The 2022 Midterms: A Battle Over the US Senate
Kisna Pande, Grade 11, Staff Writer
The 2022 midterm elections have just passed, marking the end of a tough battle for control of the US Senate.
Before the election, Democrats held the slightest possible majority in the Senate, with the chamber being split 50-50, and Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.
The Senate has been crucial for President Biden’s most ambitious plans. The Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes major energy and climate spending provisions, on a 50–50 vote with Vice President Harris breaking the tie. The Democrats have no room for anyone to stray from the party, so the stakes were high in this election: the flipping of a single seat would deliver a Republican majority, threatening the implementation of Biden’s legislation.
There were 34 seats up for re-election in this year’s midterm elections. Key races were those of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Florida.
A poll released by the New York Times and Siena College before the election found that Democrats led Republicans by 1 percentage point in the generic ballot. This type of small margin highlighted the unpredictability of the election.
When voting, constituents had many factors to consider but were most concerned about two consequential issues: inflation and gas prices. In the month of September, inflation increased for the second straight month with consumer prices going up faster than predicted. In addition, the average price of gas is currently $3.89 per gallon, which is 20 cents higher than just last month. Many voters saw this as a result of Biden’s leadership.
The electorate's disapproval of the president provided an added challenge for the Democrats in the election. A poll done by the New York Times before the election showed that 45 percent of likely voters strongly disapproved of the job that President Biden was doing, and 90 percent of those voters planned to back a Republican for Congress this fall.
However, Biden’s party attempted to garner support by reshaping its national campaign messaging after the Supreme Court overturned the long-standing Roe v. Wade case in June. The Supreme Court’s controversial and unpopular ruling seemed to boost the Democratic Party’s chances overnight, giving them a powerful tool to increase turnout among voters.
The election results are now in, and the Democrats were able to retain control of the Senate after a crucial victory in Nevada. Elections in other key states show the up-for-grabs nature of the election: North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin voted Republican, but in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and New Hampshire, the Democrat candidate won. A runoff election in Georgia will be held in December.
The significance of this heavily contested election cannot be overlooked. The Republicans’ inability to block Democrat legislation through a majority in the Senate will likely affect policy that will shape the nation for years to come.