Many midterm races from last night remain uncalled, but the Republican Party did not deliver the midterm death blow to the Biden administration that some analysts and pundits expected. Republican gains in both houses of Congress look marginal at best, with candidates supported by former President Donald Trump underperforming severely.
No Red Wave: Election Results
Much remains uncertain about the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections. The GOP may yet gain a slim advantage in both the Senate and the House. It is mildly favored in the latter, while the Democrats are slightly favored to retain control of the former.
Several races have many as yet uncounted ballots, and some in both the Senate and the House may face recounts. It also seems likely that the Georgia Senate race between Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock will go to a December runoff which could well dictate control of the chamber.
Flipping either or both houses of Congress represents a consequential win for the Republicans. However, measured against the expectations of a major GOP victory that had developed over the last week, as well as more general expectations about the performance of the opposition party in midterm elections, the results look very nearly disastrous. Despite running against a relatively unpopular incumbent President during high inflation, rising crime, and international disorder, the GOP failed to make substantial gains.
Trump and the GOP’s Foreign Policy Divide
The election did not deliver a stunning blow to the Biden administration’s foreign policy.
The Ukraine-Russia War does not appear to have had an impact anywhere but on the margins. Mainstream Republicans tended to perform better than candidates who espoused former President Trump’s views on foreign policy, suggesting that even the GOP will be flexible on Ukraine aid.
The exception is JD Vance, who managed to hold a GOP Senate seat in Ohio and who, on the campaign trail, was one of the strongest critics of the Biden administration’s engagement with Ukraine.
However, even Vance significantly underperformed expectations in a state that has increasingly shifted red. Other candidates hand-picked or heavily supported by Trump, including Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, went down to defeat in winnable races.
Florida: The Real Red Wave
One area in which the GOP performed very strongly was the state of Florida.
Governor Ron Desantis, Senator Marco Rubio, and others performed well ahead of Trump’s 2020 benchmark, suggesting that the state is trending heavily in the red direction.
This is undoubtedly good for the GOP, but it could have unpredictable effects on foreign policy. Democratic policy towards Latin America has been hamstrung for decades by the need to appeal to voters in the Cuban and, more recently, Venezuelan disaporas. If Florida is out of reach for the Democrats, the Biden administration could gain more space for negotiating a way out of Washington’s long-term confrontations with Havana and Caracas. The latter is particularly important given tight energy markets worldwide, and a handshake between President Nicolas Maduro and former Secretary of State John Kerry at a climate conference in Egypt.
Reducing Florida’s leverage could also have an impact on Middle East policy, as Florida is home to a concentration of older, conservative Jewish and Evangelical voters who have tended to strongly support Israel.
What Happens Now?
The election could have gone better for the Dems, but it could have gone much better for the Republicans.
There is no question that the GOP underperformed relative to what we would have expected of the opposition party during a midterm election, especially in the context of President Biden’s low approval ratings.
Given that the unanimous voice of the punditry insisted that an impending “red wave” would force the Democrats into an introspective spiral, it is perhaps worth wondering what the Republicans did to earn such a disastrous showing.
The first and biggest answer may be “Donald Trump,” although whether a candidate such as Florida Governor Ron Desantis can take advantage of any perceptions of vulnerability remains unclear. It does not appear that Republican messaging on inflation, crime, or immigration allowed the GOP to capture much momentum.
The overruling of Roe vs. Wade, followed by months of incoherent Republican messaging on abortion may also have played a role, and it’s possible that many moderate voters simply don’t trust the GOP after the January 6 insurrection.
Still, the importance of the final determination over control of the House and Senate cannot be overemphasized, regardless of who won the expectations game. A world in which the GOP controls one or both houses is much different than a world in which the Democrats continue to hold the House-Senate-Presidency trifecta.
A 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, Dr. Robert Farley has taught security and diplomacy courses at the Patterson School since 2005. He received his BS from the University of Oregon in 1997, and his Ph. D. from the University of Washington in 2004. Dr. Farley is the author of Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force (University Press of Kentucky, 2014), the Battleship Book (Wildside, 2016), and Patents for Power: Intellectual Property Law and the Diffusion of Military Technology (University of Chicago, 2020). He has contributed extensively to a number of journals and magazines, including the National Interest, the Diplomat: APAC, World Politics Review, and the American Prospect. Dr. Farley is also a founder and senior editor of Lawyers, Guns, and Money.
UPDATE: We fixed two small typos – thanks to a loyal reader for pointing them out.
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November 9, 2022 at 11:56 am
Tamerlane is going to be very upset. Hopefully we get a nicely divided govt. that allows for some responsible deal making among adults….which leads to better policy on energy, among other things that need better policy here at home. while continuing support for Ukraine
Democracy in peril from MAGA
November 9, 2022 at 12:02 pm
The wildly unpopular fat guy even thru Melania under the bus by blaming her for Oz loss. He is raging at everyone for the perceived disastrous mid-terms.
Actually, it’s a win for democracy for his hand picked lunatics to lose.
November 9, 2022 at 12:55 pm
Judging from this article, I take it the Trumpers and Election Deniers are not ready to admit their Man is what’s wrong. And THE man will be the last one to admit that too.
One win for democracy and not one man/party rule like Russia/China/Syria/Iran/N. Korea/Venezuela/Chechnya/Belarus etc. etc.
Personally, I hope both sides can learn from this – your way out of line left/right politics are turning people off. Instead of WOKE/abortion, try everyday issues like low taxes, low crime, sensible enforceable immigration.
November 9, 2022 at 3:30 pm
The country will get the political leaders it deserves. You want a brani-damaged stroke victim as your senator. Go for it. You want a coward who won’t even debate as your governor? You’ve got it (or so it seems at this point).
