More than 35 million Americans have already voted in congressional races nationwide ahead of this Tuesday’s midterm elections, as central Republicans predicted on Sunday that they will wrest control of both houses of Congress from Democrats in the second half of Democratic President Joe Biden’s four-year term in the White House.
The early voting trend continues, with the US Elections Project saying this year’s total number of days before voting has already surpassed that of the 2014 and 2018 congressional elections that took place midway through the presidencies 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 ease the fears of many voters who are afraid to cast ballots in person at the polls while the coronavirus pandemic is at its height .
Now, many voters have become accustomed to voting ahead of Election Day, especially the Democrats. Meanwhile, Trump, who has repeatedly signaled that he is about to announce a 2024 presidential campaign, and some other Republicans, who repeatedly attack 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 had the thinnest control of both chambers since early 2021, allowing Biden to advance some of his legislative priorities, often over virtually consolidated opposition from Republican lawmakers.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” show Sunday, Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel declared, “I think we’re going to take back the House and the Senate.”
The Senate is now split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris giving Democrats the tie-breaking advantage.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who is leading the Republican campaign 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 the Republicans,” predicted Marc Short, former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, on CNN.
Democrats are wary of Tuesday’s election results, with Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen telling CNN: “We didn’t listen to the voters in this election.” She also said some Democratic candidates didn’t focus enough on the rising cost of living, which a large majority of voters say is their top concern, not whether Republican candidates still reject the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 victory over Trump, as many Republicans claim.
Still, New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who himself faces a tough re-election race, expressed confidence in Democrats’ ability to hold on to control of the House.
“We will keep this majority,” he told NBC.
As it stands now, CNN projects Republicans leading in 216 House elections, just short of the 218 needed for a majority in the 435-member chamber, and Democrats holding the lead in 199 races, 20 seats too close for the project.
CNN said eight competitive Senate races would determine control of the upper chamber of Congress.
A prominent US political polling site, fivethirtyeight.com, now gives Republicans a 55% chance of winning the Senate and an 84% probability of overcoming Democratic control of the House.