Let’s Talk Politics

Midterm Elections Surprise Many


Senator Raphael Warnock. Warnock is engaged in a run-off election against challenger Herschel Walker in Georgia.

Bridget Cannon and Kate Cannon

Heading into the midterms, tensions were high as Democrats looked to maintain control over both chambers of Congress. Many political analysts projected that a red wave would sweep over the country, confidently stating that Republican candidates would beat out Democrat incumbents in multiple key congressional districts, giving Republicans a substantial majority in the House. Republicans gained eight seats and are in control of the House with a lead of 218 to 212, with 5 more races still in progress. However, the “red wave” expected by congressional figures and analysts never materialized, and individuals were surprised to see democrat candidates defending their positions in races that were predicted to have flipped seats.

Democrats sealed control over the senate on November 12th after Catherine Cortez Mastro won re-election in Nevada. Georgia’s senate race is headed to a runoff election set to take place December 6th after neither candidate was able to surpass the 50% threshold to win outright.  Democratic Incumbent Raphael Warnock centered his campaign on combating systematic racism embedded into American institutions and emphasized the legislation he has helped pass alongside republican senators. Republican Herschel Walker focused more on his promises to help stabilize the economy and reduce crime if he was elected. With the runoff election in December, both campaigns are scrambling to organize visits from high-profile congressional figures, rallies, and fundraising for political ads in hopes of increasing voter turnout.

The midterms were a gateway to many firsts as both parties looked to add more diversity to their ranks of elected officials. Democrat Maxwell Frost became the first Gen Z individual elected to congress, winning the open seat for Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Republicans added to their list of firsts by electing the first female senator from Alabama, Katie Britt, and the first female governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

There is evidence of a large amount of “ticket splitting” in many states where voters support a Democrat in one race and a Republican in another. This data directly combats the party-line voting model, where individuals vote solely based on party affiliation regardless of whether the candidate represents the policy values they align themselves with. Data surrounding ticket splitting demonstrates how even in a hyper-polarized political era, individuals vote on which candidate they believe is more qualified for the position.

Early figures indicated that Democrats benefitted greatly from the voter turnout of the youth age group (18-29), particularly in swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. The overturn of Roe vs. Wade, and high prices due to inflation, were significant causes of the mobilization of young voters. Many analysts believe many youth voters are attracted to the Democratic party based on its stance on social issues, climate change, and gun control. With many critical House races still too close to call, Americans are anxiously waiting to see how the results will affect the political agenda of Biden’s administration.