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2022 midterm elections: What to know
- Republicans appeared poised to win control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections. But a significant “red wave” did not materialize on election night, as races continue to be tabulated.
- Control of the Senate also remains unclear, but John Fetterman boosted Democrats’ chances by defeating Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. As of 2 a.m. ET, key Senate races in Georgia and Wisconsin remained too close to call and races in Arizona and Nevada were too early to call, according to NBC News.
- In high-profile races for governor, Republicans Brian Kemp of Georgia and Gregg Abbott of Texas won re-election. Democrat Kathy Hochul was re-elected in New York, while Democrat Josh Shapiro defeated Republican Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania.
Control of the House and the Senate? TBD
After John Fetterman’s victory over Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Democrats can retain control of the U.S. Senate by winning just two more races.
Five Senate races have yet to be called by NBC News: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin and Alaska. Democratic incumbents are running for re-election in Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. So it is certainly possible that Democrats could hold on to their Senate majority.
NBC News’ latest forecast model for the House suggests the GOP will still seize control when counting is complete — it needs 218 seats to win the majority. But Republican predictions of a massive “red wave” have not materialized.
Come back to msnbc.com/midterms beginning at 7 a.m. ET for more live election results and expert analysis.
The 2024 whispers get louder
Coming into Election Day, Donald Trump was feeling confident. He teased a "very big announcement" on Nov. 15 that felt like a possible 2024 campaign kickoff. But Tuesday's results — in particular, the strength of Republican candidates in Florida and the relative weakness of MAGA candidates elsewhere — may take some of the wind out of the former president's sails. At least for now.
As Noah Rothman wrote earlier, "DeSantis is politically savvy enough to know that this is his moment. He has to know that new stars like Arizona’s Kari Lake are coming up behind him fast. He must know that it’s probably now or never. But if DeSantis decides to enter the national political arena in 2023, Florida’s voters have made his opening argument for him."
Fetterman says he ran for everyone who ‘ever felt left behind’
In his victory speech early Wednesday, John Fetterman began with mock surprise.
“What is it, it’s like 1:30 in the morning and you’re still here hanging in?” he said to supporters.
The Democrat, who defeated celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in their U.S. Senate race, spoke in Pittsburgh for about seven minutes.
“This race is for the future of every community all across Pennsylvania,” he said, “for every small town or person that ever felt left behind.”
Watch more of Fetterman’s remarks below.
Voters in Missouri and Maryland say yes to recreational marijuana
Maryland and Missouri have become the 20th and 21st states in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana, according to NBC News projections. Voters in three other states — North Dakota, South Dakota and Arkansas — did not approve legalization measures on Tuesday’s ballot, per NBC.
According to an AP-NORC survey, about 6 in 10 voters support national legalization of recreational marijuana.
The debatable impact of the Fetterman-Oz debate
Fetterman’s debate against Oz in the final stretch of the campaign has sparked a lot of, well, debate. Some pundits called it “painful to listen to,” inviting accusations of ableism and insensitivity. Recovery from a recent stroke has made speech and auditory processing difficult for Fetterman, and that was apparent in the debate. But supporters suggested that Fetterman’s decision to face those struggles publicly would invite empathy and understanding from anyone who had similarly struggled to overcome difficulties.
There’s also a larger piece of context for Fetterman’s decision to show up: political candidates can be notoriously debate-averse. Until recently, it wasn’t that uncommon for frontrunners in presidential primaries to blow off debates. In 1960, people said Richard Nixon looked sweaty and had a five o’clock shadow, and there weren’t any more presidential debates for 16 years. (As an incumbent president, Nixon declined to debate in 1972 because he said the president’s words were policy and thus it was not appropriate to debate.) Debates are easy to roll your eyes at, with their canned questions and pat answers. But they do have an element of unpredictability, and politicians have often tried to avoid them, even when they’re not recovering from a major neurological event. Food for thought as Fetterman celebrates his win with supporters this morning.
Democrat Josh Green wins in the Hawaii governor’s race
Democrat Josh Green has won in the Hawaii governor’s race, NBC News projects. He defeats Republican Duke Aiona.
Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz wins re-election in Hawaii
Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz has won re-election in Hawaii, NBC News projects. He defeats Republican Bob McDermott.
