Midterm election results and balance of power in Congress

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An election worker arrives with ballots Wednesday inside the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP)

Key races to determine control of the Senate in Arizona and Nevada have yet to be called as both states race to count hundreds of thousands of ballots that have yet to be processed.

It still may be hours – or days – before enough ballots are counted in those states to determine who won the Senate. There are also many uncalled congressional races that will determine what the House looks like when the new Congress is seated.

The unofficial results – and lingering uncertainty about who will control Congress next year – hasn’t prevented Republican apprehension about the election results, where an expected Republican wave never materialized. 

Here’s what you should know as the counting continues:

Where things stand in Arizona and Nevada — and why it’s taking so long to count ballots: The biggest reason for the delay is the way that each state handles the ballots outside of those cast at polling places on Election Day, including both early votes and mail-in ballots.

In Arizona, for instance, there are still roughly 600,000 ballots to be counted. The majority of those, about 400,000 ballots, are in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county that includes Phoenix.

Of those ballots, about 290,000 were dropped off at vote centers on Election Day, Bill Gates, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chairman, said on CNN Thursday. Those ballots have to be processed before they can be counted, leading to a lag time in tabulating.

In addition, the county has about 17,000 ballots that were attempted to be counted on Election Day but were not read by the tabulator because of a printer error, and those ballots still need to be counted, too.

In Nevada, state law allows mail-in ballots to be received through Saturday, as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. That means counties are still receiving ballots to be counted.

Clark County, the state’s largest that includes Las Vegas, received more than 12,000 postmarked ballots from the post office on Wednesday, Clark County registrar Joe Gloria said.

In addition, counties in Nevada have tens of thousands of mail-in ballots that were dropped off on Election Day in drop boxes located at polling places. Clark County said that its Election Day drop boxes contained nearly 57,000 mail ballots.

Trump vs. DeSantis: The lackluster performance of several candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump has cast new doubts on his expected 2024 campaign.

At the same time, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ resounding reelection victory is fueling calls for him to capitalize on his momentum and challenge Trump for the 2024 nomination.

The Trump-DeSantis showdown has been simmering for months now, but it could burst into the open as the primary season officially gets underway.

After “red wave” washes out, McCarthy faces tougher path: Republicans are still closing in on a majority in the House, even after Democrats had a better-than-expected night Tuesday.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is moving swiftly to lock down votes needed to claim the speaker’s gavel in the next Congress. CNN has not yet projected a Republican takeover of the chamber.

But the ultimate size of a Republican majority could determine how difficult it will be for McCarty to become speaker, as a narrow majority could prompt the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus to stand in the way of McCarthy’s leadership ambitions.

A source familiar with the House Freedom Caucus’ deliberations told CNN on Wednesday morning there are around two dozen current and incoming members willing to vote against McCarthy if he doesn’t offer them concessions.

CNN’s Ellie Kaufmann, Bob Ortega, Gary Tuchman, Paul Vercammen, Kristen Holmes, Gabby Orr, Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.