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US midterms: Who won, who lost and what we know so far

Republicans on course to win House majority, with Senate too close to call, on a bad night for Donald Trump’s chosen candidates

Joe Sommerlad,Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 10 November 2022 14:37 GMT
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'Definitely not a Republican wave': Lindsey Graham on midterm elections

As the results began to roll in from America’s midterm elections, it quickly became clear that the contest had been much closer than expected and the outcome more nail-biting and unpredictable than many had foreseen.

The Republicans appear poised to secure a majority in the House of Representatives, while Democrats are favoured to hold onto the Senate, with split control potentially complicating Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.

But the “red tsunami” that many blustering conservative commentators had confidently forecast was about to level Washington DC has most certainly not materialised.

South Carolina GOP senator Lindsey Graham admitted as much when he was asked by NBC what he had seen play out and answered dryly: “Definitely not a Republican wave, that is for darn sure.”

While many congressional headline-makers coasted to victory as anticipated, including the likes of New Yorkers Chuck Schumer and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and California governor Gavin Newsom for the Democrats, and Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene for the GOP, there were plenty of surprises in store.

Candidates backed by former president Donald Trump, in particular, had a very mixed evening indeed.

Here is a quick overview of the US midterms as the results stand on Thursday, with more due over the coming hours and days.

No red wave but Republicans still on track to win the House

While the GOP has certainly made gains and are still ultimately expected to seize the House by increasing their present 212 seats beyond the 218 target needed for a majority, a number of high-profile races have not played out as the Republicans might have wished, leaving campaign trail confidence looking much more like hubris.

The case of Democratic congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer, winning a second-term in Virginia is a good example: she had been a prime target for House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and the National Republican Congressional Committee but nevertheless held on to beat challenger Yesli Vega by a wide margin.

Abigail Spanberger (AP)

Seth Magaziner likewise fought off a similar challenge from Republican Allan Fung to prevent a GOP flip in Rhode Island, while the Democrat Greg Landsman secured a swing for his party by unseating long-term Republican congressman Steve Chabot in Ohio.

Maga firebrand Lauren Boebert is meanwhile thought to be in trouble in Colorado, with her Democratic challenger Adam Frisch leading by fewer than 100 votes.

Other big disappointments for Republicans beyond the House were losses for their Senate and gubernatorial candidates Dr Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, the failure of ex-army general and conspiracy theorist Dan Bolduc to win a seat in the upper chamber in New Hampshire, Lee Zeldin losing New York’s governorship to Kathy Hochul and Herschel Walker only managing to force a stalemate against Reverend Raphael Warnock in Georgia. The Georgia Senate race will head to a runoff on 6 December after neither candidate netted 50 per cent of the vote.

The atmosphere at “victory” parties planned for Mr Mastriano, Mr Walker and by Mr McCarthy, clips of which have been shared on social media, looked bleak indeed.

Senate too close to call

Pennsylvania lieutenant governor John Fetterman’s triumph over adversity to beat Dr Oz, a smug TV physician backed by Mr Trump, was a major setback for the Republicans’ ambitions for the upper house.

Both the Georgia candidates are moving for a runoff election after reaching a dead end, which will commence next month. Both the contenders failed to reach the 50 per cent threshold needed to avoid a January runoff.

John Boozman defeated Democrat Natalie James in red Arkansas in what has been touted as the “solid Republican” race.

In Nevada, Adam Laxalt is leading with a few thousand votes against incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, though Democrats are confident Ms Cortez Masto will make up the gap once mail-in votes are fully counted. If Democrats win the Nevada Senate race, it would mean the party preserves its majority in the upper chamber. If the Republican ekes out a win, control of the Senate could once again come down to a Georgia runoff election.

GOP senator Ron Johnson has won re-election to a third term in Wisconsin by narrowly defeating Democrat Mandela Barnes.

In the Arizona governor’s race, meanwhile, Republican pro-Trump news anchor Kari Lake is said to be trailing Democratic secretary of state Katie Hobbs. With more than 75 per cent of the votes counted at the time of writing, Ms Hobbs had kept a small lead over her Republican opponent.

High-profile disappointments for Democrats

It was by no means all good news for the Democrats, however, with party rising stars Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke failing to win their respective bids to become the new governors of Georgia and Texas.

