The final piece of the US 2022 midterm election fell into place on Tuesday night with Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock narrowly securing his re-election to the Senate giving his party a firm grip on the chamber in two years of divided government that will kick in next January.
Warnock fended off challenger Herschel Walker, a former American football star who ran with the blessing and culture war agenda of former President Donald Trump. Warnock won in a run-off election as neither candidate had secured more than 50 per cent of the votes cast in the November elections.
Warnock, a pastor, closed the run-off race with 51.4 per cent of the votes to Walker’s 48.6 per cent.
“Tonight Georgia voters stood up for our democracy, rejected Ultra MAGAism, and most importantly: sent a good man back to the Senate. Here’s to six more years,” US President Joe Biden said in a tweet, taking aim at Trump and his brand of politics, wrapped in poll-slogan “Make America Great Again”.
The Republican candidate’s defeats came as another setback for the former President, many of whose endorsed and backed candidates lost in the midterm.
Trump, who has announced a third run for the White House, is being blamed for the poor showing by the Republican party, his continued baseless claims of losing in a rigged election, and his backing of candidates of questionable winnability.
Midterm polls have been historically brutal for the party in control of the White House, especially the incumbent’s first mid-term. But Democrats defied history and predictions – losing control of the House narrowly and increased their tally in the Senate.
Democrats were also helped by a national outrage to the a US Supreme Court decision overturning decades of constitutional protection for abortion, which galvanised the party and many independent voters, even in solidly Republican strongholds.
Democrats now control the White House, which was not on the midterm ballot though Biden’s presidency was, and the US Senate, increasing their tally from 50 in the 100-member body to 51. Republicans have taken the House of Representatives, but by a very narrow margin.
The next two years are likely to be tumultuous with Republicans determined to launch several congressional investigations against the Biden administration – on influx of immigrants through the southern border, his son Hunter Biden’s alleged misuse of his father’s influence for personal gains when Biden was Vice President and the messy Afghanistan pullout.
Biden’s legislative agenda is all but dead as the Republican-led House will barely be as cooperative as the Nancy Pelosi-led House. But Democrats’ control of the Senate will prevent a complete shutdown of the Biden administration.