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The Day After The 2022 Midterms—And A Sigh Of Relief For Democrats

Democrats fared far better in Tuesday’s voting than many pundits expected.

crowd celebrates John Fetterman’s Senate win in Pennsylvania
Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Yesterday did not go as many analysts expected, and not nearly as the GOP had hoped.

The Blue Sea Wall of early voters, which I wrote about earlier this week, apparently held well against the fabled Red Wave, which never gained enough height on Tuesday to swamp the Democrats. This was due in part to high turnout among Gen Z on Election Day and a general electorate not quite prepared to elect the most extreme elements of the Republican Party into statewide office.

So where do things stand today?

As I discussed in my piece on Tuesday, Election Day really is just part of Election Week, and it now appears likely that we will have an Election Month that will feel like a condensed repeat of 2020.

Let’s take a look.

The Senate

The big and welcome surprise for Democrats was the flipping of Pennsylvania’s senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Late last night, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman became Senator-elect Fetterman by defeating Trump-endorsed candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Fetterman is up by three points as of Wednesday morning, with votes still remaining to be counted in Democratic strongholds in and around Philadelphia.

That victory meant the Democrats picked up one senate seat while so far losing none, a remarkable achievement. Two seats targeted by the GOP—Sen. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire and Sen. Mark Kelly in Arizona—went the Democrats’ way, though they are still counting ballots in Arizona and have not officially declared a winner.

On this most are confident he will prevail: Kelly is up by 6 points and over 100,000 votes, with 62 percent of the votes counted and his home base around Tucson still out with a large share of votes.

That left the GOP with the unenviable task of having to flip both of the other Democratic seats in Nevada and Georgia.

Presently, as the votes are still being counted, both are razor thin races. In Nevada, GOP challenger Adam Laxalt currently leads Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto by around 23,000 votes, but there are possibly as many as 40,000 or so net votes for Cortez Masto still to be added to her total.

These comprise the uncounted mail-in and dropbox votes in Clark and Washoe counties, according to The New York Times. If those come in heavily for Cortez Masto, she would inch to victory there.

For what it’s worth, if there are indeed some 100,000 mail in ballots left to count this week from Clark County and another 16,000 from Washoe County, election prognosticator Jon Ralston, who has an uncanny record for picking the winners in the Silver State, believes Cortez Masto could come back to win it.

This is important.

If later this week Cortez Masto is able to make up that 23,000 vote difference (thanks to the ground game of what’s called the Reid Machine, named after her late political mentor, the great Harry Reid), and Nevada manages to stay blue, then control of the senate will already be in the bag even before the run-off in Georgia happens.

The Governor Races and the New Trifectas

The big news came out of the swing states again, with election deniers in the GOP going down to defeat in the key states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The governor races in battlegrounds of Arizona and Nevada are too close to call, where extremist MAGA candidates are trying to win statewide offices.

If the Nevada numbers go as the election data wonks currently predict, and if Kari Lake in Arizona can’t find more net votes among the still uncounted ballots in mostly Maricopa and Pima counties to make up the current difference between her and Democrat Katie Hobbs, the 2022 general election will be remembered as an across-the-board thumping of election deniers in the key swing states.

As things stand, it’s more or less a toss-up.

Among the 2020 swing states, as of Wednesday morning only Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia so far has won his election. And for all his terrible positions on abortion and his voter suppression agenda, voters there remember him for standing up to Donald Trump in the 2020 election and preventing the state of Georgia from becoming a bigger flashpoint in that election.

In the upper midwest, Democrats are celebrating huge wins in Michigan and Minnesota where voters have handed both the governorships and the legislatures over to the Democrats, creating blue trifectas in those states.

They now join the coastal West and upper East states in having unified Democratic government. In heavily gerrymandered Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers won his reelection bid and, importantly, voters denied the GOP a veto-proof supermajority in the state assembly.

This means democracy can limp forward in that state another four years and, crucially, through the 2024 presidential election, where state governors are likely to have ultimate say over certification of the state wide electoral count.

The news wasn’t all great, of course.

Democrats took a beating in Florida, losing all statewide races by far wider margins than the polls had even indicated and even losing the Latino vote and Miami-Dade County.

In Texas, Gov. Abbott defeated Beto O’Rourke, but Democrats showed renewed resilience along the southern border, indicating that the state is still in flux and that Latino voters still favored Democrats in the Rio Grande valley.

And blue state governors like New York’s Kathy Hochul, whom many warned was in trouble, wound up cruising to victory.

The House

Kevin McCarthy’s victory party was abandoned early in the night as it became clear this was no red wave rout in the House. While Democrats lost some close races in New Jersey and Virginia and remain in close battles in New York, they flipped seats in Ohio and Michigan while holding on to key seats in places like New Hampshire.

There are many races that are still being tallied, and currently the Democrats have some 172 seats to the Republicans’ 197, with 218 the magic number for either side. Given the distance Democrats need to travel to do that, it’s still more likely than not that the Republicans will wind up in control of the House.

But as I’ve said earlier, it matters a great deal what the margin of that control will be. If the GOP had devastated the Democrats, then their platform of grievance and extremism might have gotten a much-feared boost.

But because they greatly underperformed expectations and are struggling to get to that majority, this could give more moderate voices in the party greater sway.

After all, you can’t have things like endless investigations, hearings and impeachments if you also have a bunch of GOP moderates in swing districts saying that maybe the party should focus on inflation and bipartisan solutions.

Nor will it be as easy for the House to hold the entire country hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, as a few vulnerable swing district GOP House members might not so readily agree to that plan.

We’ll know a lot more about the actual state of House control in a few days. Many of the races still to be called are out West, where it takes days to count the mail-in ballots, which tend to favor the Democrats.

For now, hang tight, congratulate the Dems on not just getting through a harrowing midterm but coming out looking strong, and check back here in the coming days, as we might see some decent news soon coming out of the Western states as they continue their vote counts!