Where the Red Wave that Wasn't Fits in the History of ElectionsBreaking News
tags: elections, political history, 2022 Midterms
While not all of the Election Day 2022 races have been called, one trend is clear: It is not the big red wave that Republicans and some polls predicted. Recent history shows that the party that does not hold the presidency makes big gains in the midterms. Low approval ratings for President Biden, decades-high inflation, worries about a recession, and crime that spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic all pointed to a wipeout for Democrats.
While it’s increasingly clear that Republicans will take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, they will likely have only a very small margin. The GOP could also still take the Senate, though that, too, would be by the slimmest majority.
To a certain extent, politicos were expecting a wave because the past midterm elections had resulted in waves. But every midterm being a “wave election” is a relatively recent phenomenon, argues Kyle Kondik, managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. If you look at the elections prior to ‘06, you can find a lot of muddier outcomes,” he says. “’98 [and] 2002 are good elections for the president’s party in the midterms, but ‘90, ‘86, ‘82, ‘78, those were all a little bit harder to categorize.”
Experts on the history of American elections say while this midterm election was unusual in a lot of ways, there are some similarities to past midterm elections in terms of the national factors that led to smaller Republican gains.
Voters in 2022 went to the polls following two history-making events: The U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, and a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in June 2022, and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and subsequent bombshell hearings revealing that the aides were trying to convince President Trump that the election wasn’t stolen.