With control of the two chambers of the US Congress still hanging in balance, President Joe Biden has said that the midterm election was “a good day for democracy”.
And acknowledging the impending, but not secured, Republican control of the House of Representatives, he promised to work with them.
The US President also said he had every intention of running for a second term but said a final decision will be taken in consultation with this family early next year.
Control of both chambers of congress remains undecided. Republicans are on their way and will clinch it, but with a much reduced majority than many of them had hoped for in anticipation of a “red wave”.
Defying headwinds of history, Democrats not only avoided a rout that has visited the parties of every President in the first midterm election of their first term, they have a realistic shot at retaining control of the Senate, which now hinges on the outcomes of close Senate races in Arizona, Nevada and Georgia.
The Georgia race is gone into a December runoff because no candidate secured 50 per cent of the votes.
Late Wednesday evening, Republicans led the tally for the 435-member House of Representatives 207-188 and the 100-member senate 48-47. The outcomes were much closer and competitive than foreseen.
“It was a good day, I think, for democracy. And I think it was a good day for America,” Biden said at a news conference, which has become a post-midterm election ritual.
“Our democracy has been tested in recent years. But with their votes, the American people have spoken and proven once again that democracy is who we are.”
Biden did not mention his predecessor former President Donald Trump in this context, but the reference was unmistakably to his lies about the election he lost in 2020 that have created armies of of “election deniers” on the right, many of whom were in the fray and lost, such as Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governorship of swing state Pennsylvania.
The President was also relieved he escaped the drubbing that his former boss President Barack Obama got in 2010, his first midterm elections, when the Democrats lost 63 seats in the House of Representatives. Republicans lost 43 seats in 2018, Trump’s first term midterm.
“We lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than any Democratic President’s first midterm election in the last 40 years,” Biden said.
Democrats were expected to get hammered in the midterm, because of Biden’s low popularity ratings and an obstinate inflation in addition to history. They did not, and, in fact, flipped seats and positions held previously by Republicans, such as the open US Senate seat in Pennsylvania; it was won by John Fetterman, the state Lt.Governor, beating Mehmet Oz, a celebrity TV doctor backed by Trump.
Democrats also won the governorship of Maryland which was previously held by a Republican.
The President also acknowledged he had heard the American people.
“Another thing that we know is that voters spoke clearly about their concerns — about raising costs — the rising costs and the need to get inflation down. There are still a lot of people hurting that are very concerned,” he said, adding, in a nod to issues raised by Republicans, “and it’s about crime and public safety”.
Biden went on to promise to work with Republicans invoking his long years as a Senator and Vice President.
“Let me say this: Regardless — regardless of what the final tally in these elections show — and there’s still some counting going on — I’m prepared to work with my Republican colleagues.
“The American people have made clear, I think, that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me as well,” he added.