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The “Red Wave” and 2022 US Midterm Election Results

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

The much-expected “Red Wave” by numerous political pundits from both the left and right has been minimized to small ripples that barely shifted political influence in Washington D.C. Nonetheless, some states experienced a historical night of election on November 8th, 2022, as their results disrupted decades-long political trends and patterns.

Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty; The Atlantic

Historical Precedents of US House of Representative Elections

The United States House of Representatives (HOR) has been controlled for the last four years by the Democratic party, as US politics saw a shift from conservatism, which was popular during the 2016 election cycle, to progressive and more orthodox forms of politics. In 2018, the Democratic party led by Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12) gathered unprecedented support for the 21st century, earning ten million more cumulative votes than its rival and successfully changing a whopping 41 seats in the House from Republican to Democrat. Two years later, in possibly one of the most divisive federal elections in the history of the US, the Democrat’s majority in the HOR decreased by 13 seats, not enough to change the influence of the House but enough to contribute to an easier flip by the Republicans in the 2022 election cycle.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12). Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

Results of the 2022 Congressional Midterm Election

In the months leading up to November 8th, 2022, prominent political figures in the US, the likes of Donald J. Trump, Tucker Carlson, and Ben Shapiro, impetus the possibility of a “Red Wave” that will completely overturn the current influence in Capitol Hill into control by conservative politicians. The “Red Waves” according to those figures were supposed to reflect the growing irritation held by the average American towards the Biden administration and a Democrat-controlled Congress. Supposedly, Americans attributed the ongoing crises in their country, such as the unaffordable increase in gas prices, the overall rise in crime, and the weakened economy to the Democratic party. And on election night, they were expected to storm to the nearest voting sites and check off all the boxes with an R next to them. However, the hopes of a “Red Wave” by the political right were short-lived as the Republicans struggled to gain control of the House. It's important to note that even without the “Red Wave,” the struggle of the Republican party under Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA 23) was unexpected as the rival party of the president-elect usually cruises their way to a majority in Congress. Despite this, the Republicans only managed to flip 18 seats, many of them from New York and Florida, while the Democrats flipped 9 seats in predominantly battleground states. As for Politico’s 26 toss-up HOR seats, 20 went to the Democrats, while 6 went to the Republicans. Instead of the Republican party experiencing the benefits of the “Red Wave,” they overwhelmingly underperformed in key districts that would have extended their majority. Although the HOR election hasn’t officially been concluded yet, the expected power balance in the House from now to 2024 is 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats. The presumed House Speaker of the 118th Congress is Keven McCarthy and the House Majority Leader is Steve Scalise (R-LA 1).

In the US Senate, a similar trend followed as many of the Republicans in key battleground states suffered. Additionally, the Senate election cycle of 2022 highlighted a severe decrease in Trump’s influence over American politics as evidenced by Trump-endorsed candidates Mehmet Oz of Pennsylvania, and Blake Masters of Arizona losing decisively in states where Republican victory was needed for control over the Senate. Republicans also failed to win in the key state of Nevada where Adam Laxalt (R) lost to the Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto by less than one percent or 20 thousand votes.

Democratic Senate candidate, Lt. Governor John Fetterman (left) and Trump-endorsed Republican Senate Candidate, Dr.Mehmet Oz (right) fought tooth and nail for the Pennsylvania senate seat, John Associated Press

Georgia’s Senate Run-Off Race

Now, America’s eyes rest on the run-off race in Georgia, where Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock will face off with Herschel Walker for the final seat in the US Senate as neither of them managed to get over 50 percent of Georgian votes. The Democrats will still maintain their control of the Senate whether Warnock wins or not as they have their needed 50 Senators secured. With a Democratic presidential administration, and former Democratic Senator from California, Kamala Harris as Vice President, the Democrats have control over the Senate by technicality. The win in Georgia is still important to both parties as it will reflect the influence of Donald Trump in the key battleground state of Georgia and the influence of the power structure of the Senate in the long run. Unlike the Republicans who had 21 seats up for reelection, the Democrats only had 14. A win in Georgia by the Democratic party will enable them to maintain their majority or have a safety net in case they lose the senate majority to the Republicans in 2024.

Democratic candidate and incumbent Raphael Warnock (left) and former NFL star Herschel Walker (right) will compete for Georgia’s senate seat in a run-off election. Nicole Craine for The New York Times; Nicole Buchanan for The New York Times

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