US President Joe Biden has expressed relief after Democrats fended off major Republican gains in the midterms.

Republicans are inching towards control of the House of Representatives, but Mr Biden noted that a “giant red wave” did not materialise on Tuesday night.

Either party could still win the Senate, which hinges on three races that are too close to call.

The party in power, currently the Democrats, usually suffers losses in a president’s first midterm elections.

Republican strategists had been hopeful of sweeping victories, given that inflation is at a 40-year-high and Mr Biden’s approval ratings are relatively low.

But exit poll data suggests voters may have punished Republicans for their efforts to restrict access to abortion.

Speaking at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Biden said the results so far had made him breathe a “sigh of relief”.

“It was a good day, I think, for democracy,” he said.

He added that his optimism had been vindicated, and ribbed journalists who had predicted heavy Democratic losses.

Buoyed by the better-than-expected night, Mr Biden said he plans to stand for re-election in 2024. “Our intention is to run again, that’s been our intention,” Mr Biden, who turns 80 this month, told reporters.

Republicans, meanwhile, were closing in on the 218 seats they need to wrest control of the House from Democrats.

If Republicans win either chamber of Congress, they will be able to block the president’s agenda. The White House is also braced for congressional investigations into the Biden administration.

Mr Biden said he was prepared to work with Republicans and would host bipartisan talks next week.

But the president also said he believed the American people would view any Republican-led inquiries as “almost comedy”.Whichever party wins two of the three outstanding contests in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada will control the Senate.

Arizona’s Senate race is leaning toward the Democrats, while Nevada is a toss-up, according to estimates by the BBC’s partner CBS News.

Georgia’s contest between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker must be decided by a run-off next month. Neither candidate passed the 50% threshold needed for outright victory.

One of the Republicans’ most prized midterms gains was beating Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, the House Democratic campaign chief.

The biggest trophy of the night for Democrats was flipping a US Senate seat in Pennsylvania.

John Fetterman, who has been recovering from a stroke, beat the Republican, Mehmet Oz, a political newcomer and celebrity doctor.

Mr Oz had been backed by former President Donald Trump, who is being blamed by some analysts for Republicans’ underwhelming night.

The lacklustre results have even placed a question mark over the timing of Mr Trump’s widely expected declaration of a 2024 White House comeback bid. He had promised an announcement next week.

But one of his advisers, Stephen Miller, told conservative network Newsmax he was recommending Mr Trump hold off until the Georgia run-off is decided.Mr Trump had mixed results out of the more than 300 candidates he endorsed.

Candidates he chose for open Senate seats in Ohio and North Carolina won.

But other contenders Mr Trump hand-picked in the Michigan and Pennsylvania governor’s races lost.

Mr Trump conceded on social media that the election results were “somewhat disappointing”.

But he maintained that “from my personal standpoint it was a very big victory”.

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