US House of Representatives and capturing important governors’ races.

But the race for the US Senate remains on knife-edge, with both parties taking almost an equal number of wins. The final result could come down to three key states – Georgia, Arizona and Nevada.

In breaking news on Thursday morning (Australian time), TV networks said the senate race for Georgia would head to a runoff in December after neither candidate won 50 per cent of the vote.

That means Georgia could decide who wins control of the Senate but the result may not be known for weeks.

The outcome of the midterms has cast doubt on Mr Trump’s barely disguised ambitions to run for president again in 2024 after many of his hand-picked candidates were defeated by Democrats.

Also, the man who is expected to be Mr Trump’s main rival for the Republican presidential ticket, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, performed very strongly, further hurting Mr Trump’s standing.

In another key win for the Democrats, Mr Trump’s celebrity candidate Dr Mehmet Oz (Dr Oz from The Oprah Winfrey Show) was defeated by hoodie-wearing John Fetterman, who flipped the highly competitive Pennsylvania seat.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told NBC that the election results were “definitely not a Republican wave, that’s for darn sure”.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that even in the battle for the House of Representatives it was “clear” that Democrats were “strongly outperforming expectations around the country”.

House of Representatives

Republicans were favoured to win a narrow majority in the House that would allow them to block President Joe Biden’s legislative priorities.

By early Wednesday (US time), Republicans had flipped six Democratic House seats, Edison Research projected, one more than the minimum they need to take over the chamber.

But Democrats were doing much better than many had expected.

Republican hopes for a “red wave” of victories faded as Democrats showed surprising resilience in several key races.

Democrats were projected as the winners in 11 of the 13 close contests that had been decided.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy had hoped to celebrate a resounding victory that would propel him into the top job of speaker.

Instead, he had to settle for a promise to his supporters: “When you wake up tomorrow, we will be in the majority and Nancy Pelosi will be in the minority,” he said.

The party that occupies the White House almost always loses seats in elections midway through a president’s first four-year term, and Mr Biden has struggled with low public approval.

US mid-term elections a boost for Biden

Major Trump rebuke

Mr Fetterman defeated Republican Dr Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, in a major rebuke to Mr Trump, whose endorsement helped Dr Oz win his competitive primary.

The win gives Democrats breathing room as they seek to maintain their narrow control of the Senate and the House remains too early to call.

“I’m so humbled,” Mr Fetterman, wearing his signature hoodie, told his supporters early on Wednesday.

“This campaign has always been about fighting for everyone who’s ever been knocked down that ever got back up.”

Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman defeated Dr Oz. Photo: Getty

His hard-fought victory gave Democrats another seat in a Senate split 50-50. Republicans must win at least two of the three outstanding races in Georgia, Arizona and Nevada to take control of the chamber.

For Mr Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor and best known for favouring hoodies over suit jackets, the win was a personal triumph after suffering a stroke earlier this year.

Dr Oz, a TV physician who was recently disendorsed by Winfrey, had questioned his fitness for office.

Trump rival’s next move?

Ron DeSantis took care of business. As expected, he was handily re-elected as governor of Florida.

Now all eyes will be on his next move – and whether he has the courage to take on Mr Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Picture two gunfighters eyeballing each other on a dusty main street.

That Mr DeSantis is considering a White House run has been an open secret for months, even though he never talks about it publicly.

Mr Trump has suggested he will announce another presidential bid, perhaps as soon as November 15.

He has taken to mocking Mr DeSantis at rallies and arguing that the governor would not be a viable contender for the nomination if he ran.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to run for president. Photo: Getty

David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida, said he expected Mr DeSantis to signal his presidential ambitions shortly.

“DeSantis is prepared for a head-to-head primary, and I anticipate he or his team will indicate that in the coming days,” Mr Jolly said.

“They believe they can win sufficient delegates to capture the nomination and defeat Trump.”

A recent poll of Floridians by Victory Insights found Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis tied at 50 per cent each.

Abortion on the ballot

If Democrats indeed end up limiting their losses in the House and keeping control of the Senate, it may be the issue of abortion rights that will get the credit.

In the run-up to the election, there was a growing belief among political analysts that the energy sparked by the US Supreme Court’s June decision stripping constitutional protection from abortion would not be enough to rescue Democrats when compared to voters’ concerns about the economy.

But there were signs throughout the night that abortion remained a potent issue. Nowhere moreso than in Michigan, where Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who vowed to “fight like hell” for abortion rights, soundly defeated Republican challenger Tudor Dixon.

Voters in Michigan also approved a ballot issue that gave state constitutional protection to abortion, meaning Republican legislators will face steep hurdles in trying to limit the procedure.

Exit polls conducted by Edison Research showed that the economy and abortion were the two top issues for voters. Among Democrats, 76 per cent said abortion was the biggest driver of their vote.

-with AAP

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