The Red Wave That Never Reached the Beach

By Shawn Ness | November 14, 2022


Map of U.S. House Districts

Photo Credit: 270 To Win


The 2022 general elections were held on Tuesday; what most thought would be the great red wave to come and take control of the House and Senate, never reached the beach, as Democrats maintained control of the Senate with the victory of Catherine Cortez Masto.


There were two prominent reasons driving voter turnout, the most cited in exit polls were inflation and abortion, with crime following behind, despite Republicans' discussion of the subject. The key group that was driving Democrats to a better position than most political scientists thought were young voters under 30.


California, Michigan, Vermont, and Kentucky all approved amendments to their state constitutions that enshrined the right to an abortion. Kentucky rejected a constitutional amendment that would have outlawed abortions.


In New York, incumbent Kathy Hochul retained the governorship – beating out GOP Representative Lee Zeldin (NY-1) – to become the first female elected governor of the state. She took office in 2021 after her predecessor Andrew Cuomo resigned. She received 52.8% of the vote compared to Zeldin’s 47.2%. Had Zeldin won, he would have been the first Republican to take control of the state in 20 years.


“Speaking for the University at Albany College Republicans, I can say that while we are happy that New York has elected its first female governor, we wish that it was not Kathy Hochul,” Vice President of UAlbany College Republicans Club Kevin Waltz said. “We stand firm on our condemnation of Kathy Hochul's treatment of law-abiding gun owners and wish that more attention would be brought to the numerous scandals involving Hochul giving state contracts to her major donors. While we agree that Hochul's election was a victory for women in politics, we feel as though it is a major loss for New York.”


Incumbent Attorney General Letitia James was also reelected. Thomas DiNapoli also won his bid for reelection as the state’s Comptroller with 57% of the vote, beating out Republican challenger, Paul Rodrigues.


Sean Patrick Maloney, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) lost his bid to take hold of New York’s 17th Congressional District to Mike Lawler, a Republican assemblyman in a close race. Lawler narrowly won, receiving 50.5% of the vote compared to Maloney’s 49.5% of the vote. In Albany County, Paul Tonko retained his House seat with 55% of the vote. Republicans got a win in New York by reelecting Republican Elise Stefanik to the 21st House District; flipping the 19th district left vacant by Pat Ryan.


Marc Molinaro won the district with 51.1% of the vote. He lost a special election against Ryan in August. After the Supreme Court struck down the Democrats’ redistricting map, Ryan was relocated to the 18th district where he beat Assemblyman Colin Schmitt.


Proposal 1 included on the ballot, which would allow climate change bonds, passed with an overwhelming 67.7% of voters saying “Yes.”


In New York’s State Senate, Democrats control 38 seats, with most incumbents – both Democrats and Republicans – retaining their seats. In the State Assembly, Democrats control 99 of the seats, compared to Republicans 46.


In the Keystone state, Lt. Governor John Fetterman pulled out a win over TV Dr. Mehmet Oz in a hotly contested race to become Pennsylvania’s next senator. The Democrat win flipped the seat that was left vacant by Sen. Pat Toomey after he decided not to run for reelection. Josh Shapiro, the Democrat running for governor, defeated Doug Mastriano for control of the state.


Meanwhile, the senatorial election in Georgia between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker is headed to a runoff. Warnock won the two largest counties, Fulton and Cobb, by 49 and 16 points respectively. Warnock gained control of the seat in 2020 in another runoff election which he won with 51% of the vote.


With Masto’s victory of Adam Laxalt, Democrats have crossed the threshold of 50 seats to keep them in control of the Senate. A Democrat win in the Georgia runoff will add further to the advantage​​. Masto won with 48.77%, compared with Laxalt’s 48.11%.


In most midterm elections, the party in power sees significant losses in the House and Senate. Former President Donald Trump lost 40 seats in the house in 2018, Barack Obama lost 63 seats in the House in 2010, and George W. Bush lost 30 seats in 2006. All former presidents lost between 6-9 senators in the midterms as well, however, Trump gained two seats in the Senate in 2018.


Biden had an approval rating of 41% according to a collection of polls from FiveThirtyEight. Republicans were expecting a landslide of victories of 40 or more House seats and a narrow majority in the Senate. This is also the first election since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which likely encouraged many female swing voters and young voters in general.


Biden is looking at potentially 2 seats lost, and around 10 seats in the House.


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