The 2022 Midterm Election “Red Wave” is now a symbol of false hope for the Republican Party and former president Trump. Politicians on the right confidently proclaimed that November 8, 2022 would prove that Americans are frustrated with Democratic leadership. Inflationary pressures and attacks on gun rights could not save them from doom. Even though Republicans claimed some victories, given recent historical trends for midterms elections, the 2022 elections are largely a failure for the party.
Despite competitive races in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona, Democrats have retained control of the Senate with the Warnock-Walker race still undecided. Republicans did gain control of the House, but only by a two-seat margin, with two races still uncalled. Even if Republicans win both races, a four-seat majority is nothing to celebrate.
Historical data from Franklin Roosevelt to Donald Trump demonstrates that lower presidential approval ratings mean that his (or her) party will lose more House seats during the midterms. During President Obama’s administration, Democrats lost sixty-three House seats in 2010, for instance, even though the president’s approval rating was polled at 45%. The Democrats also lost Senate seats during both Obama-era midterm elections. Retaining control of the Senate is a major victory for Democrats. Even though President Biden’s approval rating was 41.4% on Election Day, Democrats only lost nine House seats during this election cycle, creating an unprecedented situation.
Reflecting on the 2018 midterm election results also demonstrates that the Democrats can consider the 2022 election cycle a success. Trump’s 2018 approval rating was polled around 44%, which predicted that Republicans would lose 33 seats in 2018. The Republicans lost forty House seats during the 2018 cycle. The Democrats should have lost control of the House by a significant margin, which demonstrates that the Republicans have no one to blame but themselves.
Whether Democrat or Republican, one must acknowledge that extreme right-wing decisions from the Supreme Court paired with the rise of Trumpism are not necessarily popular among the American public. President Biden is not the most popular president. Democrats are not necessarily saints. For many, they might be the lesser of two evils.
If Republicans want to retain their influence, policy initiatives must reflect the will of the people. With yet another recent mass shooting in Colorado, the NRA is becoming a liability for the party. Republicans should not suggest a potential nationwide abortion ban given that it is highly unpopular. Ultimately, actions that ignore public sentiment could signal the Republicans’ demise.
However, the former president presents perhaps the largest challenge for Republicans to overcome. Even though some Americans continue to support former President Trump, there are many Republican voters who are quite frustrated with his actions pertaining to January 6, 2021. Without a meaningful bipartisan commitment to a full investigation of the President’s response to the Capitol riot, the Republican Party will continue to lose influence in American politics.