It’s been almost 24 hours since first polls closed and we still don’t know who will control either house. While not totally surprised senate is unknown, I figured by now house would have already been called for GOP. Fact it has not shows serious problems as I will discuss below. Below will be on house, senate, and governor races and then final thoughts on each party.
Even if GOP does win house and I think at this point they are still favoured to do so; it will be far closer than many of us thought. High inflation, rising crime, and president with mediocre approval rating are all characteristics that should lead to a red wave like in 1994 and 2010. But it did not. And Dems still have an outside chance of holding house, but it is an outside one. More worrisome for GOP is it will be likely Florida and New York that delivered it and had those two states had swings similar to rest of country; good chance we would be talking about a Democrat hold of house. Florida for a variety of reasons has swung rightward and much like Iowa & Ohio, it is now gone for Dems and solidly in GOP fold. New York has an unpopular governor and rising crime lead to a much closer governor’s race than one would normally expect. Not enough to carry state, but Zeldin’s strong showing likely carried some GOP house candidates over the line in Long Island and upstate New York which tend to be more swingy. Fact this swing wasn’t replicated in most states is a huge indictment for GOP. More importantly a common trend seemed to be that MAGA crazies/Trump endorsed candidates were either losing or underperforming while more establishment types were doing alright. With Democrats, similar issue with more progressive ones hurting party while moderates hung on to multiple seats one would have expected to be GOP pickups. This suggests to me Americans are tired of rage politics and ideological driven and instead with tough times want leaders who can offer solutions to the current issues. And it looks like Lauren Boebert will be defeated who was one of the most obnoxious far right crazies. Likewise moderates like Jared Golden, Abigail Spanbanger, and Elissa Slotkin holding on for Democrats in tough districts shows moderation, not more left wing politics is way forward.
At this point, anything from 51-49 for Democrats to 52-48 for GOP is within realm of possibility, but right now I would rather be a Democrat than a Republican. Democrats were able to flip Pennsylvania giving them more breathing room. Also had strong second in North Carolina so that is probably only state Trump won in 2020 that they may have a shot at in 2024. Fell short in Ohio, but I never bought idea Tim Ryan would win there as I believe state is now gone for Democrats. Wisconsin came so close and had they nominated a more moderate as opposed to Bernie Sanders supporter, I think they could have flipped it too. Georgia is going to a run off so we won’t know until December who wins there. Nevada is really tight and no idea who comes out on top there. Arizona looks good for Democrats but still not called yet. Nevertheless GOP must win 2 of 3 outstanding states to carry senate. New Hampshire which was supposed to be a battleground but wasn’t even close. In some ways makes sense as Republicans in New England tend to be quite moderate so until party moderates, is probably going to have a tough time winning there. Had GOP had a good night in senate, it is possible they could have won a filibuster proof majority in 2024 due to favourable map, but now that is probably out of reach or at least extremely unlikely.
Governor and state legislatures
Democrats as expected gained Maryland and Massachusetts. By same token Republicans have fallen short in potential pickups. They lost Wisconsin by a bigger margin than Trump did in 2020. Lost badly in Michigan and Pennsylvania and in both cases had hardcore MAGA candidates who were election deniers from 2020. In fact GOP messed up so badly in Michigan there is a chance for first time since 80s Democrats may gain a trifecta at state level. Nevada and Arizona still remain unknown and I give GOP slight edge in both but possible Dems win each too. New York and Oregon however were a lot closer than should have been for Democrats. Hochul won by only around 6 points in a state Democrats normally win by over 20 points and Oregon still hasn’t been called and may go GOP, although narrow Dem win most likely. Both likely due to crime and in case of Oregon homelessness so suggests Democrats vulnerable there and only didn’t hurt them elsewhere thanks to more extreme GOP candidates. Georgia went solidly for Kemp so no doubt he is a potential for 2024 GOP nominee and also shows not caving into Trump on 2020 results served him well. DeSantis won Florida by 20 points so asides showing Florida is no longer a swing state; I think after last night, he is favourite to be GOP nominee in 2024. He had a very good night in what was a disappointment for Republicans. If Biden doesn’t run, I would keep an eye on Gretchen Whitmer who won by almost 10 points in Michigan which is a key swing state. Much like two houses, it seems being endorsed by Trump was a liability while distancing one’s self from Trump an asset.
Win or lose both or either house, definitely a huge sigh of relief as many feared it would be much worse. But worst thing Dems can do here is get complacent and assume everything is okay. It absolutely is not and only reason there was not a similar wave to 1994 and 2010 was thanks to many extreme GOP candidates. High inflation, rising crime, and problems at border are all issues that could plague Democrats in 2024 if not dealt with. More importantly results showed most Americans are not interested in a strong leftward shift. US is not Canada, it is not Denmark, it is not Europe so pushing policies that sell in those is sure fire way to lose. Past Democrat presidents like Clinton and Obama got this and current party needs to if it wants to win. Relying on GOP to screw up may have worked this time but no guarantee it will in the future. Abortion issue no doubt helped along with many Americans wanting Trump to go away. But as I have always said, relying on your opponents to screw up is always a risky strategy.
Even if GOP does manage to take both houses which is still possible, this was not a good night considering circumstances. Circumstances were every bit as favourable for them as in 1994 and 2010 and unlike those two only needed a very small swing to win both houses. Fact almost 24 hours later we still don’t know if they picked up either says they massively underperformed. GOP needs to realize Trump is a huge anchor on party and sooner they let him go, the better for party long term. I cannot help but think DeSantis is the heavy favourite for 2024, but off course may choose Trump or whomever Trump backs if he doesn’t run as a lot of the base live in an alternative universe. Either way pushing conspiracy theories, denying election outcomes is not way forward for party as well as morally wrong too. GOP has correctly diagnosed issues Americans are upset with, but they have not offered actual solutions and they must do latter before they can count on winning. Likewise on abortion issue, it appeared that hurt them so if GOP was smart, they would not put up a filibuster on this and let federal government codify issue so can get it off the table. White Evangelicals may be determined to see abortion banned, but most women don’t like state controlling their bodies.
On side note Alberta had a by-election and Danielle Smith to no one’s surprise won Brooks-Medicine Hat, but she lost Medicine Hat polls to NDP and massively underperformed what party normally gets. Whether it be GOP underperformance, Truss short lived PM or Smith in trouble in Alberta; one theme is clear that most people aren’t interested in right wing dogmatism even if base wants that. People want pragmatic solutions to deal with their concerns, not rage baiting or ideological dogmatism.