- Schuyler Beltrami
TONIGHT: Midterm Elections in the United States
Tonight, voters across the United States will vote in elections to determine the makeup of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The elections are predicted to be very close, but with a Republican majority taking over the House and Democrats possibly holding on their tied majority in the Senate. Below, we preview the elections and tell you 10 races you need to watch for tonight.
Democrats Trying to Keep Momentum, Reverse History
At the beginning of 2022, it seemed like a red wave was coming. Voters were unenthusiastic about President Biden’s first two years in office, and even more unenthusiastic about Democrats in Congress. After surprising gains in 2020 and winning control of the Senate thanks to two upset Senate victories in Georgia, the fate of the Democrats in Congress seemed to take a 180 in just two years. Then, in the middle of June, the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v Wade, which sanctified the right for women to have an abortion on demand for any reason. The decision seemed to awaken Democratic voters from a two-year-long slumber. Special elections in places like Alaska went shockingly for the Democrats and in Kansas, a notoriously red state in the Midwest, voters chose to keep that state’s right to choose an abortion after a state-wide referendum. The momentum was turning for the Democrats’ favor. To help them even more, the Special House Committee to investigate the events of January 6th were operating public sessions, aired on prime-time television, detailing exactly how former President Trump and his allies had not only allowed, but orchestrated, the events on January 6th with the siege on the US Capitol building by Trump supporters. Polls in the summer and into September, showed Democrats making late surges and Republicans began to worry about earning only a small majority in the House and beginning to lose any hope of retaking the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said at a press conference that “candidate electability” was a big factor in concerns for the Republican Party. However, months can feel like years in the world of politics and even though Democratic poll numbers were surging in July and August, there were still three months to go until Election Day and Democratic strategists and candidates feared that the momentum may begin to wane by the time November 8th came around. It seems that they were correct. House districts and Senate seats once thought to be in play for Democrats have now gone back to being assuredly Republican. In the summer, Democrats talked about flipping Senate seats in traditionally red states like Ohio and Florida. Now, they are hoping to eke out razor-thin victories in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona.
On the line for both parties is control of Congress for at least two years, and more importantly, control of Congress for the two years leading up to the next Presidential Election in 2024. Despite having power in both houses of Congress, Joe Biden has had some trouble passing his desired legislation, especially in the Senate. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), who some consider to be right-of-center Democrats, have blocked huge spending bills and infrastructure legislation from passing, in fears of these bills raising already high inflation and cost of living levels. In the House, Democrats have had to rely on a thin margin of only six seats to remain in power. Most experts are predicting Republicans to flip at least 15 seats in this election tonight, giving them ample space to retake the House.
These Elections Could Decide the Whole Night
With 438 seats up for election in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate also being elected, it can be tough to know which elections truly matter. After all, a majority of House and Senate seats are in “safe red” or “safe blue” districts, meaning the Republicans or Democrats are assured to win in these areas based on polling, history, and demographics. In the House there are, however, 36 seats which experts are calling true toss-ups. 26 of these are currently held by Democrats and 10 by Republicans, with Republicans expected to win a majority of the Democratic-held toss-ups and hold on to almost all of their toss-up seats. In the Senate, the main races to watch for will be in places like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada where Democrats are hoping to either gain a seat or hold on to their own seats. The Senate, which is currently tied at 50-50, will only need to see one more flip by Republicans than Democrats for control of the Upper House of Congress to change hands.
Here are the main House races to look out for tonight as polls begin to close at 7 PM Eastern Time.
Texas 34th District: The current incumbent Mayra Flores (R) won a special election in the summer and was a huge upset for Republicans. The majority Hispanic district in the traditionally Rio Grande Valley will go a long way in showing if the gulf between Hispanic voters and the Democratic Party has grown since 2020 or if the Democrats have managed to win back some of the voters in this hugely important electorate.
Oregon 5th District: The election in Oregon’s fifth district, which has a partisan lean of D+3, is another district where Republicans are hoping to turn recent gains with Hispanic voters into a seat gained in a very blue state. Republican candidate Lori Chavez-DeRemer would be the first Hispanic female to represent Oregon in the House if she wins, and would chip away at a Democratic lead in a bastion of liberalism.
Michigan 3rd District: The Democrats opened up a new strategy this year: backing far-right candidates in swing districts. The idea behind this plan was to have far-right, less electable candidates win Republican primaries in order to give the Democratic nominee a better chance to win. We will see if this plan works in Michigan’s 3rd District, where Republican nominee John Gibbs is in danger of losing his seat to Democrats and would be a strong showing for Democrats that MAGA policies are not popular with independent voters. However, a Republican victory could signal a far worse night for Democrats, as it could show that their message is not resonating enough with independent voters.
California 22nd District: Incumbent Republican Representative David Valadao was one of only two Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump and survive the primaries. Now his district in the Central Valley of southern California has become more favorable to Democrats, yet is still considered to be a toss-up by many news outlets. Rep. Valadao has tried to appeal to voters by showing off his extensive ties to the region and his support for infrastructure projects, but redistricting may get the better of him; one of the few advantageous tools at the Democrats’ disposal in this all-important state.
Virginia 7th District: Incumbent Democrat Abigail Spanberger has made two things the focal points of her campaign: abortion and the fact that she is not Joe Biden. Democrats are hoping to capitalize on summertime anger at the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v Wade to mobilize many of their core voters. Unfortunately for Democrats, the low popularity ratings for President Biden in his first term have caused some Democrats in swing seats like the Virginia 7th to distance themselves from the President. Will that strategy work in a typically blue state, which elected a Republican to Governor in 2021?
Pennsylvania Senate: The race between Dr. Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman has been one of the most tightly watched races all year. Pennsylvania is one of the most divided states in the country and this race will largely come down to turnout for both parties and how the highly-populated suburbs around Philadelphia vote. A strong showing in these suburbs for Democrats, similar to the levels reached by Joe Biden in 2020, could mean Democrats flipping this seat. However, Pennsylvania is an extremely conservative seat outside its major metropolitan areas and former TV Doctor Mehmet Oz, who has come under fire for his past, including only recently moving to Pennsylvania from New Jersey and for living part-time in his native Turkey, is hoping to capitalize on his close ties to former President Trump to mobilize base voters in the Keystone State. The winner of the seat in Pennsylvania could very well decide the makeup of the entire Senate.
Georgia Senate: For the first time in the history of the United States, the Senate race in a Southern state is being contested by two African-American candidates. Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock earned a surprising victory in 2020, propelling the Democrats to control of the Senate. However, like many other Democrats, his campaign and popularity has suffered from an overall dislike for Democratic policies linked to inflation and cost of living. His opponent, Herschel Walker, who was a star running back at the University of Georgia and close ally of former President Trump, has been able to sustain high polling numbers despite numerous controversies over his past payments for abortions. President Biden won Georgia in 2020 by less than 1,000 votes, and both Senate races in 2020 were decided by less than 1.5%. The margin could be even closer this time in one of America’s most tightly contested states in the country.
The Millennial Agora will be providing live updates throughout Election Night on our website and social media pages, so follow us for the most up-to-date information on who will control American politics for the next two years.