Donald Trump has admitted the US midterm elections were “in certain ways somewhat disappointing” as President Joe Biden expressed relief that an anticipated Republican “red wave” failked to materialise.
The Democrats are still expected to lose their majority in the House of Representatives while control of the Senate will come down to three pivotal contests in Georgia, Arizona and Nevada.
Taking to his Truth Social platform on Wednesday night, the former president - who is expected to launch a fresh bid for the White House - conceded “in certain ways yesterday’s election was somewhat disappointing”.
But he maintained that “from my personal standpoint it was a very big victory” a his Republican party stands on the bring of taking control of the House.
Mr Biden said Tuesday’s election was “a good day for democracy” and pledged to work with Republicans in the House to pass legislation.
But he added that “the voters were also clear that they’re still frustrated, I get it, it’s been a really tough few years for this country”.
Mr Trump’s hopes of a White House comeback appeared to have been dealt a triple blow as results showed no huge Republican “Red Wave” in the elections, some candidates he personally backed losing and a clear rival to be his party’s presidential candidate emerging.
It appeared that the Democrats performed better than expected and Mr Trump was not going to storm back into power in Washington in two years’ time on the back of a large mid-term elections “Red Wave”.
The results were pointing towards gridlock on Capitol Hill if as expected Mr Biden loses control of the House, which will leave him struggling to get through many of his reforms.
Mr Biden said the Democrats had a “strong night” as voters set aside their concerns about him to deny Republicans the sweeping victory they expected.
He said at the White House: “While the press and the pundits were predicting a giant red wave, it didn’t happen.”
Mr Biden questioned whether Americans really want the major changes some Republicans are calling for - such as debate and votes on whether to continue Social Security or Medicare.
“I’m not going to change anything in any fundamental way,” Mr Biden insisted.
In a critical win for Mr Biden’s party, Democrat John Fetterman flipped a Republican-held US Senate seat in Pennsylvania, beating Republican celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz who had been supported by Mr Trump.
The victory bolstered the Democrats’ chances of holding the chamber but the final result was still too close to call, with the fate of the party’s narrow hold coming down to handful of key seats still to declare.
The mood at the White House improved as the night wore on, with once-nervous aides allowing smiles to creep onto their faces and saying early signs for Democrats were better than expected.
On Twitter, Mr Biden posted a photo of himself happily congratulating some of the Democratic winners by phone as Republican hopes for a “Red Wave” of victories faded.
“Definitely not a Republican wave, that’s for darn sure,” Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham told NBC in an interview.
The Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said in a statement: “It is clear that House Democratic members and candidates are strongly outperforming expectations around the country.”
In the House of Representatives, Republicans remained favourite to win a majority that would allow them to halt Mr Biden’s legislative agenda.
By early Wednesday, the party had flipped six Democratic House seats, Edison Research projected, one more than the minimum they need to take over the chamber.
That number could change. Only 13 of the 53 most competitive races, based on a Reuters analysis of the leading nonpartisan forecasters, had been decided, raising the prospect that the final outcome may not be known for some time.
The party that occupies the White House almost always loses seats in elections midway through a president’s first four-year term, and Mr Biden has struggled with low public approval for more than a year.
However, voter anger over the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn the nationwide right to abortion helped Democrats to curb their losses.
In Florida, though, Ron DeSantis, 44, stormed to victory as state governor, strengthening his position to challenge Mr Trump, 76, to be the Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, if both men decide to stand.
The Associated Press called his win over Democrat Charlie Crist just an hour after the polls closed.
With 96 per cent of precincts reporting, Mr DeSantis led Mr Crist by a 20-point margin, far better than three-point margin that Mr Trump beat Mr Biden by in the state just two years ago.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio also cruised to victory in Florida, securing his third term as the Democrats struggled in the key state, NBC News projected.
“I believe we’re on the cusp of a new generation of leadership in this Republican party that will restore common sense,” he said, in what was seen as a swipe at Mr Trump
Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, told the Financial Times: “This is not a tsunamiâ .â .â . I think that Republicans got ahead of themselves.”
He branded Mr DeSantis “the real winner” of Tuesday night, adding: “He has turned a successful governorship into a nationwide movement. I think he is going to give [Donald] Trump a run for his money.”
However, Mr Trump has repeatedly defied his critics, and could still be heading for the White House again despite his tumultuous presidency.
A Republican majority in the House, even a narrow one, would be able to block Mr Biden’s priorities while launching politically damaging investigations into his administration and family.
Republican hopes of taking control of the Senate were boosted later on Monday as CNN projected Ron Johnson would win re-election in Wisconsin - a key battleground case.
The fate of the upper chamber looks set to be decided by pivotal battles in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada.
The Georgia Senate race could end up in a December 6 run-off.
Democrats currently control the 50-50 Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break any ties.
As of 5pm UK time on Monday, the Democrats held 48 Senate seats and Republicans 49. It means whoever wins two of the three outstanding contests in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada - which were all held by Democrats - will control the Senate
Thirty-five Senate seats, all 435 House seats and three dozen governors’ races were on the ballot.
More than 46 million Americans voted ahead of Election Day, either by mail or in person, according to data from the US Election Project, and state election officials cautioned that counting those ballots will take time.
High inflation and abortion rights were voters’ top concerns, with about three in ten voters picking one or the other as their top concern, exit polls showed.
Crime, a major focus in Republican messaging in the campaign’s final weeks, was the top issue for just about one in ten voters.