More than 35 million Americans have already voted in nationwide congressional races ahead of midterm elections this Tuesday, as key Republicans predicted Sunday that they will take control of both chambers of Congress from Democrats during the second half of Democratic President Joe Biden’s four-year term in the White House.
The early voting trend is continuing, with the United States Elections Project saying this year’s pre-voting day total has already surpassed that during the congressional elections in 2014 and 2018 that occurred halfway through the presidential terms of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Voting rules were changed in many states ahead of the 2020 presidential election when Biden defeated Trump to ease the way for early voting to allay fears of many voters afraid to cast ballots in person at polling stations during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, many voters have become accustomed to voting ahead of Election Day, particularly Democrats. Meanwhile, Trump, signaling repeatedly he is about to announce a 2024 presidential campaign, and some other Republicans repeatedly assailing early voting, claim without evidence that it promotes fraud.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate are being contested. Democrats have held the slimmest of control in both chambers since early 2021, allowing Biden to advance some of his legislative priorities, often over virtually consolidated opposition of Republican lawmakers.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” show Sunday, Ronna McDaniel, the Republican national chair, declared, “I do think we’ll take back the House and Senate.”
The Senate is now split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris giving Democrats the edge on tie votes.
Florida Senator Rick Scott, heading the Republican campaign effort to win a majority for his party, predicted on NBC’s “Meet the Press” show that Republicans would pick up at least two seats to gain a majority in the Senate that takes office in January.
“I see a great night for Republicans,” Marc Short, former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, predicted on CNN.
Democrats are warily viewing the outcome of Tuesday’s elections, with Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen telling CNN, “We did not listen to voters in this election.” She said too any Democratic candidates did not focus enough on the rising cost of living that a large majority of voters say is their biggest concern, not whether Republican candidates still reject the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 win over Trump, as many Republicans contend.
Still, New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, himself facing a tough reelection contest, voiced confidence in Democrats’ ability to hold on to House control.
“We’re going to hold this majority,” he told NBC.
As it stands now, CNN predicts that Republicans are leading in 216 House elections, just short of the 218 needed for a majority in the 435-member chamber, and Democrats are holding the edge in 199 races, with 20 seats too close to project.
CNN said eight competitive Senate races would determine control of the upper chamber in Congress.
One prominent U.S. political polling site, fivethirtyeight.com, now gives Republicans a 55% chance of winning the Senate and an 84% likelihood of overcoming Democratic control in the House.