Thursday, 20 Jan 2022

Midterm election results due following volatile campaign

Results of the pivotal midterm election are due this morning in what is being viewed as a referendum on the presidency of Donald Trump.

The first polls began to close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky on Tuesday as Americans cast votes at the end of a divisive campaign to decide whether Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans maintain their grip on the US Congress.

But it could be hours before the winners are determined in dozens of tight races that will decide control of the House of Representatives and Senate.

The first national elections since Trump captured the White House in a 2016 upset became a referendum on the polarizing president, and a test of whether Democrats can turn the energy of the liberal anti-Trump resistance into victories at the ballot box.

The Democrats are favored by election forecasters to pick up the 23 seats they need to gain a majority in the House, but have slimmer hopes of gaining control of the Senate, opinion polls show.

All 435 seats in the House, 35 seats in the 100-member Senate and 36 of the 50 state governorships are up for grabs on Tuesday.

The volatile campaign was marked by clashes over race, immigration and trade. In the final stretch, Trump focused his rhetoric on hardline warnings about illegal immigration and liberal “mobs.”

If Democrats capture the House, they could block Trump’s agenda and launch congressional investigations into aspects of Trump’s administration, from his tax returns to possible business conflicts of interest and the nature of his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia.

A Republican victory in both chambers of Congress would be a validation for Trump’s polarizing style, a month after he solidified a conservative majority on the Supreme Court when the Senate confirmed his nominee Brett Kavanaugh after a fight that split the nation over sexual misconduct accusations against the jurist.

Striking a dark tone at a rally in Indiana on Monday evening, Trump accused Democrats without offering any evidence of “openly encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders and overrun our country”.

US stocks ticked higher in thin trading on Tuesday, as investors awaited the election results.

Analysts expect pressure on stocks if Democrats gain control of the House and a sharper downward reaction if they win the Senate, too. If Republicans hold their ground, stocks could gain further, with hopes of more tax cuts ahead.

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