Democrats continue to overperform in House races
Last month, FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich picked the race between Democrat Wiley Nickel and Republican Bo Hines in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District as a likely bellwether in the race for control of the House. Nickel looks set to prevail by more than two percentage points. Democrats have already flipped a House seat in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District and may flip another in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District . Another close race in Indiana’s 1st Congressional District looks likely to go blue. Perhaps most shocking of all, hard-right Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., still trails in her re-election bid with 81% of the vote counted.
Not everything’s gone the Democrats’ way: Things still might go south for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in New York, and Rep. Tom Malinowski appears likely to lose in New Jersey. But the fact that we’re past midnight and the balance of power in the House is still in doubt is not an outcome that many political prognosticators would have expected.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wins re-election in Michigan
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has won re-election in Michigan, NBC News projects. She defeats Republican Tudor Dixon.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wins re-election in Wisconsin
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has won re-election in Wisconsin, NBC News projects. He defeats Republican Tim Michels.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee wins re-election in Utah
Republican Sen. Mike Lee has won re-election in Utah, NBC News projects. He defeats Democrat Evan McMullin.
When the president’s party doesn’t tank in the midterms
It’s much too early to say anything for sure, but some commentators are throwing out the possibility that this will be the best midterm election cycle for a president’s party since 2002. For months, this possibility has been floated around, which points to the question of why some elections have been able to break this midterm curse.
Two related factors are at work: presidential popularity and exceptional circumstances. In 1998, Bill Clinton’s approval rating was over 60% for most of the year. The economy was strong and Clinton benefited from another exception and unexpected circumstance — he was being impeached by Congress, and the American public wasn’t really having it. The 1998 midterms were widely seen as a rebuke of that impeachment.
In 2002, George W. Bush also enjoyed high approval, and the nation was still feeling the effects of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Bush and the Republicans had effectively defined the attacks and the subsequent war on terror, and the Democrats had little to offer to compete with Republicans on that terrain.
In 2022, it’s certainly not the case that Biden’s approval numbers are good. But there are so many exceptional circumstances that it’s kind of tough to keep track of them all — the Jan. 6 hearings, the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago back in August, the continued presence of Trump on the political scene, the lingering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and, perhaps most prominent in election decisions, the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The 2022 results have followed a pattern
In many ways, American party politics has become a lot less surprising. There are fewer competitive states than there were 50 years ago, and it’s hard for candidates to overcome basic partisan leanings. Candidate quality, experience, and even national conditions don’t seem to matter as much as party.
Political geography seems similarly calcified — rural areas have turned Republican, while cities, for the most part, are deep blue. This means that the handful of competitive areas — sometimes House districts, sometimes whole states — can come down to incredibly tight margins, and it seems like anything and everything can make the difference.
So far, the 2022 results are following this pattern, with very few surprises. For the Senate anyway, the competitive races that have been called have mostly been victories for the incumbent party, and in line with how each state voted in the 2020 presidential race. But control of both the House and the Senate remains unclear, and with close races determining control of both chambers, it seems like anyone’s guess who will win and what factors will make the difference.
'Pretty stunning': Fox News host reacts to midterm results
Pennsylvania progressive fends off AIPAC attack
Summer Lee won’t be the only progressive freshman in the 118th Congress. The incoming congresswoman from Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District will be joined by Texas’ Greg Casar, Illinois' Delia Ramirez and Florida’s Maxwell Frost, among others. But what’s extra notable about Lee is who tried to beat her.
Since Lee announced her campaign, she was a top target of the United Democracy Project, the political action committee for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. After spending $3 million to defeat her in the Democratic primary, the UDP spent hundreds of thousands more against her in the general election. The intervention in a Democrat vs. Republican contest was all but unprecedented for AIPAC, long one of the most prominent organizations in a studiously bipartisan Israel lobby. But in recent years, thanks in no small part to Benjamin Netanyahu’s embrace of Republicans, Democrats have become more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Don’t be surprised if that trend continues.
Two tweets that sum up Election Day for Republicans
How it started:
How it’s going:
For context: Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, won her South Texas seat in a special election this year that was seen as a bad sign for Democrats in the midterms. NBC News projected earlier tonight that she would lose her race to Democrat Vincent Gonzalez.
