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It’s a story President Joe Biden tells at nearly every opportunity: last year, meeting his new counterparts at his first international summit, he proudly informed them, “America is back.”
“For how long?” one of them asked.
As Biden departs this week for a weeklong around-the-world trip, the question still resonates.
“If the United States tomorrow were to, quote, withdraw from the world, a lot of things would change around the world. A whole lot would change,” Biden said ahead of his trip.
Biden hopes his stops at a climate meeting here on the Red Sea, a gathering of Southeast Asian nations in Cambodia and a high-stakes Group of 20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali will assert American leadership in areas former President Donald Trump either ignored or actively shunned.
Four defining global threats will loom over Biden’s trip: Russia’s war in Ukraine, escalating tensions with China, the existential problem of climate change and the potential for a global recession in the coming months. Other flashpoints, like North Korea’s rapidly accelerating provocations and uncertainty over Iran’s nuclear program, will also factor in.
Of those, defending Ukraine and combating climate change could be the most impacted by results from this week’s election.
At moments of domestic political turmoil, US presidents have often turned to foreign policy, where they can act with relatively few congressional restraints. President Barack Obama launched a similar tour of Asia after his self-described “shellacking” in the 2010 midterms.
Biden and his advisers believe they are entering the series of high-stakes meetings with a solid argument that his version of the US role in the world will endure. He resisted historical and political headwinds in this year’s midterm elections while many of Trump’s handpicked candidates lost. And over the past year, he secured passage of a major climate investment and rallied the world behind efforts to support Ukraine and isolate Russia.
Yet the anxieties of American allies persist over the future of US commitments – to Ukraine, to fighting climate change, to treaty partners and, perhaps most urgently, to upholding Democratic norms. Foreign diplomats have watched intently as the midterm political season played out, searching for clues to how the American electorate was judging Biden's first two years in office and reporting back to their capitals on voter dissatisfaction that could fuel Trump's return to office.
As of Wednesday night, Republicans appeared to be moving toward gaining control of the House of Representatives. And Trump is readying a third presidential bid, potentially to be announced while Biden is on the opposite side of the planet.
Read more about Biden's goals for this trip here.
Control of the US Senate could hinge on Nevada and Arizona, two states where GOP victories could elevate some of the most prominent election deniers in the country even after other nominees who had amplified former President Donald Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election were rejected by voters in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Those two western states – perpetual battlegrounds in presidential years – were still too early to call as of early Thursday morning, while a third Democratic-held seat, Georgia, will advance to a December runoff, CNN projects. Republicans need to pick off two Democratic seats to win the majority. As ballots continue to be counted across the country, Republicans appear to be slowly inching toward the 218 seats that would deliver them a House majority, albeit one that’s much narrower than they’d hoped.
The struggle for the Senate, however, is still full of unknowns – including whether it will all come down once again to Georgia after the Peach State delivered Democrats the majority in 2021 with victories in twin runoffs. It’s Nevada and Arizona that will determine how pivotal Georgia becomes.
Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly was maintaining an edge over Republican Blake Masters as of early Thursday morning, while Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was trailing Republican Adam Laxalt. CNN had estimated late Wednesday that about 600,000 votes remained to be counted across the Grand Canyon State and about 160,000 votes remained to be counted in Nevada.
Nevada: Laxalt, the state's former attorney general, was a co-chairman of Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign in the state and filed lawsuits attempting to overturn Nevada’s results in that election, which he said was “rigged.” Cortez Masto had argued that the lies and election conspiracy theories embraced by Trump and allies like Laxalt led to the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Arizona: Masters, a venture capitalist and first-time candidate, released a campaign video as he was competing for the GOP nomination in which he said he believed Trump had won the 2020 election. Masters, like Laxalt, clinched Trump’s endorsement.
After winning the Arizona Senate primary, Masters briefly appeared to back away from some of that extreme rhetoric – scrubbing his website, for example, of language that included the false claim that the election was stolen. In a debate with Kelly, he also conceded that he had not seen evidence of fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election. But the Republican nominee seemed to reverse course after receiving a phone call from Trump urging him to “go stronger” on election denialism, a conversation that was captured in a Fox documentary.
You can read more about election deniers up and down the tickets here.
US democracy, which almost buckled two years ago, just delivered a perfect reflection of a polarized nation that mistrusts its leaders and isn’t ready to unite on a new path.
Tuesday’s midterm elections gave Americans two more years to collectively decide what they really want by likely ushering in a divided government that is certain to be acrimonious but will prevent Democrats or Republicans from engineering a major ideological shift. It also scrambled the terrain of the early 2024 presidential race, with President Joe Biden and ex-President Donald Trump both moving toward new campaigns that much of the country appears not to want.
A divided government would mean two years of dysfunction, bitterness, fiscal cliffs and debt showdowns between a Republican House and the Democratic White House. Token talk of bipartisan cooperation won’t last long. Even if Democrats somehow manage to cling to the House as final results trickle in, they’d also lack the leeway to pass nation-changing laws. And whoever wins the Senate majority, the chamber will effectively be split down the middle and locked in an angry stalemate. Like America itself.
What this means for 2024: The election results pose new questions heading into the next White House campaign over the prospects of both Trump and Biden. Trump’s obsession with promoting chaos candidates in his image may yet again doom Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s chances of returning as majority leader. Trump, of course, is already blaming everyone but himself as he eyes a campaign launch next week that will lack the springboard of a Republican landslide he would have claimed was all his doing. And the roaring reelection of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis presented Trump with a huge potential 2024 GOP primary headache.
