2022 Midterm review

The past 2022 Midterms were extremely important as well as widely controversial. Hear what Kleinman has to say on their results and what they mean for the nation.

Graphic by Tillie Szwartz ’25/Staff

The 2022 midterms took place on November 8, and they were certainly a midterm to remember. But contrary to predictions, they were not a startling rebuke of the incumbent party. Rather, they served as warnings to both sides, or indeed, every side. I write the previous sentence because America is clearly heading towards the end of an outdated, at best suffocating, at worst democracy imperiling, two party system. Or at the very least the two party system as we know it. The two party system has been on the ropes since the late 1980’s when Reagan’s conservative policies began to accelerate northern, Liberal, Republicans assimilation to the democratic party, while southern, Conservative, Dixiecrats joined the Republicans. This created a system where both parties generally considered themselves closer politically to those of their own party, rather than any of the perceived “moderates’’ of their former party.

The midterm elections of 2022 were a rebuke to Biden. Sure, Democrats can point to a potentially expanded Senate majority, pending the Georgia runoff election. And Democrats can also point to an extremely close result in the House of Representatives. But overall, as with many midterms, the President’s party proved unpopular. Yet, the Republicans who won clearly differentiate themselves from those who lost. For example, in Georgia, an election affirming Republican easily won re-election over would-be rising star Stacy Abrams. But in the Georgia Senate race, incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock won a plurality of the vote against election denying Herschel Walker. This clearly indicates that a sizable portion of Republicans split their ballots, with some estimates pointing to nearly one-in-ten Republicans having done so. In Maryland and Massachusetts, Republicans nominated election deniers who were blown out by their Democratic opponents, flipping two governors races. Far-right Republicans also got swept in Arizona, with the governor, secretary of state, and Senate races being won by Democrats. In Michigan, incumbent democrat Gretchen Whitmer trounced election denying Tudor Dixon, while in neighboring Ohio, election affirming Republican incumbent Mike DeWine crushed his Democratic opponent. The pattern is clear. Election denialists lost big in key swing states around the nation, greatly harming former president Trump’s efforts to overturn any potential loss in 2024. Democrats had their own fair share of nominees who were clearly too far out of the mainstream. In Oregon, Democrats narrowly won the governor’s race in what is usually a very blue state, and lost a house district when a progressive bested the incumbent moderate Democrat in the primary. In Wisconsin, it seems that Republican Senator Ron Johnson tied Mandela Barnes to his previous support for the “defund the police’’ movement, effectively portraying him as a radical en route to a tight victory (the margin is within one percent). Perhaps the greatest winner of the 2022 midterms however, is the Republican incumbent Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. DeSantis annihilated his Democratic opponent, winning nearly 60% of the vote and likely removing the possibility of Florida electing a Democrat statewide for decades. He won traditionally blue counties in the state, including Miami-Dade, the most populous county in the state. Additionally, he did this while winning over many Latinos at the same time as he paid private companies to fly migrants from the border to “sanctuary cities,” including Philadelphia. When Trump announced his attempt at a political comeback, a return to the presidency, he did so while slamming potential primary opponents such as DeSantis or a similarly  Trumpist-without-the-Trump Glenn Youngkin. 

Altogether, Democrats and Republicans both have major issues to address before 2024. For the Democrats, it is making sure that voters of color don’t feel ignored or taken for granted by a party that almost exclusively won their votes in the 2010’s. For the Republicans, it is increasingly about determining how close to Trump they want to be tied. In my opinion, any policies of Trump, especially concerning diversity of thought or action, are antithetical to American Democracy. Trump launched an attack on the Capitol by whipping his followers up into a frenzy, and will no doubt attempt to launch
something similar again should he lose as the Republican nominee. Trump has a history of claiming that elections he loses are fraudulent, beginning with the Iowa primary in 2016, and of course most notably in 2020. Trump is arguably the greatest threat to American Democracy, greater even than foreign adversaries such as Russia. Trump, when announcing his run to once again be president, laid out the bare bones of a horrifying platform. One that would eliminate mail-in voting, while also creating new laws to suppress voters, especially voters of color. He mused about implementing the death penalty on those caught with drugs, and contemplated putting his opponents in jail. Trump lashed out at the “fake news” and the “fake polls.” Polls that were remarkably accurate up until the last week of the campaign, when Republican polls rapidly pushed the expectations for Republicans skyward. Trump also hinted at his plans to crack down on those who would inevitably protest against a would-be second Trump administration. A second Trump administration would be more focused on revenge than policy, as evidenced by Trump’s fixation on the 2020 election, which he continues to deny that he lost. Thus, the midterms, while certainly a loss for Democrats in the house, was also a warning to Republicans looking towards 2024. Extremism in an attack on liberty is a vice, and moderation in the pursuit of safety is a virtue.

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