'A good day for America': Biden hails midterms even as key races, control of Congress remain undecided

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden publicly savored the results of the midterm elections on Wednesday after Democrats defied expectations and held off a Republican “red wave” that pollsters and analysts had been forecasting for weeks.

With several races still too close to call, Biden said at a White House news conference that voters spoke clearly. They're still frustrated about the economy, but they like the progress Democrats have made. They voted "to preserve our democracy and protect the right to chose."

"It was a good day for America,” he said.

Regardless of which party ends up controlling Congress, Biden said, he’s “ready to compromise with Republicans where it makes sense." He said he will invite the leaders of both parties to the White House after he returns from a multi-nation foreign trip.

But Biden also made clear he's not looking for a course correction. 

"I’m not going to change anything in any fundamental way," he said.

President Joe Biden takes questions from reporters at the White House on November 09, 2022.

Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, said his party will move a “bold conservative agenda” when it retakes the House.

“People in very different places of America said they don't want big government socialism,” Scalise said on Fox News, “and they're going to give us the House to be that check and balance.”

Biden repeated his past assertions that he intends to seek reelection in 2024, but said he likely won’t make a final decision until early next year.

“That's been our intention, regardless of what the outcome of this election was," Biden said. "I'm a great respecter of fate. And this is a family decision. I think everybody wants me to run. But we're going to have conversations about that."

Morgan Jones, an Atlanta mortician, who eagerly supported Georgia’s Democratic candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, said she can’t think of a Democrat other than Biden who would be in a good position to run for president.

"The other side is he is a bit elderly,” Jones said. “I really don't know how he could fare another four years as president. It might be too stressful for him."

Biden turns 80 later this month.

"I think there should be an age limit," Gregory Ewing, a financial adviser and retired Navy veteran from Georgia who has been voting increasingly for Democrats in recent years, told USA TODAY. "When you get into your mid-to-upper 70s there is cognitive loss. You're not as sharp as you used to be."

President Joe Biden responds to a question from a reporter during a press conference a day after the US midterm elections.

As Biden spoke, elections officials were still counting ballots in several key races and warned that the results of some key races may not be known for days or even weeks.

Republicans are still projected to win control of the House, although with a much smaller majority than expected. Control of the Senate is up in the air, with close races in Georgia, Nevada and Arizona still undecided.

But for Biden, the election results were a validation of his strategy to frame the election as a battle for democracy, to restore abortion rights and build on legislative victories.

"Democrats ran and won on his agenda," former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on MSNBC.

While the AP VoteCast Survey of the electorate showed inflation was the driving issue, seven in ten voters said the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was important to their vote. One quarter called it the single most important factor, half as many as said the same about inflation.

Duke University professor Asher Hildebrand said the election results defy two fundamental laws of American politics.

“First, that voters tend to punish the party in power in the midterm elections,” he said. “And second, that when economic concerns predominate in voters’ minds that that's bad for incumbents.”

Contributing: Phillip M. Bailey. 

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