Red wave crashes into blue wall: Five key takeaways from a bombshell midterm elections night

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John Fetterman (left) and Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) (right)

Red wave crashes into blue wall: Five key takeaways from a bombshell midterm elections night

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As the midterm elections come to a close and several key races remain undecided, it is evident that the predicted red wave did not strike as hard as Republicans had hoped.

Republicans are poised to flip the House, with the GOP holding 199 seats compared to Democrats holding 172 as of 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning. A total of 218 seats are needed for a majority.

The Senate still remains a toss up, as races are still too close to call in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Wisconsin. So far, there are 48 Democrats (including two independents) and 48 Republicans holding seats in the Senate.

While neither side had an overwhelming victory, here are five key takeaways from the midterm elections night.

Democrats hold the line

Democratic voters showed up to support their candidates for the 2022 midterm elections, as demonstrated by record-breaking turnout across the nation. In doing so, several projected bellwether races ended in the Democrats’ favor.

Sen. Maggie Hassan defeated Republican challenger Don Bolduc, despite being considered a vulnerable incumbent. With 81.1% of the votes counted, she won reelection with 54.2% of the vote, compared to Bolduc’s 43.8%. Libertarian candidate Jeremy Kauffman won 2.0% of the vote.

Democrats held back a red tsunami coming for Pennsylvania, regarded as one of the toughest battleground races for the 2022 election cycle. In a significant win for Democrats, John Fetterman beat out Republican Mehmet Oz and flipped the Senate seat blue. Fetterman outperformed Oz marginally, receiving 50.2% of the vote compared to Oz’s 47.4%. However, many polls had predicted a narrower win for either candidate.

Other notable Democrat wins include Wes Moore, who made history by becoming Maryland’s first black governor, bringing the governorship back into Democratic hands after Republican Gov. Larry Hogan held the office for two terms. Moore defeated Trump-endorsed candidate Del. Dan Cox, despite never holding public office before.

In another victory, Democrat Maura Healey was elected governor of Massachusetts, making U.S. history as the first openly lesbian governor.

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Senior Republicans hold on

Several states were not ready to let go of their longtime senators, with Republican voters rallying around their candidates to send them to another term.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) won reelection against Democratic challenger Mike Franken. Grassley, 89, held the lead over Franken during the race, but Franken closed the gap more than any other candidate in recent years. At one point, Grassley had only an eight-point lead over his Democratic opponent.

Wisconsin’s Senate race has not yet been called, but Sen. Ron Johnson (R), who has been in office since 2010, is holding a slight lead over Mandela Barnes with 50.6% of the vote compared to Barnes’s 49.4% with 98.6% of the votes counted. Johnson told supporters in Neenah that, while he was not declaring victory just yet, “I want to give you folks a sense that this race is over.”

Arizona races up in the air

Arizona is once again in the spotlight as both the Senate and governor’s races are too close to call. The state had no shortage of complications from the beginning of Tuesday’s Election Day, with voting tabulators malfunctioning and other technical problems in Maricopa County causing several voters to be turned away and sent to other polling locations.

Republicans had filed an emergency motion to increase voting to 10 p.m., but it was denied by a judge.

The county is well known as a target for those who claim the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, a contention at least suggested by Arizona Republican candidates Blake Masters and Kari Lake. Masters, who is facing incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D), and Lake, who is racing against Katie Hobbs for governor, are both slightly behind their Democratic opponents.

Kelly holds a lead of 52.0% over Masters’s 45.9%, with 62.7% of the votes in the state counted. Hobbs’s lead over Lake is even tighter, holding 50.9% of the vote compared to Lake’s 49.1%.

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Trump’s picks fall short

Despite the former president endorsing candidates in all levels of government, several fell short of their expected performance by the GOP.

GOP leaders began the 2022 election cycle hoping centrist candidates, such as Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona, Larry Hogan of Maryland, and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, would run for Senate. However, all three declined, and the Republican Party was off to find candidates that would upset their Democratic opponents, resulting in several extremist candidates backed by Trump to sail through the primaries. The Democratic Party took advantage of this by bombarding voters with ads and campaigns painting Republicans as being against democracy itself.

And it paid off. Alongside Hassan beating Bolduc and Fetterman beating Oz (two Trump-backed candidates), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defeated Tudor Dixon, a vocal Trump supporter whom the former president endorsed four days before the election. Dixon trailed behind Whitmer significantly in the polls, which could be attributed to her late start in the race after several Republican candidates were disqualified for fraudulent signatures.

Gov. Tony Evers beat Trump-endorsed Republican Tim Michels, 51.1% to 47.9% of the vote. Evers said to supporters after he was declared the winner that voters proved they wanted to “protect democracy.” Michels, along with casting doubt on President Joe Biden’s 2020 win, had said he favored disbanding the state’s bipartisan elections commission and would sign bills making it harder to vote absentee.

Despite key losses, Trump did have his fair share of victories in Ohio, with the election of J.D. Vance over Democrat Tim Ryan, 53.3% to 46.7%, and Republican Katie Britt, who will be Alabama’s next senator after defeating Will Boyd in a landslide with 66.8% of the vote compared to Boyd’s 30.9%.

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Georgia poised for runoff

Georgia was projected to be a close race from the beginning between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Republican nominee Herschel Walker. The race has not been called as of Wednesday morning, with analysts expecting a runoff to decide Georgia’s next senator.

Who held the lead shifted back and forth over the course of Tuesday night, with both holding 49.0% of the vote at one point. Warnock now holds a slight lead with 49.4% compared to Walker’s 48.5%, with 97.9% of the votes counted.

If Walker wins, it could be the key to Republicans flipping the Senate. If the GOP wins Wisconsin, Republicans will need to flip two of three Senate seats — Arizona, Georgia, or Nevada — to gain the majority. So far, Republicans only have a slight lead in Nevada, with Adam Laxalt holding 49.9% of the vote compared to Catherine Cortez Masto’s 47.2%.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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