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The 2022 U.S. Midterms Recap: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The polls have closed, the ballots have been cast, and the results are in. With another election season behind us (sort of), it’s time to take a partial count of what the Congress and our nation will look like come January of 2023. In short? Some of it is good, with genuine progressive gains being realized across the nation. Some of it is bad, with Florida and New York sticking out like a sore thumb. And some of the results are just plain ugly.

NOTE: Updated on Sunday, November 13th. Some results may change.

The Good

No "Red Wave":

Let’s put this simply: When Donald Trump was president, Democrats gained forty-one seats in the House. When Barack Obama was president, Republicans won sixty-three. Now, with Joe Biden as president, the House is poised to be practically tied, and potentially controlled by Democrats once more. The trend of the incumbent president’s party taking massive losses in midterm elections is long and persistent, only being bucked most recently in 2002 during the continued wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now, that trend has been bucked again. Now that Democrats will retain the Senate thanks to the re-elections of Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), as well as vulnerable congressional progressives such as Sharice Davids of Kansas and Jahana Hayes of Connecticut.

These results are somewhat shocking—not only because they run contrary to modern political history, but also because it is foreign to see the Republican Party electorally punished for their extremist nature. In 2016, the nomination of Donald Trump was rewarded by election. Even after the 2018 midterms rout and the chaos of Trump’s entire first term, he was nearly re-elected. The optimist in me believes that the country may have finally woken up to the true political and moral rot at the GOP’s core.

A Repudiation in Pennsylvania:

Thanks to impressive turnout in the Philadelphia region, Pennsylvania Democrats and progressives saw a host of major victories across the board. Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman drew massive social media attention as he handily beat Dr. Mehmet Oz in the state’s Senate race by over 200,000 votes. Dr. Oz, a well-known television personality and Trump-endorsee, drew criticism for his longtime residency in New Jersey (not Pennsylvania, notably) and ownership of at least ten properties across the United States worth millions of dollars. 

Potentially even more impressive is Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s gargantuan victory to become the next Governor of the state, beating white supremacist and January 6th-supporter Doug Mastriano by a fourteen percent margin. While it is saddening to see that over two million people voted for Mastriano, we can celebrate that Shapiro, a progressive who ran on defending abortion rights, opposing voter suppression, and promoting economic equity, will now be a steadfast advocate for forward-thinking policies for the next four years.

Progressive Wins in Massachusetts:

In January, Boston will be represented by a handful of new, progressive women in the top echelons of Massachusetts government. Attorney General Maura Healey will succeed Charlie Baker as the next Governor of Massachusetts after running on fighting climate change, addressing the housing crisis across the Commonwealth, and criminal justice reform. She’ll become the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts and the first openly lesbian governor in U.S. history. 

Down the ballot, progressive Andrea Campbell will become the first Black Attorney General in the Bay State’s history, and Diana DiZoglio will become the first female state Auditor. Ballot Question 1, which I wrote an article on a few weeks ago, passed narrowly, alongside Question 4, which will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses and keep our roads safe. Both are welcome reforms for our state.

The Bad

Floridian Failure:

One of the first major calls of Election Night was Governor Ron DeSantis’ sweeping, twenty-point victory over Democrat Charlie Crist. Once a swing state, Florida will no longer have any Democrats elected statewide. Even in 2018, when the aforementioned national environment skewed heavily against Republicans, Ron DeSantis was able to clinch a narrow victory (alongside now-Senator Rick Scott). Additionally, Senator Marco Rubio was re-elected with nearly fifty-eight percent of the vote. If these trends continue and Florida is truly off the board, Democrats and progressives will have to look elsewhere for electoral and congressional votes.

New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down

As I write this, Democrats have a slight chance of retaining control of the House of Representatives, with great uncertainty in the number of mail-in ballots remaining on the West Coast. But make no mistake, had New York congressional Democrats displayed the same (or even similar) strength that their counterparts in nearby states did, control would be all but guaranteed. Republicans have claimed victory in four congressional districts: the New York 3rd, 4th, 17th, and 19th—all which Democrats should have won. Furthermore, New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s election is shaping up to be one of the weakest Democratic performances in decades, with Hochul only garnering fifty-three percent of the vote. Had New York not dropped the ball, this article would simply be about an incredible, unlikely, and repudiating Democratic over-performance. Instead, we could have an extremely chaotic one-or-two-seat GOP majority and the demise of President Biden’s entire domestic agenda.

The Ugly

Hershel Walker:

This one might be self-explanatory. What’s more disappointing? Herschel Walker’s 1.9 million votes in the Georgia Senate race, or Doug Flutie’s appearance at Walker’s Election Night party? I think Walker’s misdeeds and misconduct are well-known at this point, largely because his entire candidacy is beyond parody. But unlike actual parody, this isn’t funny. Herschel Walker has a genuine chance at holding high public office. It is impossible to tell who is favored in the December 6 run-off election between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock (who is now running in his fourth election in three years for the same seat, poor guy) and Walker, especially since control of the Senate may or may not hang in the balance of this single race, but I do know that whatever the result may be, he never should have gotten this close to becoming a U.S. Senator. 

The Meticulous Mail-In Ballots:

It’s more than a little frustrating to have to wait several days for results of races that may not even be terribly close in the end. Plus, the endless waiting may sow more distrust in our electoral institutions and expose them to allegations of fraud. Let’s remember, though, that election boards across the country are overworked and understaffed due to the GOP’s anti-democratic rhetoric, so it isn’t truly their fault. They’re trying! We’ll have a much better idea of the big picture soon, and hopefully after that, we can find some reforms that will speed up the process in the future.

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