Counting in midterm elections is nearing completion, and if the Democrats lose control of either the House or the Senate, Republican lawmakers could block President Joe Biden's agenda for the next two years.

Republicans see progress in the midterm elections — but not the red wave former president Trump predicted.
Republicans see progress in the midterm elections — but not the red wave former president Trump predicted. (Reuters)

Republicans were closing in on a narrow House majority while control of the Senate hinged on a series of tight races in midterm elections that defied expectations of sweeping conservative victories driven by frustration over inflation and President Joe Biden's leadership.

Either party could secure a Senate majority with wins in both Nevada and Arizona — where the races were too early to call.

But there was a strong possibility that, for the second time in two years, the Senate majority could come down to a run-off in Georgia next month, with Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker failing to earn enough votes to win outright.

In the House, Democrats kept seats in districts from Virginia to Kansas to Rhode Island, while many in states like New York and California had not been called. But Republicans notched several important victories in their bid to get to the 218 seats needed to reclaim the House majority.

In a particularly symbolic victory, the GOP toppled House Democratic campaign chief Sean Patrick Maloney of New York.

A Republican House majority would likely trigger a spate of investigations into Biden and his family, while a GOP Senate takeover would hobble the president's ability to make judicial appointments.

READ MORE: Biden says 'giant red wave' did not happen as US counts votes

No clear indication

Democrats won governors' races, winning in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — battlegrounds critical to Biden’s 2020 win over Donald Trump.

But Republicans held on to governors' mansions in Florida, Texas and Georgia, another battleground state Biden narrowly won two years ago.

Though neither party had yet secured a majority in either congressional chamber, the midterms — on track to be the most expensive ever — didn't feature a strong GOP surge, uplifting for Democrats who had braced for sweeping losses. That raised questions about how big the Republicans could hope their possible majority might be.

"As we sit here I can't, with 100 percent certainty, tell you who holds the House majority," said Maloney whose defeat marks the first time since 1980 the head of the Democratic House campaign arm has been defeated.

The party in power almost always suffers losses in the president's first midterm elections, but Democrats bet that anger from the Supreme Court's decision to gut abortion rights might energise their voters to buck historical trends.

Tight elections

In Pennsylvania, Democrats won the governorship and Senate in the key battleground state. Lt Governor John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke five months ago, flipped a Republican-controlled Senate seat, topping Trump-endorsed Republican Dr Mehmet Oz.

In the governor's race Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro beat Republican Doug Mastriano, an election denier who some feared would not certify a Democratic presidential win in the state in 2024.

Georgia, meanwhile, was set for yet another run-off on December 6.

Both Republicans and Democratic incumbents maintained key Senate seats.

In Wisconsin, Republican Senator Ron Johnson prevailed over Democratic Lt Governor Mandela Barnes, while in New Hampshire, Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan beat Don Bolduc, a retired Army general who had initially promoted Trump’s lies about the 2020 election but tried to shift away from those views closer to Election Day.

In top governor's races, Democrats Tony Evers in Wisconsin, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Laura Kelly of Kansas and Kathy Hochul of New York all won.

So did Republican incumbents including Brian Kemp of Georgia, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to run for president in 2024 and could be a major GOP primary challenger to Trump. 

Source: AP