By: Rachel Spears and Chak Kai-Wong—Political Editor and Correspondent
With the 2022 midterm election approaching its end, the Talon has compiled results and analysis of key background races in the House, Senate and Massachusetts local elections. The election summarizes the current political landscape in the U.S. and reveals important foresight to the 2024 presidential election. Here is a snapshot of the midterm election.
Prior to the 2022 midterm election, there was a consensus in the political agencies that both the historical trend and the polls favor the Republican party to win back the control of the House of Representatives in a sweeping fashion, a “red wave”. President Biden’s approval rating has lingered at the low 40s, and ever since the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the average loss of seats in the House with similar approval rating is 32 seats. The Democratic party, nevertheless, defied these expectations, losing only a handful of toss-up seats and handed Republicans a slim majority of 3-5 seats at most. “Democrats performed better in competitive races, and we’re seeing success for Democrats in swing states time and time again in election cycles. On the whole, maps looked slightly better for Democrats than they did previously,” said Ashley Koning, the director of Rutgers University’s Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.
There are multiple reasons behind House Democrat’s success in avoiding the “red wave”. They were foremost successful in shifting the top issue of election from the inflation and economy to abortion and future of democracy. In the exit polls following the election, about half of the young, unmarried women said the supreme court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade impacted their decision to turnout, these voters also broke Democrats 68% to 32%. “It was abortion that made a huge difference in race after race. In well over half the races, the issue of abortion that increased turnout of Democrats and younger voters,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, a top Democratic polling firm. A young Sharon voter talked about why she chose to vote in the midterm election. “This is an election with generational effect. It’s frightening to thinking but possible to have a national abortion ban if the Republicans control the government. That’s why I voted in my first midterm election to defend reproductive rights and encouraged my friends to do the same,” she explained.
For the House Republicans, the situation will likely be more intricate: The less-than-ideal majority in the House probably will prove to be disappointing and not enough to pass radical conservative legislations, but nor will it discourage them from pursuing the Trump agendas, given they have regained the control of the house. “The goal when I became leader four years ago was to win the majority, and we have done it. We have fired Nancy Pelosi,” said future Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in a statement. Although the long-term impact of the Republican majority in the House remains unclear, it would certainly be guided by the far-right lawmakers who have already announced a retaliatory investigation into President Biden’s relation with his son’s business only days after the election.
Thanks to the victory in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arizona, the Associated Press and CNN projected the Democrats to retain control of the Senate on Monday. Democrats are now positioned with the possibility of advancing their seat advantage to 51 depending on the result of the Georgia runoff election.
Arguably the biggest win for the Democrats is the Pennsylvania Senate election where Democrat candidate and Lit. Governor John Fetterman defeated Republican candidate and former TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz. Fetterman won by a comfortable margin of 4.5%, exceeding the performance by President Biden in 2020, who took the state by a razor-thin 1.2% advantage. The Fetterman campaign is not only successful because he flipped a Republican seat in the Senate, but also because he significantly outperformed President Biden in counties dominated by white working-class voters, revealing a blueprint for future Democrat victory in the state. “Pennsylvania elections are about margins, and he cut into the margins Republicans had across the counties that they usually control,” said Christopher Borick, a political scientist and pollster at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “He got a lot of looks from voters who aren’t very open to looking at Democrats right now.”
In Nevada and Arizona, the Democratic Senators Mark Kelly and Catherine Cortez Masto won their re-election contests against Republican challengers, Blake Masters and Adam Laxalt. Masters and Laxalt, both endorsed by former President Trump, are vocal deniers of the 2020 election. They ran an “MAGA” style campaign with heavy emphasis on election integrity, border security and prohibition of abortion. The failed Senate bids of these radical conservative candidates may indicate that the American voters have grown tired of the Trump-style politics. “I’d like to vote for a Republican, but I’m not going to vote for these extremists and election deniers,” said Mr. Bill Heller, a retired oil-field worker and lifelong registered
Republican who has begun voting for more Democrats in recent years because he is concerned about the preservation of democracy.
The positive result certainly exceeds the expectation of most observers. And the victory ensures the Biden administration will have the Senate in control for the next 2 years to confirm his judicial nominees, albeit the blockade of legislative agendas from the Republican House. If Senator Warnock were to retain his seat against the former football player Herschel Walker in Georgia, where the election has gone to runoff with Warnock ahead 49.4% to 48.5% in the general election, the Democrats would have a 51-49 advantage in the Senate. The extra vote in the chamber could become crucial when the Democratic priorities are stymied by a single moderate vote from members like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. “The 50 seats split just slows the process down, if we had 51-49, it would be a much better situation,” said Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin on Monday.
Democratic candidate for governor, Maura Healey earned 63.5% of the vote, propelling her to a win over Republican Geoff Diehl and Liberterian Kevin Reed. Healey will secede Republican Governor Charlie Baker. She made history as the first female and first out lesbian elected to the governorship in Massachusetts.
One of the focuses of her campaign was protecting the rights of women in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v Wade. “As long as I’m governor, women will always have the freedom to control their own bodies,” Healey said, “our state will provide access to safe, legal abortion. We will protect women, we will protect patients, and we will protect providers,” she added.
Andrea Joy Campbell was elected to the position of Attorney General. She will be the first African American Attorney General in the state.“This moment, this win, our win, is a culmination of hard work, purpose-driven work,” Campbell said.
The State Senate and State House were won by the Democrats. The State Senate is 92% Democratic and 8% Republican. The State House has 132 Democrats, 125 Republicans, 1 Independent, and 2 races have yet to be called. The Republicans in those races are holding small leads- 0.2% in the 1st Middlesex District.
State Senator Paul Feeney will represent the area that includes Sharon in the General Court. Likewise, State Representative Ted Phillips will represent the district that includes Sharon.
No United States Senate seats were up for election in Massachusetts. All nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives were won by Democrats. Representative Jake Auchincloss ran unopposed in the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District
A new 4% income tax will be levied on those making more than one million dollars. These funds will be used for changes in education and transportation. 4354 of the 8128 voters in the town of Sharon, about 56%, voted for the new income tax. “[The new tax is] fair considering the small percentage of people who fall into that category,” an anonymous Sharon resident said. “They’ve actually fared better through this pandemic than anyone else economically,” he added.
Question two dealt with dental insurance and passed with more than 70% of Massachusetts voters voting yes. This vote affirmed a law that imposed heavier regulations on those insurance companies. Opponents of this ballot measure primarily included dental insurance companies but some Massachusetts dentists supported the new law. “I think the transparency piece of this is huge,” said dentist Andrew Tonelli.
One of the ballot measures did not pass. Massachusetts voters rejected the proposed changes to alcohol licenses but in the town of Sharon the results were different. 51.06% of Sharon residents voted yes on the measure while 48.94% of voters said no.
Question four was about Massachusetts residents who cannot provide proof of legal residence and their eligibility for driver’s licenses. This divisive ballot measure passed with 54% of the vote but many voters are still unsure about how this new law will affect them. “I did vote no on this law, but even though it did come back yes, it does improve safety throughout the state because all of the people, all of the illegals, who had no licenses and would run from the cops when they were going to get pulled over. Now they have no reason to run,” a Massachusetts voter said.