With an important political victory in the state of Arizona, US President Joe Biden's Democrats are closer to their goal of retaining their wafer-thin majority in the Senate after the midterm elections. After days of nail-biting, Democrat Mark Kelly managed to defend his hard-fought Senate seat in Arizona. Former astronaut Kelly prevailed against Republican challenger Blake Masters late Friday evening (local time). That puts the Democrats just one seat away from a possible Senate majority. Two races for seats in the Congress Chamber are still open.
The congressional elections had already taken place on Tuesday. At the "midterms" in the middle of Biden's four-year term, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate were up for election. 36 governorships and other important offices in the states were also filled. The counting of the votes in Arizona had taken a particularly long time because of the extremely close race between the two local opponents and because of electoral peculiarities in the state.
Biden called Kelly on Saturday night from a trip to Asia to congratulate him on the strategically important victory for the party. For Biden, future majorities in Congress will determine how much or little he can achieve politically in the second half of his term.
Doubts about Trump's leadership role in the party
The 36-year-old Masters, a tech investor with very conservative views, was supported by former Republican President Donald Trump during the election campaign. Master's defeat in Arizona joins the failures of several other Republican candidates who supported Trump. Their poor performance reflects on the ex-president and has cast doubt on his leadership of the Republican Party.
Before the election, a wave of success was predicted for the Republicans and a debacle for the Democrats. But neither happened. The Democrats performed significantly better than expected - even if it is still unclear who will have the say in Congress in the future.
In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans each have 49 votes after Arizona's decision. Two seats are still contested: in the states of Nevada and Georgia. In Georgia, on December 6, there will be a runoff between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker because neither opponent got more than 50 percent of the votes at the first attempt.
Head-to-head races in Nevada
In Nevada, a head-to-head race is going on between Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and her Republican opponent Adam Laxalt. The Republicans hope to take the Senate seat from the Democrats. But on Saturday morning (local time), Laxalt was only a good 800 votes ahead. Should the Democrats defend the seat, their Senate majority would be secured. The background is that the Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris, who is also President of the Senate, is allowed to vote in a stalemate.
On the other hand, should the Republicans prevail in Nevada, the Democrats would have another chance to win in Georgia. Mathematically, because of Harris' vote, you only need one of the two open Senate seats to control the chamber.
It is also still unclear who will dominate the House of Representatives in the future. There, too, voting results are counted. 218 seats are needed for a majority in the chamber. After the votes have been counted so far, the Republicans came to 211 seats and the Democrats to 203 on Saturday morning (local time). There, too, the race is significantly closer than predicted before the election.
The Republicans still have a better chance of winning the majority in the chamber. But the fact that the Democrats are so close and that a majority for them in the House of Representatives is also within the realm of possibility was something that many had not thought possible before the election. At the midterm elections in the middle of a president's term, the ruling party is usually busted and loses seats in both houses of Congress.