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Wednesday briefing: Democrats hold on, but Republicans surge | US politics

Good morning.

Polls across the US closed just nine hours ago and results have been pouring in. Democrats have been bracing for losses in the House but hoping for a narrow victory in the Senate. But the Senate is still a toss-up: for the past two years, control has been split exactly 50-50, so the Republicans needed to overturn just one seat to gain control of the upper house. But the first significant flip of the night actually went to the Democrats, with John Fetterman beating his Republican opponent in Pennsylvania. Going into these midterms, the Democrats had 222 seats in the House of Representatives to the Republicans 213 – so whoever takes the House will need to win 218 seats to gain a majority – though the House appears to be leaning Republican.

What is clear so far is that no “red wave” came crashing in. While the Republicans have managed to retain some important seats, like Ohio, the democrats have won key Pennsylvania races, taking both the governors and the senate seats and defeating Trump endorsed nominees Doug Mastriano and Dr Mehmet Oz.

Predictably, the picture is still murky as results roll in. A definitive run-down of victories and losses is yet to come, but keep a close eye on the Guardian live blog for the latest updates. And check out our live election results page to see full results of the Congressional midterms, seat by seat.

I’ve been receiving voice notes from Guardian journalists reporting on the ground in the US and speaking with voters across the country to get a better idea of what is going on. That’s right after the headlines.

Five big stories

  1. Politics | Gavin Williamson has quit Rishi Sunak’s cabinet after allegations of bullying were levelled at him by a senior civil servant and former deputy chief whip, Wendy Morton. In a resignation letter, Williamson conceded that his conduct had become a distraction but vowed to clear his name.

  2. Strikes | RMT’s 24 hour walkout in the capital will halt virtually all tube services and slow much of London down. Buses are expected to be extremely busy and roads congested, in the ongoing dispute over jobs and pensions.

  3. Environment | The world’s “most potent greenhouse gas”, sulphur hexafluoride, escaped during construction work on Scotland’s largest windfarm. More than 80 workers were evacuated.

  4. World Cup 2022 | Khalid Salman, a former Qatar international footballer and ambassador for the World Cup, has been criticised after saying that homosexuality is illegal in his country ‘“because it is damage in the mind”.

  5. Film | Veteran actor Leslie Phillips has died at the age of 98. Phillips was known for his roles in the Carry On films and voicing the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter.

In depth: Oz is done, but DeSantis triumphs

The US Capitol building in Washington DC on midterm election day. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

It took two weeks to call every seat in the 2020 US presidential elections. So what’s the point of writing a newsletter when a full picture may not emerge for at least a few days? Well, back in 2020, some Republicans capitalised on early gains to fuel conspiracies that the election was stolen from them – so it’s important to know what is happening and when. Today’s update will give you a run down of what we know so far about this year’s midterms.

1 Abortion referendums

When Poppy Noor, deputy features editor of Guardian US, went to Lansing, Michigan yesterday to report on the congressional race, she immediately saw a sign that said: “Vote no on Prop 3, no to child mutilation, drain the swamp.” Proposal 3 is the move in Michigan to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.

Despite an embittered campaign, spirits are high. “It’s a bit of a party vibe at the watch party for the campaign to protect abortion in the states constitution,” she called in. “It’s so loud in here that I can’t hear any of the results on TV,” she says with a laugh. Less than an hour ago, it was announced that the “yes” campaign won, meaning that voters in Michigan chose to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution – a huge win for the pro-choice campaigners as it is a battleground state.

Vermont became the first state to protect abortion in its state constitution: while it was a fairly predictable result, it’s still important: “It’s a strong message to Republican lawmakers who have relied on state houses and judges and other forms of minority rule in order to bring abortion restrictions across the country.”

And Kentucky looks as if it will also vote against restricting abortion rights, which would be huge, Poppy says: “It would show that even in a deep red state people do not want to restrict abortion.”

2 Florida

Ron DeSantis breezily won re-election as governor of Florida against Democrat Charlie Crist, with the Associated Press calling the race just an hour after polls closed. “The victory margin was notable, with about 93% of the votes in, Ron DeSantis had recorded a lead of about 1.5 million,” says Richard Luscombe, a Guardian reporter covering the election in Miami. “When he was first elected governor four years ago, his total margin of victory was only 33,000.”

DeSantis has become a rising star in the GOP, building on his political capital from the pandemic, when he fought with local officials over his decision to lift Covid restrictions earlier than many other parts of the country. He’s gone on to build a national platform that could lead him to be the Republican nominee in 2024.

DeSantis is seen as the most powerful potential challenger to Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential elections. Trump has warned DeSantis against running and threatened to reveal unflattering information about him if he does. His win also further crystallises Florida’s transition from a purple state to a red one, says Richard: “There was a time in the not too distant past when Florida was famous for being a swing state. In the midterm elections, that notion was thrown out of the window.”

Incumbent Republican senator Marco Rubio crushed Val Demings by a similar margin. “The margins of these Republican victories reflect a wave of red support in this state, there are no longer any elected Democrats at state level,” Richard says.

On a different note, the first Gen-Z member of congress was elected in Florida tonight. 25-year-old Democrat Maxwell Frost beat his Republican opponent on a platform advocating for universal healthcare and social justice.

Maxwell Frost celebrates with supporters during a victory party in Orlando, Florida.
Maxwell Frost celebrates with supporters during a victory party in Orlando, Florida. Photograph: Stephen M Dowell/AP

3 Ohio

Trump loyalist and best selling author JD Vance won the Ohio senate race by a bigger margin than expected – a significant victory that could decide whether the Republicans gain control of the senate.

