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US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) arrives for leadership elections at the Capitol in Washington, DC.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

What We’re Watching: Republican House, Israeli robo-guns, Poland’s back

GOP wins slim House majority

More than a week after the US midterm elections, the Republican Party finally clinched its 218th seat in the House on Wednesday, giving the GOP a razor-slim majority in the chamber. But with several races still not called, the exact margin remains unclear — the tighter it is, the harder it'll be for Kevin McCarthy, who’s expected to replace Nancy Pelosi as House speaker, to keep his caucus together. A Republican-held House effectively kills the Democrats’ legislative agenda, although retaining control of the Senate will keep extremist proposals away from President Joe Biden's desk and allow him to appoint federal judges. For the GOP, it's an opportunity to launch investigations on stuff like the origins of COVID, the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the Republicans' favorite target: Biden's own son, Hunter. It might even lead to impeaching the president. On foreign policy, expect the GOP to penny-pinch US aid to Ukraine and make Congress get even tougher on China — perhaps not the best idea after Biden and Xi Jinping decided to cool things down at the G-20 in Bali.

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US House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) waves after speaking to supporters on midterms election night.

REUTERS/Tom Brenner

What We’re Watching: Domestic & foreign policy implications, lame-duck maneuvers, Trump 2.0?, a Lake of doubts

Probe payback incoming?

After being on the unhappy side of a raft of Democrat-led House investigations the last few years, incoming GOP House leaders are itching to launch a number of their own. Subjects may include the Biden administration’s clunky withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origins of the COVID-19 virus, the alleged politicization of the Justice Department, and of course, the GOP’s favorite target, Hunter Biden. What about impeachment? The Dems did it twice to Donald Trump. Could Republicans return the favor? Likely incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says the GOP would never pursue it for “political purposes.”

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will us voters show up

The Graphic Truth: Will US voters show up?

Is Trump a demagogue or a revolutionary? Is Biden a consensus builder or a divider-in-chief? Most Americans already hold firm views of the Republican and Democratic parties, and their midterm votes have been set in stone for some time. In tight races, however, the difference will be decided by whether the politically indifferent demographic decides to vote. Getting out the vote is much easier for presidential races, which many voters see as more consequential than midterms. But that trend may be shifting. We look at voter turnout in presidential elections vs. midterms since 1980, and zoom in on the turnout in some key battleground states.

Ari Winkleman

Will a GOP House speaker be able to control an unruly caucus?

The US Senate race could go either way, but most pundits and polls point to the House of Representatives turning red after Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Republicans need a net gain of just five seats to flip that chamber, and they are on track to do just that, and then some. Indeed, most polls suggest a double-digit gain for the GOP – not a red wave per se but still a sizable win.

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Ari Winkleman

Are US state courts the new battleground?

With Midterm Matters, we are counting down to the US midterm elections on Nov. 8 by separating the signal from the noise on election-related news.

The perception that the US Supreme Court is a partisan institution has increased in recent years. Just 25% of Americans now say that they have confidence in the court, down from an average of 47% between 1973 and 2006, according to Gallup. Confidence in the court has even waned among Republicans, with less than 40% of GOP voters now expressing confidence in the court, compared to 53% in 2020.

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Luisa Vieira

Why US partisan gridlock might be good for the economy, stupid

Thirty years ago, Democratic strategist James Carville had a simple message to get Americans to vote for Bill Clinton: "It's the economy, stupid."

Rather than ideology, Carville believed most voters picked candidates over their perceived ability to handle bread-and-butter economic issues. By putting money in their wallets, you're more likely to get votes from independents and moderates — crucial for winning tight state races.

Yet, in 2022 it's Republicans who are channeling their inner Carville to woo voters for a midterm election in which the GOP is favored to win control of the House, and perhaps the Senate too.

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Ari Winkleman

Overturning a US election ain't that easy

With Midterm Matters, we are counting down to the US midterm elections on Nov. 8 by separating the signal from the noise on election-related news.

A leading concern for many American voters on the left is that many candidates on next Tuesday’s ballots say the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. That’s not just because they find that opinion indefensible and willfully dumb; it’s because some of these candidates are running for offices that give them access to the processes by which future elections will be held and votes counted.

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Ari Winkleman

The Graphic Truth: Don't bet on it

Will bookies be better than pollsters at predicting the results of the upcoming US midterm elections? We'll find out soon enough, but what we do know now is that bettors give the GOP better odds of both retaking the House and winning back control of the Senate. Oddly for a country crazy about sports betting, political gambling in America remains illegal for US citizens — although startup Kalshi is leading the charge for legalization. We compare how election forecasters and bookies view the chances of Democrats keeping the Senate.

Check out more coverage of the US midterms here.

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