Fetterman’s roller coaster journey to the Senate
A lot was riding on Democrat John Fetterman’s run for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat. Now that he’s defeated celebrity doctor-turned MAGA convert Mehmet Oz, as NBC News projects, Democrats are surely breathing a sigh of relief: Democratic control of the Senate remains in sight.
As Zeeshan Aleem writes, "Fetterman’s campaign came to be defined less by his policy platform than his clash with Oz, who, as a polished celebrity doctor, was a striking political foil." But in the end, Oz hitching his platform to Donald Trump, and earning a Trump endorsement in the process, was not the right move for Pennsylvania voters.
Democrat John Fetterman defeats Mehmet Oz in PA Senate race
Democrat John Fetterman wins Pennsylvania Senate race, defeating Republican Mehmet Oz, NBC News projects.
Kevin McCarthy must be sweating bullets right now
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., can’t be happy as the results are pouring in. Not only is the “red wave” that was supposed to make him speaker of the House not materializing, the NBC News Decision Desk says that we won’t know who controls the House tonight. Tellingly, the victory party at McCarthy’s headquarters more or less ended by around 9 p.m. local time.
The Decision Desk’s model still projects that the GOP will win the House, but the margin will likely be thin. The model predicts 219 seats for Republicans — a literal one vote majority. (The model also currently has a margin of error of +/- 13 seats.) That is not the massive majority the GOP anticipated when polls closed. And given how Republicans have a habit of metaphorically cannibalizing their leaders at the best of times, McCarthy can’t be excited to wrangle a caucus where every vote counts. If the Decision Desk’s projection holds, McCarthy may wind up holding the speaker’s gavel next year, but how long that lasts will be much more of an open question.
In North Carolina, Democrats’ hopes are dashed again
Democratic hopes of a Senate pick-up in North Carolina have been dashed again, just like they were in 2020. This time, there’s not a dramatic story of an affair over text messages, just a close race that drew less national attention than some of the other competitive Senate contests.
But this has been the story for Democrats ever since 2008, when Obama won the state and the late Kay Hagan defeated Elizabeth Dole for the Senate. Obama couldn’t replicate his success there in 2012, and Hagan, like many Democrats, went down to defeat in 2014.
The idea was that the state, particularly its growing “research triangle,” would have the kind of diverse and college-educated electorate that has turned neighboring states — like Georgia or Virginia — at least light blue. So far, this has worked at the state level — with Governor Roy Cooper elected twice — better than at the Senate or presidential level, where neither Hillary Clinton in 2016 nor Joe Biden at 2020 were able to fulfill expectations of winning the state.
Tim Ryan winks at election denialism in concession speech
Is Trump the biggest loser of the night?
If Republicans underperform nationally, DeSantis will be well-positioned to make the case that the GOP should close the Trump chapter for good and turn to him to lead the party into the future. Florida appears to be a very positive outlier for Republicans. Trump may well be the biggest loser of the night.
Democrats lose case to extend polling hours in Nevada
Just as Arizona Republicans struck out with their effort to extend polling hours in Maricopa County this evening, so too did Democrats with a similar effort in Nevada’s most populous county, Clark County.
Specifically, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, locked in a tight reelection battle with the state's former attorney general Adam Laxalt, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee alleged that “multiple polling locations in Clark County experienced delays and long lines due to polling locations running out of printer paper in the ballot printers.” Although Cortez Masto and the DSCC detailed how many printers were inoperative and how long wait times were at specific polling places, the court denied the emergency request.
However, because Nevada law allows anyone who was in line by 7 p.m. to vote, the reported thousands of voters who got in line and stayed there will have their votes counted.
Why 'progressive prosecutor' wins in the Heartland matter
The effort to elect progressive prosecutors picked up two significant wins tonight, a counterpoint to lots of the national reporting on criminal justice politics.
What’s more, the wins were not on the coasts, but rather, right in the middle of the country.
The largest counties in Minnesota and Iowa — Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, and Polk County, which includes Des Moines, respectively — elected former criminal defense lawyers to run their county prosecutor’s offices.
Mary Moriarty will be the next Hennepin County Attorney — a role occupied by Sen. Amy Klobuchar before she won a seat in the U.S. Senate. Moriarty, a decades-long public defender, was running in a race that the deputy director of the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis told Bolts was a “referendum on what we want to do as a community moving forward since George Floyd was murdered.”
