Republicans close to majority of US House, Senate still up for grabs

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (Reuters) - Republicans are closing in on securing a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday morning, while control of the Senate hangs in the balance, two days after Democrats averted a Republican "red wave" at midterm. election.

Republicans have won at least 210 House seats, Edison Research projects, eight short of the 218 seats needed to seize the House from Democrats and effectively stall President Joe Biden's legislative agenda.

While Republicans remain favored, there are 33 undecided House contests - including 21 of the 53 most competitive races, based on a Reuters analysis of leading nonpartisan forecasters - likely ensuring the final outcome will not be determined for some time.

The fate of the Senate is much more uncertain. Either party could wrest control by sweeping out too close races in Nevada and Arizona, where officials methodically counted thousands of uncounted ballots.

The split would mean a Senate majority would go down to a second-round election in Georgia for the second time in two years. Incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker both failed to reach 50% on Tuesday, forcing them into a one-on-one battle on December 6.

Even a slim House majority would allow Republicans to shape the remainder of Biden's term, stymie priorities such as abortion rights and launch investigations into his government and family.

Biden acknowledged that reality on Wednesday, saying he was ready to work with Republicans. A White House official said Biden spoke by phone with Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy, who announced earlier in the day his intention to run for House speaker if Republicans control the room.

"The American people have made it clear, I think, that they expect the Republicans to be ready to work with me as well," Biden said at a White House news conference.

If McCarthy is the next speaker of the House, he may find it difficult to unite his splintered, hard-right caucus with little interest in compromising.

Republicans are expected to demand spending cuts in exchange for raising the country's borrowing limit next year, a row that could spook financial markets.

Senate control, meanwhile, would give Republicans the power to block Biden's nominees for judicial and administrative posts.


The ruling party has historically suffered heavy casualties in presidential first-half elections, and Biden has struggled with low approval ratings. But the Democrats were able to avoid the big loss that the Republicans had anticipated.

Tuesday's results showed voters chastised Biden for the sharpest inflation in 40 years, while also condemning Republican efforts to ban abortion and casting doubt on the country's vote-counting process.

Biden has framed the election as a test of US democracy at a time when hundreds of Republican candidates accept Trump's false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

A number of opponents of the election won on Tuesday, but many seeking positions to oversee elections at the state level were defeated.

"It was a good day, I think, for democracy," Biden said.

Trump, who took an active role in recruiting Republican candidates, had mixed results.

He won in Ohio, where "Hillbilly Elegy" writer J.D. Vance won a Senate seat to keep it in Republican hands. But several other Trump-backed candidates have lost, such as retired celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz, who lost a landmark Senate election in Pennsylvania to Democrat John Fetterman.

Meanwhile, Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who could challenge Trump in 2024, won re-election by nearly 20 percentage points, adding to his growing national profile. 

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