The US midterms 2022 are right down to the wire. While pollsters expected Republicans to do better, Democrats have performed better than expected.
By Wednesday night the fate of the US Congress still hanged in balance with the GOP making only limited gains in the House of Representatives as many races are still undecided, but one thing is for sure: There is no ‘Red wave’. Yes, GOP can still flip the House, but the so-called "red tide" everyone was talking about, did not turn.
As things stand — battle for the control of US Senate is on a knife-edge with Democrats flipping the key state of Pennsylvania.
Considered a ‘Must-Win’ state for both parties, Pennsylvania enjoys outsized importance since Biden won the state two years ago, paving way for Democrats’ to pick up the all-important seat.
Republicans badly wanted to hold the seat to topple the Democratic majority but in the end, Democrat John Fetterman defeated Republican Mehmet Oz, declaring “we held the line”.
The control of Congress now hangs on the results of tight senate races in the states of three key states: Georgia, Arizona and Nevada.
In another high profile contest, Democrat Maggie Hassan has been able to win back her senate seat in New Hampshire. She defeated Republican Don Bolduc in what was once seen as a strong pickup opportunity for the GOP.
Republican JD Vance has meanwhile won in Ohio with the GOP still projected to take control of the House of Representatives.
In key contests for governors’ seats, Republican Brian Kemp has defeated Democrat Stacy Abrams in Georgia and Republican Ron DeSantis has won in Florida.
Republican incumbent Greg Abbott defeated his Democratic rival, Beto O’Rourke, to win a third term as governor in Texas.
In several states the race for both houses is too close to call. US President Joe Biden remained optimistic over Democrats’ odds in the Senate, but acknowledged a more challenging path to victory in the House of Representatives.
Buoyed by midterm elections in which his fellow Democrats fared better than expected, Biden said on Wednesday that Election Day on Tuesday was good for democracy but the results showed that Americans remained frustrated.
"It was a good day, I think, for democracy," Biden told reporters at the White House.
White House officials have expressed a sense of vindication that Democrats did better than expected after Biden focused his campaign pitch largely on preventing threats to US democracy, securing abortion rights and extolling his economic policies.
With many races still too close to call, control of Congress still hangs in the balance. Outcomes of some closely contested elections are not expected for several days.
1. Issues matter: Liberal ballot measures are off to a good start: Medicaid expansion is winning in Republican South Dakota and abortion rights supporters have won in Vermont and are ahead in several other states.
It’s going to be some time before we know why Republicans failed to capitalise on what appeared to be a strong year for them, but it’s likely that these popular policy positions helped Democrats quite a bit.
2. DeSantis’s landslide — and what it portends for 2024: One of the biggest winners Tuesday night was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), because he won by a lot. He became the first Republican to win Miami-Dade County since former governor Jeb Bush (R) 20 years ago.
DeSantis’s massive win in what was, until relatively recently, a swing state is perhaps the biggest signal to date that he will be a force to be reckoned with if he runs for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Donald Trump clearly sees the threat building
3. Trump’s candidates didn’t do well: After his 2020 loss, Trump set about throwing his weight around in GOP primaries, in part to reinforce that he was still in charge.
He wound up getting some flawed candidates through their primaries. He often threw his weight behind candidates who trumped his claims of fraud in the 2020 election the loudest.
As of now, each of the four Senate toss-up races feature candidates Trump backed in the primaries. If Republicans don’t take the Senate, there will be (or at least should be) a reckoning over how that happened. Some of the blame will come on Trump.
So how did Democrats beat expectations on Tuesday? Surely Roe v. Wade being overturned played a role, delivering the Democrats turnout fuel in an election in which they had been lacking it — and an election whose fundamentals favoured the opposition party.
The court decision’s effect showed up almost immediately after it came down, with Democrats suddenly over-performing in every special election. The party has indeed gone a long way to protect its Senate majority.
Democrats also capitalised on bad candidates put forth by the GOP. Several Trump-backed extremists, including New Hampshire Senate candidate Don Bolduc and Pennsylvania gubernatorial contender Doug Mastriano, lost their races.
Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker was running well behind more mainstream Republican candidates in the same state because voters split their tickets. Biden’s party gained for this.
The final shape of the Senate and House will decide Biden’s agenda but the early results in these midterms have not unfolded as Republicans had hoped.
(Inputs from agencies)
Candidates who made history
Moore, 44, a Democrat and a political newcomer, will become the first Black governor in Maryland’s history. If Stacey Abrams loses her race in Georgia, Moore will be the only Black governor in the country and the third since Reconstruction (the other two were Deval Patrick in Massachusetts and Douglas Wilder in Virginia).
Sanders, 40, a Republican, won her race and will become the first woman governor of Arkansas. Sanders was former president Donald Trump’s press secretary and is the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Healey, a 51-year-old Democrat who is the attorney general of Massachusetts, became the first woman to be elected governor in the state’s history. She is also the first openly lesbian woman to be elected governor in the country.
Mullin, 45, a Republican member of Congress and a tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation, won election to the Senate. He is the first Native American senator in nearly two decades and the first Native American senator from Oklahoma in a century.
Frost, 25, is a liberal Democrat at the first member of Gen Z — those born after 1996 — to win a seat in Congress. Frost, an activist, will represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District, a deep-blue constituency.