Republicans Fall Short of Decisive Victory in Midterm Elections

Photo shows U.S. Capitol. Photo Credit: Greg Willis (Creative Commons License)

One week after the Nov. 8 midterm elections, votes are still being counted in races in numerous locations, including locally. However, most key results are in, and control of the Senate and House are all but confirmed. One thing is certain: the “red wave” predicted by experts has not materialized. Following the election, Democrats retain control of the Senate, while Republicans are narrowly ahead in the House races that have been called.

In the Senate, several key races determined control of the upper chamber of Congress. After the victory of Nevada Democrat Catherine Cortez Masco, Democrats gained the necessary 50 Senate seats to claim victory, with Vice President Kamala Harris possessing the tie breaking vote. In a highly-anticipated race, Democrat John Fetterman defeated Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, flipping the seat blue. Meanwhile, Arizona Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly beat Republican Blake Masters by a wider margin than expected. The last Senate race that has yet to be decided is the Georgia battle between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican candidate former football star Herschel Walker. After neither candidate received a majority of the votes, a runoff election on December 6 will decide the race. If Warnock wins, Democrats will hold a true 51-49 majority. If Walker wins, the 50-50 split will once again be decided by Vice President Harris. Democrats’ control of the Senate will allow President Biden to easily appoint cabinet members and Supreme Court justices. It will also allow Democrats to block legislation from a Republican-controlled House.

While several House races have not been decided, Republicans are in the lead, as experts predicted. However, despite many expert predictions that Republicans would dominate the elections due to popular stances on inflation and crime, Republicans are only poised to gain a few seats. This defies the trend of the president’s party losing dozens of House seats in the first midterm elections during their presidency. In 2018, Democrats regained 41 House seats from Republicans. Republicans currently lead 212-204 in the House, just shy of the 218 seats needed for a majority. Of the 19 undecided House races, Republicans are ahead in seven, which would give them a 219-216 majority. If Democrats manage to win the House, they hope to codify abortion rights. If Republicans win, they hope to reduce government spending and open investigations into Hunter Biden, China, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In gubernatorial elections across the country, Trump-endorsed candidates fell to Democrats. Only Alaska remains undecided, although Alaskan Democrat Les Gara trails Republican Mike Dunleavy 52 to 23%. In Arizona, Democrat Katie Hobbs defeated Trump-endorsed Republican Kari Lake by a slim margin. Jan. 6 rioter Republican Doug Mastriano lost to Democrat Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania. As he prepares for a potential 2024 presidential campaign, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) won reelection against Democrat Charlie Crist. Arizona, Maryland, and Massachusetts have flipped control of their governorships for Democrats, while Nevada flipped their governorship for Republican Joe Lombardo. While Democrats flipped more seats, Republicans still have the majority of governorships across the country. Of the 50 states, 24 gubernatorial seats are filled by Democrats, while 25 are filled by Republicans after the midterms. Republicans are projected to gain the remaining seat once votes are counted in Alaska. Many states allow their governors to appoint election officials, and several states allow their governors to appoint a secretary of state, who certifies state election results. Governors also appoint state court judges, which could be key in escalating abortion cases to state supreme courts.

In New York, incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul (D) defeated Republican Lee Zeldin. As governor, Hochul hopes to pass gun control laws and protect abortion rights.

Meanwhile, Senate veteran Chuck Schumer (D) defeated newcomer Joe Pinion (R). Schumer hopes to tax large corporations, fight climate change, and pass gun control laws.

In NY-22, Syracuse’s congressional district, Democrat Francis Conole narrowly lost to Republican Brandon Williams. In Congress, Williams hopes to combat inflation, reduce fuel prices, and fight crime.

In the New York State Senate, the race between incumbent Democrat John Mannion and Republican Rebecca Shiroff has not been called. With Shiroff leading by less than 0.4% with 97% of the vote counted, both candidates have filed lawsuits, with Shiroff alleging defective voting machines and Mannion demanding a recount (under New York State law, elections with a margin less than 0.5% must be recounted).

With referenda in several states to add abortion access to state constitutions, new protections for abortions have been implemented in Vermont, California, and Michigan. With Democrats taking the Senate and Republicans controlling the House, neither party can achieve its goal. Democrats will not be able to pass a law ensuring abortion rights nationwide, and Republicans will not be able to pass a federal abortion ban.

Overall, experts say the 2022 midterm elections were not a win for Democrats, but rather a loss for Republicans. Many Democrats, bolstered by public outrage over the overturning of Roe v. Wade, utilized novel strategies to secure victory. Several Democrat candidates supported radical Republicans over moderates in the primaries, then attacked them for being too radical before the midterms. Meanwhile, inflation was also a key issue. The NBC News Exit poll found that, of the 31% of voters who indicated inflation as their top priority, 71% voted Republican. Further, of the 56% of voters who support stricter gun control laws, 76% voted Democrat.

With Republicans projected to take a two-to-five seat majority in the House, President Biden’s recent legislative frenzy is likely to slow. Republicans hope to investigate Hunter Biden and impeach President Biden, although the Senate will prevent impeachment. Due to Democrats’ control of the Senate, Biden will be able to appoint federal positions and even future Supreme Court justices if vacancies emerge. Of the six 2020 election-denying candidates for secretary of state positions, zero won their elections. Although Former President Trump recently announced his bid for the presidency in 2024, many Republicans blame Trump for endorsing underperforming candidates in the midterms. While neither party’s legislation will pass easily over the next two years, voters made their voices heard on key issues last Tuesday.

Isaiah Steinberg, '23
Isaiah Steinberg is a senior at J-DHS. He is the Standards Editor and News Editor for the RamPage. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, playing with his half-brother, or sleeping.