The Democrats secure the Senate majority

Election week in the US ends with Democrats winning Senate races in Arizona and Nevada. That also made President Joe Biden optimistic.

US President Joe Biden was delighted with the results of the US Senate election.

Alex Brandon/AP

The good news came for the Democrats on Saturday evening around 9:30 p.m. EST: Their candidate Catherine Cortez Masto defended her seat by half a percentage point against Republican challenger Adam Laxalt, the Associated Press reported. Cortez Masto gave the Democrats the crucial 50th place in the Senate, and the party no longer has to tremble – as it did two years ago – until the runoff election in Georgia on December 6th as to whether it will have the majority in the small chamber of Congress for the next two years will ask. 50 – and not 51 – seats are enough for the Democrats because they can count on the vote of the Senate leader, Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris, for the casting vote.

The fact that the party defended the Senate majority is a confirmation “for the Democrats, our agenda and the American people,” said the old and probably new Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, on Saturday evening. “The people reject the anti-democratic, extremist MAGA Republicans,” he said, echoing Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” motto. Laxalt, the Republican nominee in Nevada, was a Trump supporter. Unlike Trump 2020, Laxalt hinted on Saturday on Twitterthat he would probably not contest the election result.

Good end to a surprisingly strong week for the Democrats

This ends an election week for the Democrats that went much better than many observers had assumed: The Democrats not only defended the Senate, but can now even hope that they can expand their majority there with an election victory in Georgia. In the House of Representatives, neither party was able to secure a majority of 218 votes on Saturday evening – day 5 after the elections. But the Republicans are likely to have a small majority at the end of the count – albeit far removed from the “red wave” with which they wanted to roll over the large chamber of Congress.

Fox News grudgingly pointed out that the election cycle would have favored the Senate Democrats because the Republicans had 21 Senate seats to defend and the Democrats only 14. The television station CNN spoke of a “huge success for the Democrats”.

President Joe Biden had just landed in Cambodia when the news reached him, and when asked how he felt about the result, he replied, “I’m feeling good and I’m looking forward to the next few years,” and came across as downright euphoric. For him, the result means that in the next two years he will not have to deal with Republican majorities in two chambers of Congress, but in a maximum of one. And even if the Republicans in the House of Representatives started impeachment proceedings against him to get revenge on the Democrats for the two impeachments against Donald Trump, he would be acquitted in the Senate.

For Democrats as a whole, the majority means they can confirm appointments from, for example, federal judges and any Supreme Court vacancies in the Senate in the coming months. With these majorities, the opportunities for political games are significantly smaller than if one party dominated both chambers and the other provided the president.

Speculations about 2024

Even though the midterm elections are now over, it is well known in the USA: “After the election is before the election”. Accordingly, on Saturday evening the attention of political commentators was already focused on November 5, 2024, when the next presidential election is due. There was speculation on all television channels about the signals sent by the results of the Senate elections for the presidential election.

Across party lines, a lot is about Trump: the former president is one of the biggest losers in these congressional elections, because almost all of the candidates he favored lost. “Trump is the Republican Party’s biggest loser”, headlined the conservative opinion section of the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. CNN debated whether that shouldn’t mean he won’t run again in 2024 – which in turn should ease the pressure on Joe Biden to run again. Biden is convinced that he is the only one who can beat Trump. At the weekend, however, he left open the extent to which this week’s events could have changed Biden’s own thoughts on 2024.

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