On Wednesday, it was anticipated that Republicans would win a majority in the US House of Representatives, paving the way for two years of divided government as President Joe Biden's Democratic Party retained control of the Senate.
The victory gives Republicans the ability to rein in Biden's agenda and launch potentially politically damaging investigations of his administration and family but falls far short of the "red wave" that the party had hoped for.
After more than a week of ballot counting, Edison Research projected that the Republicans had won the necessary 218 seats to control the House.
Kevin McCarthy, the current leader of the Republican caucus in the House, may have a difficult road ahead, as he will need his fractious caucus to remain united on crucial votes, such as funding the government and military, at a time when former President Donald Trump has launched a new presidential campaign.
While the loss diminishes Biden's influence in Washington, he has signaled that he expects Republican cooperation. Last week, he stated at a news conference, "I believe the American people have made it clear that they expect Republicans to be willing to work with me as well."
Democrats have been buoyed by voters' rejection of a string of far-right Republican candidates, most of whom were Trump allies, including Mehmet Oz, Doug Mastriano, and Blake Masters in Pennsylvania's Senate and Arizona's governor's races, respectively.
Even though the anticipated "red wave" of House Republicans never materialized, conservatives continue to pursue their goals.
In retaliation for two Democratic impeachment attempts against Trump, Republicans are preparing to investigate Biden administration officials, the president's son Hunter's past business dealings with China and other nations, and even Biden himself.
On the international stage, Republicans may attempt to reduce US military and economic aid to Ukraine as it fights Russian forces.
As voters were pulled in opposing directions by two major issues during the midterm elections, the United States reverted to its pre-2021 power-sharing in Washington.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, high inflation provided Republicans with ammunition to attack liberals, who won trillions of dollars in new spending. As voters' monthly grocery, gas, and rent expenses increased, so did their desire to punish Democrats in the White House and Congress.
At the same time, Democratic candidates were bolstered by the Supreme Court's June decision to end the right to abortion, which infuriated a large number of voters.
In exit polls conducted by Edison Research, nearly one-third of voters cited inflation as their primary concern. For one-fourth of voters, abortion was the most important issue, and 61 percent opposed the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
While the midterms were dominated by elections for the US Congress, state governors, and other local offices, the 2024 US presidential election loomed in the background.
Trump remains the top choice among Republicans for the party's presidential nomination, but he suffered a series of setbacks on November 8 as far-right candidates he recruited or allied himself with performed poorly.
Simultaneously, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis cruised to re-election, defeating Democratic opponent Charlie Crist by nearly 20 percentage points, as some conservative Republican voters also expressed Trump fatigue. According to reports, the former president was enraged by the high marks given to DeSantis by political pundits, which could shake up the 2024 field of Republican presidential candidates.
The 2024 election will immediately impact several legislative decisions pursued by House Republicans as they flex their muscles with a narrow majority.
They have publicly discussed reducing the costs of the Social Security and Medicare safety-net programs and making permanent the tax cuts passed in 2017 that are set to expire.
Next year, conservatives threaten to block a necessary debt-limit increase if significant spending cuts are not made.
Scott Perry, chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, told Reuters last month, "It's essential that we're prepared to use the leverage we have."
The House must first choose a speaker for the next two years. On Tuesday, House Republican Leader McCarthy received the backing of most of his caucus in his bid to succeed Nancy Pelosi.
McCarthy was attempting to obtain commitments from nearly every member of his disobedient Republican members, having failed to do so during his 2015 campaign. About four dozen Freedom Caucus members may hold the keys to his winning the speakership and the viability of his speakership in general.