The unexpectedly low margin that Republicans will retain over Democrats as they usher in two years of divided government on Tuesday tempered Republicans’ midterm success in the House of Representatives.
Edison Research predicted that Republicans will win 215 of the 435 seats in the chamber, short of the 218 required for a majority. Later on Tuesday, results in close races in states like California and Colorado could give Republicans the chance to seize control of the House from President Joe Biden’s Democrats, who are trailing with 204 seats.
The news could coincide with a speech at 9 p.m. ET (0200 GMT on Wednesday) by former President Donald Trump from his Florida home, where he is expected to announce his 2024 presidential bid even as his Republican Party is showing early signs of Trump fatigue.
The anticipated House victory for Republicans will be far short of the “red wave” they had predicted for the Nov. 8 midterm elections, and some in the party have blamed Trump for the disappointing showing.
Without a resounding victory in the House, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy suddenly faces doubts about his bid for the chamber’s speakership, including a challenge by hardline conservative Representative Andy Biggs.
As House speaker, McCarthy would be second in line of succession for the presidency after the vice president when Congress convenes in January.
The speaker, elected by the entire House, sets the unwieldy chamber’s legislative agenda and the political tone of the party in power. If successful in his election bid for the speaker’s chair, McCarthy would succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
In retaliation for two impeachment efforts by Democrats against Trump, House conservatives already are gearing up to investigate Biden administration officials and the president’s son Hunter’s past business dealings with China and other countries – and even Biden himself.
They have publicly talked about seeking cost savings in the Social Security and Medicare safety-net programs, and making permanent 2017-enacted tax cuts that are due to expire.
But much of their agenda could be scuttled by the Senate, where Democrats kept their majority, as well as Biden’s veto power over legislation.
Ballots from the Nov. 8 midterms are still being counted in races across the country a week after the vote. Late on Monday, Democrat Katie Hobbs was projected as the winner of Arizona’s closely fought governor contest, prevailing over Kari Lake, one of the most high-profile Republican candidates to embrace Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in 2020.
Lake has yet to concede. After the race was called, she tweeted, “Arizonans know BS when they see it.”