How the 2022 midterm elections defied history

Image via Associated Press

Image via Associated Press

The 2022 midterm elections are now (mostly) in the history books, and with  numerous states certifying their results, we can take a broad look at what occurred this November. Here are the three big takeaways.

1: The democratic party enjoyed a historically good showing, given the president’s low approval ratings. In every midterm election since 2002, the party in office suffered big electoral losses. Taking a look at the results, Democrats truly defied history. While many analysts and journalists were predicting searing democratic losses, or a so-called ‘red wave’, their predictions were proved wrong. The democrats held onto the US Senate by winning crucial dem-held seats in Nevada, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Colorado. In the US House, democrats did lose their majority, but by a far smaller margin than predicted. The final seat count in the House will result in a republican majority that is a mirror image of the current democratic majority, 221-213.   

In what was perhaps the biggest victory for democrats in the Senate, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor John Fetterman triumphed over Dr. Mehmet Oz by about five points. Many democrats had grown pessimistic about the race, especially given Fetterman’s debate performance following his stroke in May. Despite this crucial victory on election night, it took until the following Saturday to project the winner of the US Senate. That evening, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada pulled ahead of republican challenger Adam Laxalt. Subsequently, the AP projected Masto’s victory, which delivered democrats the majority. 

2: While republicans were rejected in many hotly contested races, they did have some bright spots on the map. In Florida, Gov. DeSantis enjoyed a landslide victory. . Additionally, numerous other republican governors, who were only elected by slim margins in 2018, were also reelected . These governors include Brian Kemp of Georgia, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, and Kristi Noem of South Dakota. Republican governor candidate Lee Zeldin in New York lost by only 5 points to democratic governor Kathy Hochul, where president Biden won by 23 points. Zeldin’s overperformance was also credited to have helped republicans flip several democratic US House seats in the state. Overall, incumbency won at the gubernatorial level. 

3: With the election all but over, only one contest is awaiting results: The Georgia Senate race. On November 8th, Democratic senator Raphael Warnock finished with more votes than Herschel Walker, although neither reached the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff election, which will be taking place on December 6th. 

Despite the senate majority already deemed in favor of the Democrats, national republican and democratic party figures are planning to campaign heavily in Georgia. Were Raphael Warnock to win, Democrats would secure an outright majority, without the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Harris. Were Herschel Walker to win, Democrats would maintain their majority, but would need Harris’s tie-breaking vote for the next two years. 

In competitive races, numerous Trump-endorsed candidates lost, and some by large margins. In lieu of their disappointing showing, republicans rallied around Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to run for the presidency in 2024. The new US congress will be seated in early January.