WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Against the wind and under the weight of history, Democrats scrape by in a bitter tie with Republicans on a spectacular midterm election day.
Many Democrats came into Election Day wondering how bad their losses could be and how to explain them. By Wednesday, they were quickly optimistic that they could retain a majority vote in the Senate, celebrating victories in key races in several rulings and knowing that control of the House had not yet been declared.
Republicans were left to complain about “the quality of their candidates”. Many of them refused to accept defeat in contests that the Associated Press had declared in favor of their opponents.
It may take a few weeks for the final figures to be known. There is still a chance Republicans will seize unified control of Congress for the next two years, immediately undermining President Joe Biden’s ambitions. The country’s deep political divisions were in front of everyone.
Democrats had a lot to celebrate in the morning. But while they breathed a sigh of relief and mourned a Republican victory that didn’t materialize, there were bigger issues that both parties needed to address … and soon.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump and his conspiracy-filled policies were once again highlighted as a problem, one that this time could prevent his party from winning more national elections. Instead of celebrating a red tsunami on Wednesday, Republicans were facing a new round of infighting within the GOP over Trump’s role and the red wave that never came.
Republican strategist David Urban, a former Trump adviser, said, “Every Republican in the country woke up this morning.” “Live for Trump. Die for Trump.”
That assessment of just how far along will emerge in the coming weeks, beginning next Tuesday, the day Trump promised a “major” announcement. Most available evidence suggests that he remains the most influential figure in his party.
Given the political and economic climate, it shouldn’t be difficult for Republicans to win big on Tuesday. Polls showed that voters were extremely pessimistic about the state of the economy and the direction of the country. Biden’s approval ratings were anemic. And history has given clear indications that the party in the White House will be the target of voter discontent.
But the candidates endorsed by Trump have failed in several key battleground states.
In Pennsylvania, Democrats won Senate and gubernatorial races against a pair of candidates loyal to Trump, who favored his lies about the 2020 election. Democrat John Fetterman put concerns about his health and policies behind him. The progressives defeated Mehmet Oz, a well-known doctor whom Trump chose from among several candidates in the primaries. Doug Mastriano, a Trump supporter, was headed for a heavy defeat in the race for governor.
One of Trump’s key supporters in Congress, Colorado Representative LaRuen Boebert, remained locked in a close fight as the final votes were counted.
The situation was similar in Georgia, where Trump’s nominee for Senate, former NFL star Herschel Walker, was still trailing closely behind Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock after Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, whom Trump opposed, easily won reelection. Election.
Republican strategist Alex Conant said, “Frankly, we lost the race we should have won because Trump picked the wrong candidates.” “Georgia had to be a sure thing.”
“The challenge for Trump,” he said, “is that with every defeat, his opposition grows stronger.”
It was like that. As Trump-endorsed candidates failed, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential contender who did not enjoy the endorsement of the former president, won a landslide victory.
But for Democrats, an election night that wasn’t too bad is not the same as a night that wasn’t too good.
With several key races still to be decided, the Republican Party could still gain control of the House of Representatives for the next two years of Biden’s presidency. And with it, the Republican Party could block the passage of a number of important initiatives while launching independent investigations and even impeachment.
And while Democrats avoided political debacle, some of the seats they lost exposed deep divisions in the racially diverse, working-class coalition that has hand-picked them to victory for years. It may take weeks, or even months, for the magnitude of these divisions to be known, but there is no doubt that they exist.
A clear example is Miami-Dade County in South Florida, a predominantly Hispanic location that was a Democratic stronghold for years but won by Republican DeSantis on his way to re-election. Without Miami-Dade, Democrats don’t have much chance of winning in a state that has never had a clear political preference in presidential elections.
“That is the reality. There is a universe of Latinos and African-Americans who are voting Republican at the highest levels for various reasons,” said Democratic pollster John Anzalone, who counts Biden among his clients.
Democrats also lost suburban voters in New York and Virginia. In other districts, their candidates won narrow victories in places that Biden won easily. He lost Hispanic communities in South Texas. And they lost working-class areas in the Midwest, including Ohio, where moderate Democrat Tim Ryan failed to defeat Trump-backed Republican JD Vance.
Overall, many Democrats had trouble finding a clear and compelling message, moving from abortion to the economy to Social Security and back again.
Even before the polls closed, Third Way, a group led by moderate Democrats, issued an ominous warning about the damage to the party brand.
Third Way wrote in a memo, “While it may be reassuring to attribute any defeat in the midterm elections only to historical trends … there is a much deeper issue at play.” “After all, there is no way for Democrats to build and maintain a winning coalition without repairing their damaged brand, even in an era when Republican candidates are increasingly extreme and women’s fundamental rights are up for vote.”
Despite these concerns, history suggests that there may have been worse days for the Democrats.
Trump’s Republican Party lost 40 House seats during the 2018 midterm elections. Former President Barack Obama’s party dropped 63 seats in 2010. Dating back to 1934, the White House party lost an average of 28 seats in the lower house and four in the Senate.
“We can’t let the whiners and the whiners win,” Anzalone said. “If you’re facing historic odds and you should have suffered significant losses but you closed these races incredibly well, there are a lot of key races where the Democratic message is having an effect.”