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International News: U.S. general election sees control of Congress hanging in balance

Posted: Wednesday, November 9, 2022. 2:19 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Major parties in the United States remain in a tight race for control of the national Congress, per reporting from BBC News and U.S. partner CBS News.

The current opposition Republican Party is currently favored to win a majority of seats in the lower house, the 435-seat House of Representatives, while the rival Democratic Party still has a shot at holding the upper house, 100-seat Senate after winning a key seat in Pennsylvania and leading in other close races.

Exit polls from Tuesday’s election suggest the economy and inflation were the biggest concerns for voters, but the Republicans have so far not seen the predicted “red wave” of victories as typically occurs when the party of the incumbent president first defends its position. Despite lowering prescription drug prices, expanding clean energy, and revamping US infrastructure, Joe Biden’s popularity has taken a pummeling amid the worst inflation in four decades. Although President Biden is not on the ballot, the midterms will shape the fate of his agenda. If Democrats lose control of either the House or the Senate, Republicans will be able to block his plans.

Meanwhile, former president Donald Trump warned Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis not to launch a presidential bid following his landslide victory on Tuesday. He called the rising Republican star “Ron DeSanctimonious” at a rally over the weekend. Trump is expected to launch his own bid but saw some of his endorsed candidates fail.

Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman, only recently recovering from a stroke, defeated Trump-backed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, while the Georgia race between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will end up in a run-off in four weeks as neither candidate will obtain more than half the vote.

The Democrats hope to hold Senate seats in Arizona and Nevada, but the Republican candidate leads in the latter with votes still being counted. It means that the verdict on which party holds power in the upper chamber of Congress may not be known for days or even weeks.

The elections ran smoothly across the country, with few hiccups. According to exit polls by CBS News, abortion was the top concern for Democratic voters, while Republicans and independents rated inflation as their top issue. Republicans had their own political vulnerability on the issue of abortion following the conservative-dominated Supreme Court’s decision this year to roll back a US constitutional right to the procedure.

On Tuesday, voters in Vermont, California, and Michigan decided to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitutions, preventing any future bid by the legislature to introduce restrictions. Meanwhile, Kentucky rejected a constitutional amendment that would have said there was no right to abortion. But the result won’t automatically reverse the state’s current legislation, which almost entirely prohibits it.

 

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