Guardian reporter Chris McGreal sent me a voice note just after the polls closed in Ohio. “During the day, there were long lines to vote in some places, a reflection of what’s at stake for many people here,” he says. Republicans also swept to victory in the Ohio supreme court races. “These races are of huge interest to many in the state because they could decide the future of access to abortion and democracy in the state,” explains Chris.

4 Yet to come

These were the most expensive midterms, with spending on campaigning set to hit $16.7bn, nearly doubling the cost of the 2010 races. While this may be seen as an obscene amount of money to spend on leaflets, videos and T-shirts, it is a strong indication of just how seismic these elections are.

Some of the biggest senate races, in Nevada, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania, are still yet to be announced. With inevitable recounts, run-offs and delays, it might be impossible to predict where the country will be in a few months. It is already clear however that Republicans are performing a lot worse than they hoped, and the Democrats have good reason to be cautiously optimistic.

What else we’ve been reading

And image of a phone with the social media app Mastodon on its screen
Photograph: Davide Bonaldo/SOPA Images/Rex/Shutterstock
  • As Elon Musk continues to trash Twitter and drive thousands of users off the platform, this week’s TechScape has a handy guide to other social media platforms that could fill the Twitter void in your life. To receive the newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday, sign up here. Nimo

  • Writer and Everyday Sexism Project founder Laura Bates is always excellent on feminism, equality and gender, never less so than in this assessment of new research revealing – shocker! – that “challenging gender stereotypes … helps boys, too”. She notes: “Our boys deserve better than to be used as a shield for anti-feminist provocateurs.” Craille Maguire Gillies, production editor, newsletters

  • As someone who likes to scare themselves silly before bed, I can very much relate to this Vulture (£) piece on the unexpectedly relaxing qualities of horror podcasts. Hannah J Davies, deputy editor, newsletters

  • The government of Fiji faces a huge challenge that many other nations will also need to tackle in coming decades: how to relocate a country due to the climate crisis. This sweeping long read by Kate Lyons explores the challenges, successes and people who are being impacted. (And a logroll: why not sign up for the Long read newsletter, a free weekly dispatch full of in-depth features like this one?) Craille

  • Leah Harper chronicles the rise of the blind-dating app. After a decade of Tinder, Hinge and Bumble, people are experiencing dating fatigue and getting frustrated with what they view as a superficial experience. Is digital dating without profile pictures the way forward? Nimo


Football | Beth Mead tells Donald McRae about the “hate” that drove her success last season, when she won the Euros with England, and the trials of sharing a pitch with her girlfriend and Arsenal teammate, Vivianne Miedema.

Cricket | Sri Lanka Cricket is investigating “various alleged incidents” at the T20 World Cup after Danushka Gunathilaka was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Sydney last week.

World Cup | Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter has said it was a mistake to hand the World Cup to Qatar, reiterating claims that the decision was down to political pressure.

The front pages

Guardian front page, 9 November 2022
Photograph: Guardian

“‘Unethical, immoral’ Williamson quits over claims he bullied staff”. The Guardian print edition leads this morning with the demise of a Cabinet Office minister. “Williamson quits amid new claims of bullying” – that’s the Times while the Telegraph says “Williamson quits over bullying allegations”. The Daily Mail reminds us what was allegedly said: “Williamson forced out in ‘cut your throat’ bully row”. The i has “Williamson resigns amid bullying and new security risk claims”. The Metro lines up I’m A Celeb-bound Matt Hancock and Williamson on opposite sides of its front page, with the headline “He’s in! And he’s out”. A banner across the top adds a flourish: “It’s a jungle out there”. “Rumble in the jungle” – the Mirror says other celebs will tackle Hancock about the Covid crisis (sounds like riveting viewing …). “Your 300,000 voices have been heard!” – the Express says the pensions triple lock “looks likely to be honoured”, crediting its reader campaign. The Financial Times’ headline might take some decoding if you’re not blockchain–adjacent: “Crypto exchange FTX on the brink as liquidity crisis sparks call for help”.

Today in Focus

Protesters demonstrate outside the detention centre.
Protesters demonstrate outside the detention centre. Photograph: Martin Pope/Getty Images

What the scandal at Manston asylum centre reveals about our migration system

For the last six weeks conditions at a centre housing people who made perilous journeys across the Channel on small boats have been making the headlines. The home secretary, Suella Braverman, has pointed the finger at a ‘broken’ system. But why is the Home Office so often at the centre of a crisis?

Cartoon of the day | Martin Rowson

Martin Rowson on Cop27 and the US midterm elections
Illustration: Martin Rowson/The Guardian

The Upside

A bit of good news to remind you that the world’s not all bad

A prototype of Vollebak’s thermal camouflage jacket.
A prototype of Steve and Nick Tidball’s thermal camouflage jacket. Photograph: Courtesy of Vollebak

Want to pull a disappearing act? Steve and Nick Tidball’s thermal camouflage jacket has brought the fantastical idea of an invisibility cloak to life, working with the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute to create a garment containing 100 layers of the material. Their thermal camouflage jacket allows the wearer to blend into their surroundings under infrared light. It’s cost £100,000 to get this far, so don’t expect to snap one up any time soon – although the brothers believe they could be on the market in the next five to 10 years.

Sign up here for a weekly roundup of The Upside, sent to you every Sunday

Bored at work?

And finally, the Guardian’s crosswords to keep you entertained throughout the day – with plenty more on the Guardian’s Puzzles app for iOS and Android. Until tomorrow.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/nov/09/wednesday-briefing-democrats-hold-on-but-republicans-surge Wednesday briefing: Democrats hold on, but Republicans surge | US politics

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