Biden, meanwhile, seemed unusually upbeat for a president who may soon face a tsunami of subpoenas, investigations and even possible impeachment from a GOP House. He enjoyed calling out the conventional wisdom during a White House news conference on Wednesday afternoon. “While the press and the pundits were predicting a giant red wave, it didn’t happen,” he said.
When Biden meets world leaders in the coming days in Egypt and Bali, Indonesia, he can crow about escaping the epic first-term shellacking suffered by most presidents. He also put off an immediate inquest about his suitability to carry the Democratic banner into 2024, ahead of a vacation he said he’d like to take between Thanksgiving and Christmas with First Lady Jill Biden to consider his future.
Yet a loss is a loss. And CNN exit polls show only 30% of House race voters want a president with a low-40s approval rating, who will be 80 in a few weeks, to run for reelection in a campaign that could well coincide with the recession many economists fear. Biden would prefer another finding from those same polls, however, that showed Trump – with a 39% approval rating – is even less popular.
Read the full analysis here.
With the day after the election wrapping up, control of Congress remains undetermined.
Republicans hold 49 seats in the Senate, while the Democrats have 48. Two states are uncalled and Georgia's Senate seat will be decided by a December runoff election.
In the House, it could be days until a full picture emerges as votes are still being counted in states like California, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona.
It's still too early to call which party will gain control of the Senate.
Democrats have had the only pickup so far with John Fetterman’s win in Pennsylvania, but they still need to win two more seats to guarantee control.
On Wednesday, CNN projected that GOP Sen. Ron Johnson would hold his seat in Wisconsin and that Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker will be headed to a Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia.
CNN hasn’t made a projection of party control in two other seats – Arizona and Nevada.
As of 11:30 p.m. ET, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona was ahead of Republican Blake Masters by about 95,000 votes after a vote report from Maricopa County expanded Kelly’s lead. CNN estimates that as of 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, about 600,000 votes remain to be counted in Arizona.
In Nevada, Republican Adam Laxalt currently leads the count against Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. CNN estimates that as of 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, about 160,000 votes remain to be counted in Nevada.
Nightly vote reports from the largest counties are expected in both states.
While CNN has projected that Alaska’s Senate seat will be controlled by Republicans, CNN has not projected whether Sen. Lisa Murkowski or Kelly Tshibaka will prevail. If neither gets over 50% of first-choice votes, the contest will be decided by ranked-choice voting.
Click here for the most up-to-date numbers.
There are currently 35 uncalled House races – Democrats lead in the vote count in 24 of them as of 11:30 p.m. while Republicans lead in 11.
Republicans need to win 9 more seats to reach the 218 needed to control the House, Democrats need to win 27 more seats to reach 218.
Click here for the most up-to-date numbers.
The White House believes that the press has “egg on their faces, yet again.”
That’s according to a White House official who spoke candidly with CNN on Wednesday about the media’s “red wave” narrative that wasn’t.
Heading into Tuesday, the dominant narrative in the press — especially right-wing media — was that Republicans were on track to have a big, if not monster, night. Focusing largely on the fragile state of the economy, coupled with the fact that the incumbent party historically doesn’t perform well in such elections, the press had all but declared that Democrats would get trounced from coast-to-coast.
But as election results came in Tuesday night, the great wave turned into a mere ripple. Pundits such as Ben Shapiro noted the view had gone “from red wave to red wedding.” Even on Fox News, the right-wing cable network that had heavily hyped the red wave presumption to its audience, pundits acknowledged the reality. Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, called it an “absolute disaster” for the GOP.
So what happened?
The US will have a record number of female governors in 2023. Still, the record-setting number – 12 – will represent a small fraction of the top executives across the 50 states.
The previous record of nine female governors serving concurrently was set in 2004, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
Incumbent female governors in Maine, Alabama, Michigan, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas and New Mexico won reelection on Tuesday, while New York Gov. Kathy Hochul won a first full term after taking over the top job in 2021 following the resignation of Andrew Cuomo. Hochul will become the first elected female governor in the state.
Two states – Massachusetts and Arkansas – elected new female governors. Democrat Maura Healey will become the first woman elected to the governorship of Massachusetts and the first out lesbian governor in the US. Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a former White House press secretary in the Trump administration, will become the state’s first female governor, winning the job that her father once held.
Arkansas and Massachusetts will also become the first states to have women serving in the governor and lieutenant governor positions at the same time, according to CAWP.
To read more, click here:
Voters in key states on Tuesday made their support for abortion rights clear, affirming a months-long push by Democrats to act on a number of ballot measures in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
Several states moved to enshrine abortion protections in their constitutions and others rejected proposals to limit abortion access or criminalize doctors in some cases. Democratic lawmakers and organizers cast the midterm elections as a referendum on Republican efforts to limit women’s choices, and the notable electoral reaction could serve as a warning sign for future GOP efforts to restrict the procedure at the state level.
About 27% of voters cited abortion as the issue most important to them, according to the preliminary results of the national and state exit polls conducted for CNN and other news networks by Edison Research. The results also showed that when it comes to the issue, roughly half of voters said they trusted Democratic candidates, compared with more than four in 10 voters who said they trusted Republican candidates.
“This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” President Joe Biden declared in a defiant speech from the White House just hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year.
While CNN projected some anti-abortion Republicans will win their races, voters in five states moved to affirm abortion rights.
Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz will defeat Republican Brian Hawkins in California's 25th District and Democratic Rep. Marilyn Strickland will defeat Republican Keith Swank in Washington's 10th District, CNN projects.
Democrats now have 191 of the 218 seats required to control the House, according to CNN's projections.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the first name of Rep. Raul Ruiz.