In a sign of how Moriarty’s opponent, Martha Holton Dimick, viewed the experience of a public defender, in their debate, Dimick said her experience as a former prosecutor under Klobuchar and later judge was better than Moriarty’s because Moriarty “has just worked with criminals.”
Tonight, though, Moriarty won.
In Iowa, Kimberly Graham — who has experience as a criminal defense and juvenile lawyer — won election as Polk County Attorney on Tuesday in a campaign where she focused on promoting substantial reforms, including decreasing the use of cash bail. She defeated Republican Allan Richards.
“I’m running for Polk County Attorney so I can help create an equitable and effective justice system,” Graham said of her campaign, “where we seek to end racial and income disparities, we invest in our kids because no kid is disposable, and we use evidence-based policies to create a safe, healthy community.”
Abortion rights propositions win big tonight
California and Michigan joined Vermont in enshrining abortion rights in their state constitution tonight in the latest example of a backlash against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade.
California passed legislation to send the amendment to voters after the court struck down Roe. The move is also an undoubted boon to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has attempted to make California a progressive haven.
“The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives,” the text of the amendment reads.
Michigan’s referendum also would protect constitutional rights in the state and it offered a boost to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is seeking re-election in Michigan.
“An individual’s right to reproductive freedom shall not be denied, burdened, nor infringed upon unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means,” the text reads.
Michigan also has a constitutional amendment referendum while down in deeply Republican Kentucky, voters appear to be slightly pushing back on a constitutional amendment that says that the state constitution does not guarantee a right to an abortion
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont wins re-election in Connecticut
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont wins re-election in Connecticut, NBC News projects.
Tim Ryan follows the maverick playbook, still loses
After the 2016 election and the Democrats’ surprise losses in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, some commentators offered advice: Abandon cultural issues and so-called “identity politics,” and pay attention to Trump’s success with white working-class voters in those areas. This advice boiled down to taking a more protectionist stance on trade, talking about jobs, and tacking to the center on culture questions.
Tim Ryan has made a point to do all of those things, and throughout his Senate campaign has stressed all the ways that he’s broken with the Biden administration and his party. But he still lost in Ohio, to a political newcomer.
It’s possible that Ryan got closer than nearly any another Democrat would have. But his loss calls into question whether the strategy is a truly winning formula for Democrats.
Trump's weight on GOP candidates is obvious
The weight of Trump on Republican candidates in general elections is obvious with Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Bolduc in New Hampshire going down and with Herschel Walker in Georgia receiving significantly fewer votes so far than Gov. Brian Kemp, who won re-election tonight. There is a clear cost to election dishonesty.
The final moments of the Mastriano campaign
Behold: The final moments of the Mastriano campaign. This video was captured just over an hour before Mastriano’s opponent, Josh Shapiro, was announced the projected winner of Pennsylvania's gubernatorial match-up.
Mastriano, a Christian nationalist and election denier, won’t be governor. But he might want to call up the Philadelphia 76ers pep squad — those throws were impressive.
Lindsay Graham: 'Definitely not a Republican wave'
We’ve been saying over the last few hours that the odds of tonight being a “red wave” for Republicans seem to be dwindling. Looking at the results in New Hampshire, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is thinking the same.
As he told NBC News:
What Brian Kemp’s déjà vu win over Stacey Abrams means for voting rights
Certainly nothing good, writes Hayes Brown. Among Kemp’s accomplishments is signing “a law that Kemp defends as making it ‘easy to vote and hard to cheat,’” Brown writes. "Kemp has cited high turnout ahead of Election Day as a sign that the law isn’t suppressing votes, but a breakdown of the results should see whether that claim pans out.”
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray wins re-election in Washington
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray wins re-election in Washington, NBC News projects. She defeats Republican Tiffany Smiley.
Republican Ted Budd wins Senate race in North Carolina
Republican Ted Budd has won North Carolina’s Senate race, NBC News projects. He defeats Democrat Cheri Beasley.
Vermont becomes first state to codify abortion rights in its constitution
While it isn’t clear whether the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade will save every Democrat, voters in Vermont just became the first state to enshrine abortion rights into its state constitution.
