By Ethan Percival
Historically, Midterm Elections, which decide control of the two houses of Congress, spell disaster for the party controlling Congress. In the 2014 Midterms, Democrats lost nine Senate seats and thirteen seats in the House on top of the fact the Republicans already had the majority in both Chambers of Congress. Given Biden’s low approval rating at 41%, high inflation, and high gas prices, the 2022 Midterms should have been a catastrophe for Democrats.
In a shocking turn of events, Democrats will retain control of the Senate and the Republicans have only gained a slim majority in the House. These achievements are even more surprising, considering that the Democrats held only a slim majority in the House, and the Senate was a 50/50 split with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any tie in the Democrat’s favor.
It is not a complete victory for Democrats as control of the House has fallen to the Republicans. However, they only hold the house by a slim majority, which could allow for across-the-aisle cooperation. This result is leagues better, at least for the Democrats, than the Red Wave most would have expected in the Midterms.
But, how did Democrats defy all odds in these Midterm Elections? A number of factors contributed to the success of the Democratic Party, largest of which is the overturning of the landmark supreme court decision, Roe v. Wade. According to Pew Research Center, “Public support for legal abortion remains largely unchanged since before the decision, with 62% saying it should be legal in all or most cases.” Additionally, in the five states which abortion rights were on the ballot (California, Michigan, Vermont, Kentucky, and Montana), the right to an abortion was protected in all of them.
Adding to the Republicans’ failure in the midterms is the increasingly extreme position many members of the party are taking as a result of the Trump Presidency. This turn towards the far right was reflected by many of the candidates the GOP chose, or more accurately the candidates Trump endorsed. Many of these candidates such as the Ohio Senator-Elect J.D. Vance and Georgia Senate Candidate Hershel Walker echoed the same claims as Trump, such as the claim that the 2020 Election was stolen.
The Republican candidates and their running platforms likely alienated many moderate Republicans and Independents who would vote for the less extreme candidates. However, one of the biggest groups that is credited with tilting the election in the Democrats favor was Gen Z voters. According to C.I.R.C.L.E., over 27% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in this election, and of those voters, 63% voted for the Democratic Party with 35% voting Republican. These elections held the second-highest youth turn-out numbers in nearly three decades.
For many, this election is a turning point in American politics, with new voters becoming election-deciders as more and more young adults voice their opinions in US Politics.