Democrats eye Georgia to boost Senate hand

Democrats have taken a victory lap after retaining control of the United States Senate, defying Republican hopes for a "red wave" in the midterm elections.

The party has now turned Its attention to Georgia, where a run-off contest could strengthen its hand in Congress.

Democratic leaders portrayed the better-than-expected performance as vindication of their agenda and a rebuke of election denialism and extremist candidates on the right - even as Republicans edged towards control of the House of Representatives.

"We were on the edge of autocracy and thank God the American people pulled us back in this election," Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer told a news conference on Sunday.

Senate control was clinched on Saturday by Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who defeated former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt who was endorsed by former president Donald Trump.

That put Democrats in charge of a 50-50 Senate by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.

A Democratic victory in a Georgia runoff on December 6 between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker would give the party outright majority control, bolstering its sway over committees, bills and judicial picks.

"We're focusing now on Georgia. We feel good about where we are," President Joe Biden said on Sunday.

Republicans, however, remained close to seizing control of the House as officials continued counting ballots, with returns still flowing in for several races, including many in liberal-leaning California.

As of Sunday, Republicans had won 211 seats and the Democrats 206, with 218 needed for a majority. It could take several days before the outcome of enough House races is known to determine which party will control the 435-seat chamber.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, told ABC News and CNN she would not make any announcements about whether she planned to remain in House leadership until after control of the chamber was decided.

There had been speculation she would resign if Democrats lost the majority, especially after her husband was attacked by an intruder at their San Francisco home last month.

House Republicans, should they prevail, have pledged to try to roll back Biden-led legislation to battle climate change and want to make permanent a series of 2017 tax cuts set to expire.

They also have vowed investigations into Biden administration activities and probes of the president's son, who has had business dealings with Ukraine and China.

Jim Banks, a Republican congressman from Indiana, said on Sunday he expected his party to win a slim majority in the House and serve as "the last line of defence to block the Biden agenda" while launching investigations into the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origin of COVID-19 and pandemic lockdowns.

"That has to be a focal point of every single committee in the Congress, especially in the House under Republican control," Banks told Fox News Sunday.

Even if Republicans win a narrow majority in the House, a loss in Georgia could further dampen Trump's popularity as advisers say he is considering announcing a third run for the presidency in 2024.

The outcome might increase the chance Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who routed his Democratic opponent on Tuesday, will challenge Trump for the 2024 presidential nomination.

In one of the most high-profile races yet to be called, Arizona Republican candidate Kari Lake trails Democrat Katie Hobbs by 1.5 percentage points, with an estimated 89 per cent of the vote counted, according to Edison Research.

Lake is one of the hundreds of Republican nominees who promoted Trump's baseless claims the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.