Republicans underperformed in crucial Senate and House races, and Democrats were able to hold off an anticipated “red wave” in the midterm elections.
Several GOP candidates endorsed by former President Trump did not perform well, including Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, who lost to Pennsylvania’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. However, a handful of congressional seats are still too close to call as control over the House and Senate hangs in the balance.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio carried the state of Florida by historical margins. DeSantis’ victory has led many pundits and insiders to speculate he may challenge Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.
The results also favor President Biden to remain the Democratic presidential nominee while his party continues to advocate for pro-choice issues at the ballot box. For Georgia, Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will likely head to a runoff election next month that may decide which party controls the Senate.
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1. Trump had a bad night
Trump’s endorsement was considered essential for Republican contenders in GOP Senate and House primaries across the country. However, in Tuesday’s midterms, many of the candidates handpicked by the former president lost their races.
GOP Pennsylvania gubernatorial contender Doug Mastriano was defeated by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro by over 13 points. In June, former reality TV host Dr. Oz won his party’s primary by less than a thousand votes over former Bush administration treasury official Dave McCormick. Trump campaigned for Oz and was seen as the decisive factor that pulled him across the primary finish line. The race between Oz and Fetterman was the most expensive of the election cycle, but the Democratic Senate nominee flipped the seat blue by making inroads with suburban voters.
Defeats continued in the New Hampshire Senate election with Trump nominee Don Bolduc losing to Democratic incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan by over nine points. In the hours after the race was called, Trump distanced himself from Bolduc, claiming the candidate lost because he did not advocate the issue of voter fraud in the 2020 election enough.
Trump candidates also lost in several House races, including Republican Bo Himes falling to Democrat Wiley Nicken in North Carolina’s 13th District. DeSantis’ 20-point blowout of Democrat gubernatorial challenger Charlie Crist makes the Florida governor Trump’s biggest potential rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
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Regardless, Trump is expected to announce his third presidential bid later this month. On the eve of the midterm elections, Trump told a crowd of thousands at an Ohio rally that he would make a “big announcement” Tuesday, Nov. 15, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
2. Democrats emboldened for 2024
Entering the midterm elections, Biden’s declining approval numbers amid rising inflation had many pundits questioning whether Democrats would nominate the 46th president for the 2024 presidential race. Some are speculating California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom would be a formidable challenger to Biden.
However, many of those notions were dismissed Tuesday night after Democrats flipped Pennsylvania blue. Not only is Pennsylvania Biden’s native state, but the president actively campaigned in the race with Fetterman, including at a rally alongside former President Obama a week before Election Day. Democratic Senate incumbents in Georgia and Arizona are also performing well against pro-Trump challengers, which indicates Democrats can successfully win elections when they align themselves with Biden.
3. Pro-life loses at the ballot box
Following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade this summer, ballot measures protecting access to abortion won in Michigan, California, Vermont, Montana and Kentucky. Many of the states, such as Michigan and California, passed abortion initiatives by double digits.
Even in Republican-dominated states Kentucky and Montana, voters struck down by overwhelming numbers pro-life initiatives.
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“Democracy wasn’t on the ballot, but abortion was, and it seems that the democracy has spoken in favor of abortion,” Adrian Vermeule, a conservative legal scholar at Harvard University, said in a tweet Wednesday.
4. Florida goes deep red
In Florida, Republicans had landslide victories in the gubernatorial and Senate races with DeSantis and Rubio. DeSantis flipped the longtime Democratic stronghold of Miami-Dade County red for the first time in two decades. Previously, DeSantis lost the county to former Democratic challenger Andrew Gillium by more than 20 points, and Rubio also fell short of a victory in Miami-Dade six years ago by 11 points.
DeSantis on Tuesday defeated Crist in the South Florida county by winning 55.3% of the votes. The change came in part due to Hispanic voters switching their preference to the Republican incumbents.
“It’s great to be here gathered in the red county of Miami-Dade,” Rubio said during his victory speech Tuesday evening.
During presidential and statewide elections, Florida for decades was considered a purple state capable of switching from party to party, but Republican gains on Tuesday indicate the Sunshine State is staying red.
5. Georgia headed to a runoff
The state of Georgia could be the deciding race that determines if Republicans or Democrats hold a majority in the Senate. As of Wednesday, neither incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock nor Republican outsider Herschel Walker have a clear majority to avoid a runoff next month.
The race is still too close to call, according to the Fox News Decision Desk. Warnock maintains a lead over Walker of 35,000 votes with 49.4% of the vote. Walker has 48.52% of the vote with 97.94% of precincts reporting.
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Unlike other states, Georgia law requires that a candidate surpass the 50% majority threshold to win an election before a runoff is called. The runoff in this race will happen Dec. 6 if nothing changes.