The ‘Red Wave’ that never happened – Balance of power in Congress still to be decided

Trump’s hand picked candidates lose and Democrats buck the historical trend and may hold onto the Senate

As of this moment Republicans continue to be the front-runners to take back the House, and they also have a chance to win the Senate. But the large red wave that some on the right had projected and that polls indicated did not occur.

For the Senate, in particular, this is true. Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman defeated Republican Mehmet Oz in the first significant-close race early on Wednesday. The majority would be decided by Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada, with each side needing to win two of them after other races followed the expected trends.

Republicans also lost the fight for the New Hampshire Senate, where Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) was perceived as a small favorite but became more and more vulnerable in the last weeks of the campaign. In Ohio and North Carolina, where J.D. Vance and Rep. Ted Budd respectively won, the GOP did manage to retain open seats.

As the night went on, it also became evident that the GOP’s chances of winning the House are far from certain. The majority of the close races were being won by Democrats, which is the antithesis of what often occurs in a wave election. Additionally, it briefly seemed as though the GOP would not even gain the majority, even though their control of the House is still the most likely result.

Results from the state legislative elections were favorable for Democrats, especially in the Midwest. They successfully flipped the state Senate in Minnesota, won complete control of Michigan for the first time since the early 1980s, prevented a GOP supermajority in Wisconsin’s legislature, and nearly won full control of Minnesota.

Like in 2020, a runoff election in Georgia may decide the U.S. Senate majority. Democrats look to be minor favorites for both Arizona and Nevada, which would effectively rule out that option if they win.

It would be just the sixth time in the past 100 years that the opposing party has failed to flip the Senate if Republicans fail to acquire the one seat they need to do it. Republicans won’t meet the opposition party’s historical average gain of 29 seats in House contests over the past 100 years.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) was one of the biggest victors Tuesday night since he won by a wide margin. With 93 percent of the votes counted, he was leading Rep. Charlie Crist (D) by about 20 points, a greater margin than almost any poll indicated at any point throughout the contest.

DeSantis’ resounding victory in what was, until recently, a swing state is undoubtedly the strongest indication to yet that he will be a serious contender for the Republican presidential nominee in 2024. With Trump calling DeSantis “DeSanctimonious” at a rally over the weekend and then ostensibly threatening DeSantis with opposition research on Tuesday, it is evident that the threat is growing. Those are hardly the behaviors of a former president who is filled with optimism about the future. Tuesday made it further clearer why he shouldn’t be. It should be an interesting fight to watch.

It’s important to note that Florida was a landslide for Republicans overall, across the board, which likely puts an end to any illusions about it still being a swing state.

But for Trump, things might not be over yet. He began using his influence in GOP primaries after his defeat in the 2020 election, partly to demonstrate that he was still in command. He ultimately succeeded in pushing several weak candidates through their primaries. With the possible exception of Nevada’s Adam Laxalt, each of the four Senate contests that are now in doubt has Trump-backed candidates. However, none of these candidates have a good reputation.

There will be (or at least ought to be) a reckoning about how that happened if Republicans fail to win the Senate. The biggest loss is Oz’s, as he likely wouldn’t have won his tight primary without Trump. Despite the fact that Herschel Walker was a poor candidate, Trump put him on a smooth path to the nomination. Additionally, people in Arizona were hesitant to cast ballots for Blake Masters.

It is quite evident that Republicans would have had a better chance in each of these situations if they had nominated a stronger, or even merely generic, candidate.

In a year where Republicans are expected to gain ground, swing states should trend Republican. But this close probably wasn’t necessary. And it appears extremely plausible that Trump cost his party a very winnable Senate majority, just as it did following the Georgia runoffs in 2020.

Trump-backed candidates also stood to lose in other crucial House toss-up contests that presented excellent pickup opportunities, such as those against Reps. Chris Pappas (D) and Marcy Kaptur (D), as well as in the open 13th District in North Carolina.

Trump was given a pass by the party after the Georgia 2020 runoffs, in part because no one wanted to cross him and in part because of how Jan. 6 changed everything. But what if they genuinely believe he endangered or even cost them a Senate majority, possibly a second time?

It appears that a number of other states may follow Kansas’ lead on abortion rights after it shocked the political community by resoundingly defeating a ballot initiative to repeal abortion protections in the state constitution this summer.

tracking outcomes in situations where access to abortion is at stake
As predicted, abortion rights were overwhelmingly added to the constitutions of Vermont and California on Tuesday. In Michigan, a similar proposal was approved by a vote of 56 percent to 44 percent.

The two red states of Kentucky and Montana also rejected anti-abortion legislation identical to the Kansas law, which is perhaps most notable. The Montana bill, which trails, would require health care practitioners to try to save any newborn born alive, including after attempted abortions. The Kentucky measure, which failed, would have made it clear that the state constitution does not provide a right to an abortion.

The election confirmed that ballot measures will be a major front in this conflict going ahead, which is bad news for the anti-abortion movement.

What about the general impact of abortion on the election? The great news for Dems on Tuesday was that many voters—almost 3 in 10—indicated that abortion rights was their top concern, which was virtually equal to the percentage of voters who said inflation.

Since the economy almost generally ranks first on people’s lists of worries, abortion ranking almost as high on the list of priorities as the most important economic issue (and the GOP’s top issue) would seem to have been a good thing for Democrats. However, on every other subject examined—crime, gun control, and immigration—voters had greater trust in the GOP.

Then why did Democrats outperform predictions on Tuesday?
The fact that Roe v. Wade was overturned undoubtedly played a contribution, giving the Democrats the voter participation fuel they had been lacking in an election with fundamentals that favored the other party. Democrats suddenly outperformed Republicans in every special election as a result of the court’s ruling, which became apparent nearly immediately after it was handed down.

However, this election was also about independents, not merely the relative size of the bases of the various parties. According to recent exit polls, independent voters supported Democrats by a margin of 49 to 47 percent.

Although it wasn’t a significant victory, it was extremely unusual for a midterm election. Independents have voted for the other party in each of the previous four midterm elections, but the GOP may end up losing them in this one. Even while midterm elections are typically a referendum on the party in power, this one was a choice election.

Tracking GOP candidates indicates that several election-deniers prevailed in Tuesday’s elections. But who are the most ardent election skeptics running to be in charge of elections? Voters were hesitant to give them positions of authority. And it appears as though they could lose handily.

The group of six candidates known as the America First Secretary of State Coalition has gone the furthest in their denial of the results of the 2020 election. Furthermore, there was a strong concern that if they won, they may use their position of influence to essentially prevent democratic elections.

Audrey Trujillo from New Mexico and Kristina Karamo from Michigan both lost as a result. Doug Mastriano, a failed candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, experienced the same thing (who was in the coalition because he would get to appoint the secretary of state). The results of the campaigns in Arizona and Nevada have not yet been declared, but Mark Finchem and coalition leader Jim Marchant, respectively, were well behind their fellow candidates.

Kim Crockett, a Minnesotan who has contested the outcome of the 2020 election but is not a part of the coalition, experienced the same thing. Tuesday saw a resounding loss for her. the coalition’s lone winner thus far? Diego Morales from Indiana. But that state is not a swing state.