The amendment says specifically that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
“Vermont voters made history tonight,” The Vermont for Reproductive Liberty Ballot Committee said in a statement. The referendum is just the latest example of voters pushing back on abortion restrictions. In August, Kansas pushed back an amendment to its state constitution.
Similarly, California and Michigan both have referendums to enshrine abortion rights in their constitution. Conversely, Kentucky has an initiative to say that the state constitution does not protect the right to an abortion. Montana, for its part has an initiative that if passed would mean that health care providers could face criminal charges if they do not take “reasonable actions” to save an infant born alive, including after an attempted abortion.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden wins re-election in Oregon
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden wins re-election in Oregon, NBC News projects.
What to expect from J.D. Vance's Ohio win
Ohio has elected J.D. Vance to the Senate, NBC News projects, making the state red — again, as James Downie points out. The victory over Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan points to solidly MAGA-friendly policies from Vance, who has found his home in Trump’s graces after previously rejecting him. As a senator, Downie says we can expect to find Vance “showing fealty to whatever Republican voters want from him.”
Chuck Grassley, symbol the gerontocracy, wins again
NBC News projects that Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley has been re-elected for the roughly fifty-leventh time in Iowa. I’m not saying that Grassley is old, but he’s literally five years younger than sliced bread. He’s also been in the Senate since Microsoft first released the MS-DOS operating system.
Grassley’s lead has been steadily dwindling in his last few races and Democrats figured that this might be their chance for an upset. It was not to be.
And all joking aside, Chuck Grassley will be 95 years old when his next six-year term ends. This might be a good time to talk about age limits again — for both parties.
What to know about Hassan's key win in New Hampshire
New Hampshire has a unique political culture and identity. But in some ways, Democrat Maggie Hassan’s race to keep the Senate seat she won in 2016 has been an encapsulation of many of the national issues shaping the 2022 elections.
Republican Don Bolduc’s victory in the primary showed the strength of Trump-endorsed, election-denying candidates within the party — even in independent-minded New Hampshire. And as with many competitive races, the polls tightened in early fall, suggesting a tougher-than-expected race for Hassan. Her victory may or may not have implications for what will happen elsewhere, but it’s one more piece of evidence for the limits of a red wave — and of Trumpist politics in a state he lost twice.
Greg Abbott’s re-election is a reminder that ads don’t vote
Every election, it seems, a Democratic candidate or a liberal political group releases an ad against a conservative in a solidly red jurisdiction that has Democrats standing and applauding. This year, the leading contender for that distinction was the first ad released by Mothers Against Greg Abbott, which featured women calling Abbott an opponent of family values. MSNBC columnist and Texas native Anthea Butler hailed the ad as “a litany of the horrible policies promoted by Abbott and his Republican colleagues that have made the state a hell for anyone with a working conscience.”
Arguably, a subsequent ad by the group was even more powerful. It begins with a 12-year-old being denied a foolish request to adopt a child and ends with a worried-looking 12-year-old being told she can’t have an abortion.
Despite the commercials’ high production values and poignant messages, NBC News has projected that Abbott has won reelection in Texas. It’s the latest reminder that even the best political ads are rarely game changers and no matter how good they are, that ads can’t vote.
Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul wins re-election in New York
Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul wins re-election in New York, defeating Republican Lee Zeldin, NBC News projects.
Republican Sen. Mike Crapo wins re-election in Idaho
Republican Sen. Mike Crapo wins re-election in Idaho, NBC News projects.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp defeats Stacey Abrams in Georgia
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp defeats Democrat Stacey Abrams in Georgia, NBC News projects.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom wins re-election in California
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom wins re-election in California, NBC News projects.
Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla wins re-election in California
Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla wins re-election in California, NBC News projects.
Josh Shapiro’s win as Pennsylvania governor spares the state an election denier
Democrat Josh Shapiro will be the state’s next governor, NBC News projects. As Hayes Brown writes, it’s “a major relief for fans of American democracy” and means Pennsylvanians are spared the policies of Shapiro's opponent, Trump-aligned election denier Doug Mastriano. Shapiro’s win is also a crucial measure for protecting access to abortion in the state.
Republican JD Vance wins Ohio Senate race
Republican JD Vance wins Ohio Senate race, defeating Democrat Tim Ryan. NBC News projects.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal wins re-election in Connecticut
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal wins re-election in Connecticut, NBC News projects.