It was meant to be a much tougher road for the Democrats

Washington: Joe Biden has a saying passed down from his Irish Catholic dad: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.”

In a midterm election set against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, rising crime and immigration woes, Americans did exactly just – and the outcome wasn’t the nightmare scenario the Democrats feared.

US President Joe Biden campaigning in Bowie, Maryland. The expected “red wave” did not drown his party.Credit:Getty

By 2am on Wednesday morning in Washington, Republicans remained hopeful of wresting control of the House of Representatives but the “red wave” they had expected looked more like a trickle. Democrats had lost seats in some races but managed to hold on to others with resilience.

In Pennsylvania, stroke survivor John Fetterman even managed to flip a Republican seat in a state that could be the potential tipping point for control of the Senate.

And the dire prospect of an election filled with vote-rigging conspiracies, intimidation, and political violence doesn’t seem to have eventuated – at least not yet.

Senate seat flipped, Democrat John Fetterman waves to supporters at an election night party in Pittsburgh.Credit:AP

Indeed, in an encouraging sign for democracy, some (albeit not all) election-denying candidates backed by Donald Trump lost their contests, while others who resisted Trump’s attempts to subvert democracy won.

It was meant to be a much tougher road for the Democrats. Not only does history show that the president’s party is almost always cursed with midterm losses, Biden’s approval rating had hit record lows amid sweeping dissatisfaction over everything from soaring petrol prices and inflation rates, to his immigration policies and fitness for the job.

Indeed, in its final forecast for the midterms, posted on the morning of election day, respected forecaster FiveThirtyEight suggested Republicans had a 59 per cent chance of winning the Senate and an 84 per cent chance of winning the House.

Yet despite the worst inflation in 40 years, the worst crime wave since 1990s, and a president with one of the worst approval ratings in history, Biden and the Democrats had a much-better-than expected night.

Part of this came down to the issues. While inflation and economy were the key drivers of voter sentiment, abortion clearly mattered, too.

And part of it came down to candidate quality, with some of those endorsed by Trump – from Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania to Herschel Walker in Georgia and Blake Masters in Arizona – significantly underperforming.

Many races are still too close to call, but as conservative commentator Marc Thiessen, a speechwriter for former president George W Bush, lamented on the night: “They looked at the Republican alternative as said ‘No, thanks’.

“The Republican Party needs to do a really deep introspective look in the mirror right now, because this is an absolute disaster,” Thiessen concluded.

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