Ms Abrams again lost to incumbent Brian Kemp, as she did in 2018, a defeat that led her to pursue allegations of voter suppression in the Peach State and campaign against the issue, therein paving the way for a number of remarkable Democratic victories in 2020, which saw Georgia turn blue for Mr Biden for the first time since 1992.

Stacey Abrams (AP)

Mr O’Rourke, a former contender to be his party’s presidential nominee, campaigned hard in the Lone Star state to beat incumbent Greg Abbott, who was widely criticised for his failure to act on gun control after the tragic school shootings in Uvalde this spring, but even anger over that atrocity could not inspire a change of leadership.

Incumbent governor Gretchen Whitmer’s victory over Tudor Dixon in Michigan, however, is an important boost, especially given the fierce anti-lockdown protests and foiled kidnap plot she had to endure in 2020.

A very mixed night for Donald Trump

The Trump-endorsed Dr Oz and Mr Mastriano lost out to Mr Fetterman and Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania, Mr Walker stumbled in Georgia, Tim Michaels failed to unseat governor Tony Evers in Wisconsin, Bo Hines and Sandy Smith lost in North Carolina and Marie Perez soared to an early lead over Joe Kent in Washington – all part of a string of disappointments for the deposed election-denier.

Meanwhile, even though all of Arizona’s votes have yet to be counted, Ms Lake’s possible defeat could be compounded by incumbent Democratic senator Mark Kelly beating Republican venture capitalist Blake Masters, over whom he holds a significant lead.

But it was not all bad for Mr Trump, who had been starting to look like box office poison in the small hours of the morning.

JD Vance (AP)

Author JD Vance did secure a crucial Senate win for the Republicans in Ohio and there were wins for Marco Rubio over Val Demings in Florida, for ex-White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in Arkansas’s gubernatorial race, for Kristi Noem in South Dakota and for Ted Budd in North Carolina and Katie Britt in Alabama.

Other Republicans backed by Mr Trump in the House fared well in deep-red districts, like Andrew Clyde and Jim Banks, as well as controversial firebrands Mr Gaetz and Ms Taylor Greene.

For all that, the failure of the “red wave” is already being laid at the door of Mar-a-Lago, with one unnamed Republican strategist telling The Independent: “Tonight’s results lie squarely at the feet of Donald J Trump.

“Had he not endorsed extremely flawed candidates in the primary, we would be having an amazing night tonight. Instead, we are losing very winnable races.”

Ron DeSantis re-elected

Arguably the worst outcome of the night from Mr Trump’s point of view was the re-election of Ron DeSantis as Florida governor, a candidate he had heavily promoted in 2018 and hailed as a “tough cookie”.

Ron DeSantis (AFP/Getty)

But Mr DeSantis’s profile has since grown and grown in office, thanks to his stances against coronavirus restrictions and migrants and regular appearances on conservative media, all very popular with the American right, which have only served to stoke Mr Trump’s jealousy, appalled at the success of the monster he himself claims to have created.

He will now fear Mr DeSantis’s potential as a prospective rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, perhaps explaining his sudden animosity towards a man he recently dubbed “Ron DeSanctimonious” at a rally and whom he was quoted as calling “fat”, “phoney” and “whiny” in Maggie Haberman’s recent book Confidence Man.

Ominously for Mr Trump, Mr DeSantis’s supporters were chanting “Two more years!” on Tuesday night, more than a hint that he should be prepared to resign in 2024 in order to launch a tilt at the White House.

Gen-Z secures Congress seat

Generation Z now officially has a seat in Congress with the victory of Democrat candidate Maxwell Alejandro Frost who won in Florida‘s 10th congressional district.

The 25-year-old Afro-Cuban gun reform activist defeated Republican Calvin Wimbish by 19 percentage points in the largely liberal Orlando-area seat.

Historic wins for The LGBTQ candidates

At least 340 LGBTQ candidates had won their mid-term elections as of late Wednesday, surpassing the previous record of 336 candidates.

Democrat James Roesener became the first openly transgender man to win in any state legislature election. He was elected to New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Democrat Maura Healey of Massachusetts was elected to become the country’s first openly lesbian governor.

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