Bolling: The Big Red Wave That Wasn’t

It is now the afternoon following Election Day, and we still have lots of unanswered questions. Here’s what we know … and what we don’t know:

• Many Republicans had hoped for a “big red wave.” That clearly did not happen. If anything, it was a “little red ripple.”

• Republicans underperformed when compared to averages in historic midterm elections. In the past 100 years, the presidential party in power has lost an average of 32 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and an average of 4 seats in the U.S. Senate. Republicans will not realize these kinds of gains in 2022, which they should have easily been able to achieve given President Biden’s abysmal approval ratings and the fact that the U.S. economy has hit the shoals on his watch.

• Republicans may still regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives, which is a significant accomplishment, but their majority will be fragile. Most observers had predicted a Republican majority with at least 220-230 seats. The actual majority will likely be much less than that.

• The balance of power in the U.S. Senate remains in doubt, with seriously flawed candidates costing the GOP any realistic chance of winning in key states like PA, NH, and AZ.

• The balance of power in the Senate will be determined by the outcome of ongoing vote counts in AZ and NV and a run-off election in GA on December 6th. To obtain a majority in the Senate, Republicans must win at least two of these remaining three “toss up” races, a tall order.

• In many states, GOP Senate candidates ran far behind GOP gubernatorial candidates who easily won reelection in their respective states. Examples include 1) Herschel Walker in Georgia, who ran 7% behind Republican Governor Brian Kemp; 2) J.D. Vance in Ohio, who appears to have won a close contest, but ran 20% behind Republican Governor Mike DeWine; and 3) Donald Bolduc in NH, who ran a whopping 24% behind Republican Governor Chris Sununu. Better candidates would have performed better in these states.

• Tuesday was a good day for Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Democrats picked up seats in MD and MA, and may pick up an additional seat in AZ. Races in NV and OR remain too close to call.

There will be much discussion about what went wrong for the GOP in 2022.

Did the nomination of some bad candidates hinder the GOP’s chances of winning the U.S. Senate?

Did the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade energize the Democratic vote?

Did the presence of former President Donald Trump on the campaign trail remind voters of how unpopular he was and remind them of why they voted the GOP out in 2018 and 2020?

Regardless of the cause, the 2022 midterms were not what the Republican Party had hoped for. While both parties had some victories and some defeats, Democrats appear to have dodged a proverbial political bullet, with many of the GOP’s wounds being clearly self-inflicted.

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