Hamra Tariq is an undergraduate student currently pursuing her international relations degree at Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore. She has a keen interest in South Asian politics, the Indo-Pacific, and the shift in the global order.
The US midterm elections are held on the first Tuesday of November, except if Tuesday falls on the first day. Hence, for the 2022 US midterms, the next Tuesday, November 8 was chosen for polls. The United States Congress is bicameral; it consists of the lower body, the House of Representatives, and the upper body, the Senate.
The Congressional elections determine the representatives of the state for two years and are held in the middle of the four-year term of the President. The House of Representatives consists of 435 seats, while the Senate has 100. Each state has two senators, elected for a term of 6 years. The representatives are from smaller districts and serve for two years. The members of Congress work together to make laws, investigate issues, and use public money.
The Democratic Party, a left-wing party with more progressive and liberal views, and the Republican Party (GOP), the right-wing with a more conservative approach, make up the two major parties of the United States. The President’s ability to fulfill his agenda relies on whether his party is able to control both chambers of Congress.
Red vs Blue
The major concern before the 2022 US midterms for Democrats was the economy, whereas the Republicans hoped to secure reproductive rights. In general, the economy, abortion, immigration, and democracy have been major themes of discussion in the run-up to the midterm elections.
Before the 2022 US midterms, the Democratic Party held a majority in both houses. However, after the elections held on November 8, the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Minority Leader, was selected on Tuesday by his party to fill the position of House speaker when the next Congress convenes early in 2023.
While Democrats were able to take back a small number of seats, they suffered net losses and lost crucial contests in states like New York, Florida, and others by thin margins. The Democrats have been able to retain a majority in the Senate after vulnerable incumbents in Arizona and Nevada won reelection and a seat flipped in Pennsylvania.
They have a chance to increase their thin majority as a Georgia Senate race heads to a run-off in December. It is noteworthy that a disproportionately high percentage of first-time voters turned out to cast their ballots; these are individuals for whom the fight against the climate crisis is of particular importance in the US.
Finally, the anticipated Trump-Republican victory was likely prevented by issues related to climate change and the abortion rights controversy. Republicans tended to misjudge the power of abortion rights. The Republicans got divided between Trump loyalists and the other lot of mainstream candidates.
Although the much anticipated red wave of Republicans could not materialize in the form of major victories, the hold of the House will allow them to put barriers to Biden’s legislative plans. The bills need a majority from both houses of Congress and approval from the President to be able to become law.
The gains made by the Republicans in the 2022 US midterms will significantly affect what gets done over the next two years. As stated, Republicans would be able to prevent Biden from achieving his agenda for the rest of the term, but they would also be unable to accomplish any of their own plans.
A Republican House will also almost definitely disband the panel looking into the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, when supporters of former President Donald Trump destroyed the structure in a futile attempt to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral victory. However, without the Senate, Republicans will be unable to pass their own legislation without the Democrats’ assistance.
Additionally, the President has the power to veto laws passed by Congress. As a result, there will be a political impasse in Washington, and Biden would have to take executive action on his own to pursue his agenda. Moreover, the 2024 Senate map will be extremely hard for Democrats, as they will have to defend 23 seats, many of them in right-leaning states like Ohio and Montana, while Republicans only have to defend 10.
Ahead of the elections, Republicans were overflowing with confidence, but they did not instill it. It’s time for them to reclaim their integrity and humility. Democrats must quit hiding and emerge from the doom loop; not every election will be a rerun of previous thrashings, and not every electoral pattern will remain constant.
Concluding it, the 2022 US midterms reflected the domestic happenings and the American mindset. It turned out that the economy is not the only issue concerning voters. In the past, divided governments were viewed positively for their role to create a check and balance between institutions, but the current political polarization means a deadlock will prevail until the next presidential elections.
Many analysts see these elections as a critical moment for the US to strengthen democracy and increase the credibility of the electoral system, which has faced serious problems over the past decades.
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