The media will blame Trump and try to court party infighting between him and Desantis, which they know only weakens both. Trump is not the problem. We successfully primaries out a buch of RINOs who were garbage anyway. It may take more than one election to take back the Senate. I still think we will take the house with all the numbers are in.
November 9, 2022 at 5:24 pm
Lefties who immediately blame Trump fail to acknowledge that he had nine losses last night and one hundred and seventy-four wins.
But Orange Man Bad and all that. ROTFLMAO
There’s only ONE explanation for this. Democrats cheat. It’s what they do.
November 9, 2022 at 7:29 pm
What some fail to realize is a red wave isn’t necessary to gain control of Congress. 218/51 seats effectively ends Biden’s agenda. That being said, we shall see how it all turns out, but Republicans hardly need a red wave to achieve a victory. Simple control is all that really matters.
November 9, 2022 at 10:53 pm
How the heck *could* the GOP pull off what it did in 1994 and 2010 with the likes of fossil Mitch McConnell, wishy-washy Kevin McCarthy, who-knows-what he really is Lindsey Graham, turncoat Mitt ‘don’t call him Pierre’ Romney, and chief Republican war-rooter & creepy/weepy-wuss Adam Kinzinger infecting and directing the party’s Congressional wings? It *should* have been a slam dunk for the Republicans to do considerably better, but with jokers like that within their ranks, no wonder. The conditions were there, just not the right people to both formulate and scream high-to-the-sky a coherent alarm message about them against the Democrats and their lackey mainstream media-bots. Untold levels of crime, the southern border de-facto dissolved, high inflation and the highest prices ever for food, fuel, and other things, the mainstreaming of transgender and cross-dressing freakism (and onto schoolchildren to boot), and not only the highest intensified risk of nuclear war since 1962 and 1983, but the longest-ongoing higher-risk ever. Almost unbelievable now that the GOP did so much better in 1994, surprisingly due mainly to the then-Clinton national health-care plan fiasco, and the ‘assault weapons’ ban that had been enacted. In 2010 likewise there was nothing like today’s multi-pronged turmoil, only a wide and deep dissatisfaction with a widening scope of economic mailaise, as it were. Are people content with all this upheaval going on, past normalcies being turned on their heads? Evidently so, if this is the best Republicans could do under these economic, social, and foreign relations conditions. They have almost become the Keystone Cops of national politics.
Dr. Scooter Van Neuter
November 9, 2022 at 11:46 pm
I believe the abortion issue played a much larger part than was predicted. As an Arizona resident, I can attest to the tens of millions spent on Democrat messaging centering ONLY on Republican candidates being against abortion.
November 10, 2022 at 12:44 am
The same mail in fraud that was performed for the 2020 election occurred again. If you don’t stop your opponents ability to fight unfairly… they will continue to do so.
November 10, 2022 at 1:02 am
Nothing went wrong. Basically. Elections are like lottery draws or casino card games.
But bottom line is old timers in GOP now need to make way for younger guys like JD Vance & Ron DeSantis.
There’s also the little problem about printers in Arizona that needs some careful scrutiny. Seems like democratz are possibly up to doing dirty tricks.
November 10, 2022 at 7:56 am
The American people don’t trust either party. That’s why the people vote one party in & then the other. Both parties want the other to go away. Not happening. One way or another the people will get more intelligent (a decades-long process?) and more intelligent (less self-serving) candidates will come along in the process. Kumbayah.
November 10, 2022 at 2:36 pm
Why? One word: Trump.
The country voted against all of his flying monkeys because they hate him more than they hate inflation and a looming recession.
November 10, 2022 at 2:38 pm
In a few words: the fat orange Buffon and MAGA lunatics.
November 10, 2022 at 8:35 pm
King Kong beating his chest just got shot off the empire state building.
Voted 1st term for Trump.
His name calling, chest beating, calling Putin a genius at the start of Ukranian invasion, is enogh.
Trump is an embarrassment.
Glad when he,Shift,Nadler, Hilary, Bernie, Schummer are too old to run.
November 11, 2022 at 12:16 am
Illegal immigration. Why else would Democrats ruin the environment by stuffing 5 million polluting bodies in midnight bus runs to key districts?
Democrats don’t give a damn about the environment. The 30 million illegals sully our land, our water, our air.
Democrats want America to be Bangladesh.
November 11, 2022 at 5:29 am
God bless people in the world.
When running for state governor, Mr. DeSantis did not talk about foreign and monetary policy clearly. If he wants to be president, he shall deal with Fed debt and foreign trade debt, but he should oppose Green New Deal and Modern Monetary Theory. And he should not make foreign policy that will be bankrupt.
After G. Washington, A. Lincoln, and D. Eisenhower, Mr. Trump is the president who leads people not to agree with Democratic Republican Party, but lead people to fear God again.
But Trump and DeSantis should stop the wrong behaviors that they learned in Presbyterian and Democratic Republican party, and they should not be like king Biden and idol Pelosi. Trump and DeSantis have to learn the humble prayers of Washington and Lincoln, and not worship Peter or Paul.
So Mr. Trump and DeSantis have to worship Creator only, not worship democracy.
And democratic party should confess sin to God, because the abortion policy of democratic party is murder. It is the same sin as C.C.P. and something happened in Civil war, World war 2, Vietnam and Ukraine socialism war.
The judgements of God are always true and righteous altogether.
God bless America.
November 11, 2022 at 6:44 am
It smashed against the blue waterfront. Carrie Underwood says that if you’re MAGA, you’re not to blame when you cause a car crash while speeding with a baby in your car simply because you were running low on faith and Jesus was not around to take the wheel, because, you know, Satanists and LGBT hold Jesus hostage and cause road rage