Republicans had hoped for a red wave. What they got looked more like purple rain.
As Tuesday night turned to Wednesday morning, what used to be the foregone conclusion of the 2022 midterm exam has now been announced. Maybe, even more likely than not, Republicans will win back the House. And the GOP can still win the Senate. But it’s also possible that Democrats and President Joe Biden will end up with a historic night.
Democrats always expect to lose seats in the House. That much still looks like a sure bet, after a limited number of seats are out of control by Democrats. What seems unlikely, however, is that Democrats could limit the GOP majority to just a few seats — or even potentially retain the majority on their own.
If Republicans reclaim the House, not much will change. Republicans still won’t be able to turn their legislative wish list into law. They may not even be able to get their most partisan ideas out of the House — or accusation Biden as his political enemy, former President Donald Trump, urged.
That could be good news for the GOP, on a night when Republicans have to squint to see much of it. The bad news was all too clear.
Instead of the GOP majority being firm about their electoral dreams, which side will voters give a razor-thin edge — so slim that even if the Republicans win, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Whether or not the right to speak is still a question.
In the final weeks of the midterm season, expectations turned frenzied, with Republicans pouring millions of dollars into the once-fortified blue seats. Republicans don’t just measure the curtain; they plan to redecorate the whole House.
Democrats, shaken by soaring poll numbers and their historical trends, worry that Republicans could have dozens of empty seats in the House and majority in the Senate.
But as the results played out Tuesday night and early Wednesday, that scenario was gone, and Republicans were still clinging to hope that they could at least turn one of the chambers around.
After four years of Democratic control in the House, two years of unifying control between Congress and the White House, and a year of inflation that spooked voters, the GOP seems ready to push the tide of discontent to power. .
Even with so many races yet to be called, it’s clear that Republicans won’t win the seats they expect to form the basis of their majority. John Fetterman draw a close victory in Pennsylvania against Dr. Mehmet Oz to overturn the Senate seat there. GOP sideways in New Hampshire, with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and also Democratic Party legislators — Representative. Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster — winning re-election.
And Republicans have hit on several other targets: Democratic delegates. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX), won their races. The GOP failed to topple an open seat in Rhode Island that Allan Fung, a highly regarded McCarthy recruit, was hyped to win. And Republicans have lost competitive open seats in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
In fact, at 1 a.m. ET, only two Democratic incumbents, Representatives Elaine Luria (D-VA) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), had lost. Somehow, Democrats overthrew two seats held by the GOP in Ohio alone. In Michigan, GOP extremist John Gibbs defeated more moderate Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI) in the primaries — and then lost to Democrat Hillary Scholten on Tuesday night.
Potentially much better news for Republicans. That was the story in 2018, when Democrats gradually gained a majority in the GOP for weeks as the votes were counted, before reaching 40 seats. And of the Senate races yet to be called, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin are all too close to be called.
But the early signs were clear: This was not the night Republicans hoped or expected. The long-running Senate races that Republicans think they have an outside chance of toppling — including in Colorado with Senator Michael Bennet, and in Washington with Senator Patty Murray — have not ended. The gubernatorial races Republicans hope to capture — such as New York, Michigan, Wisconsin and Maine — stay in the blue. And a number of close races to the Senate, while yet to be named, look promising for Democrats.
It is a few Senate races, as well as several undecided House races, that will determine control of both houses. But with such small margins, the race for leadership for both Democrats and Republicans is a lot harder to predict than it was before Election Day.
The good news for Democrats is the fact that the Republicans elected on Tuesday are decidedly Republican and more radical than ever.
The majority of GOP nominees did not recognize Biden as the legitimate president. Many say the election was stolen. And a majority of returning Republicans voted to cancel the January 6 election — hours after a violent coup attempt.
All of the Republicans elected on Tuesday pledged to take a decisively different course from that set by Democrats and Biden. And with such an even but sharply divided Congress, consensus will be a difficult goal no matter who holds the majority.