Trump and Biden Big Losers, DeSantis Big Winner in 2022
One way to look at this election is as a repudiation of Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Democrats held 235 seats in the House in 2018 as Biden launched his campaign for president. To the surprise of prognosticators, they won just a bare majority, 222, on the day he was elected in 2020. As this is written, it looks like they will win about 211 this year.
That's more than most forecasts, but the trend is not in Biden's direction. At best, it's slow leakage of the Democratic coalition.
Enough Senate races are up in the air, as I write, to be certain, but Republicans have lost a seat in Pennsylvania, lead in a seat in Nevada and have a chance at a 51st seat in a Georgia runoff on Dec. 6. Nationalizing the race may help Republican Herschel Walker win unless former President Donald Trump comes in and depresses turnout by casting doubts on the process, as he did two years ago -- helping Democrats win their 49th and 50th Senate seats on Jan. 5, 2021.
Republicans had hoped to do better in Senate races this year, and many thought that polling understated Republican support, as it did in 2016 and 2020. But that doesn't appear to have been the case. And Republican candidates who won primaries with Trump's vocal support, but who got few Trump dollars in the general, tended to underperform more than polls suggested.
J.D. Vance did win Ohio, but he ran 9 points behind Gov. Mike DeWine. In Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz lost a seat Republicans have won in every election since 1968 and to a candidate, John Fetterman, whom a stroke left inarticulate. First-time candidate Blake Masters trails 52%-46% in Arizona, where Republicans won every Senate race between 1992 and 2016. Don Bolduc lost 54%-44% in New Hampshire to Maggie Hassan, who won by just 1,017 votes in 2016.
In each case, candidates not carrying the Trump baggage might have won.
Conservative analysts have scoffed at Biden Democrats' argument that democracy was at stake in this election. But plainly, the specter of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol hangs over candidates with the Trump imprimatur.
The biggest story of the night was the striking victories of Republican governors in the nation's third and eighth most populous states, Florida and Georgia.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp had been a target of furious Trump criticism since the former president lost the state narrowly in 2020, but last May, he defeated a Trump-backed challenger by a 51-point margin. Kemp benefited this fall from his decisions to end COVID lockdowns and stoutly defended the Georgia election laws decried as "Jim Crow 2.0" by Biden and Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams. In 2018, he had won 50%-49% by 54,000 votes, although Abrams, much ballyhooed by fashionable press, denied that she really lost. This time, Kemp beat Abrams 53%-46% and won by 294,000 votes.