There is a chance you woke up Wednesday expecting a red wave of election results to have washed over the country.
Polling leading up to the midterms all but guaranteed that. But as votes continued to be counted across the country it’s become clear that there will be no read wave. But what does that mean going forward?
This is one of the questions the USA TODAY Opinion team will continue to answer. So stick with our rolling analysis of the election and join us in the comments.
Midterm election analysis:Even with Kemp, Vance wins, are midterm results more red ripple than wave?
Republicans underperform in midterms:Americans take a stand for decency as the GOP red wave turns to dust, surprising all of us
Georgia U.S. Senate runoff: Trump influence could help Democrat
The Trump effect is a powerful force in Georgia a presence that has benefited Democrats, not Republicans, in recent elections.
Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock is now hoping that trend holds true for one more cycle.
Trump is set to launch his 2024 presidential election bid in the coming weeks. What’s his first priority? Supporting his pal Herschel Walker’s bid for the U.S. Senate. Walker will face Warnock in a Dec. 6 runoff after neither candidate won a majority of votes in Tuesday’s general election.
Trump has impacted Georgia voter turnout unlike any other factor going back to 2020, a fact underscored by Tuesday’s results. With Trump all but ignoring the Georgia election and focusing his energies in other states, such as Ohio, Georgia Republicans swept all state government leadership positions as Democratic turnout sagged.
Consider other examples of the Trump effect in Georgia:
- A record number of Georgians turned out to vote Democrat in November 2020, propelling Joe Biden to the first Democratic presidential win in the state this century.
- An election-swinging number of Republicans sat out of the 2020 U.S. Senate runoffs after Trump told them their vote didn’t matter amidst his “Big Lie” claims. Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff won both runoff races, giving Democrats a U.S. Senate majority.
- Georgians of all political stripes took Republican ballots in the 2022 GOP primaries – Georgia is an open primary state – to repudiate Trump’s handpicked candidates. Only two of seven advanced to the general. Walker, a beloved football star, would have won the primary nod regardless of Trump’s endorsement.
Trump’s involvement in the race could be Warnock’s best hope. The winner won’t be determined by how many of Tuesday’s 81,000-plus third-party voters switch their votes to Warnock or Walker in the runoff, but by which candidate can turn out their voters for the second time in a month. For Democrats, that will depend on the Trump effect.
— Adam Van Brimmer, Savannah Morning News
A word about that ‘liberal media’
Republicans had hoped to make the midterm elections a thunderous statement on the failures of Democrats on everything from the economy to crime to immigration.
And you know who helped carry that narrative even more than right-wing politics and talking heads? The supposedly “liberal” mainstream media.
Most major media outlets — consistently denounced by Republicans as hives of socialist, Marxist liberal whatever — ran with the idea that Democrats were in for an electoral trouncing.
One New York Times headline read: “Democrats, on Defense in Blue States, Brace for a Red Wave in the House.”
A Washington Post headline read: “Emboldened GOP makes closing pitch as Democrats try to head off big losses.”
The inevitability of the “red wave” was everywhere in the supposedly liberal press, and certainly everywhere on Fox News and other conservative outlets. But then Election Day arrived and the wave didn’t.
It begs the question: Did news organizations wary of being labeled “liberal” let themselves get lured into the red-wave hysteria, fearing that pushing back against that narrative might lead to further accusations of liberal bias. (Republicans don’t deride the mainstream press just for kicks — they do it to put their thumbs on the scale.)
— Rex Huppke, USA TODAY
Turns out voters do care about abortion
Republicans didn’t listen to voters about the need for abortion care access, and it cost them dearly. The post-Dobbs wave, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer, proved to be a big motivator for voters across the political spectrum and that’s not very surprising.
We have known for years that American voters want reasonable access to abortion care for women, and see it as a question of personal liberty that the state should not be intervening heavily in, especially in the first trimester and even more so in cases of rape, incest, human trafficking or threat to the life of the mother.
Voters in California, Michigan and Vermont enshrined abortion healthcare rights in their state constitutions on Tuesday, and voters in Kentucky rejected an extreme anti-abortion measure on the ballot.
The lesson: Abortion was not a “summer issue.” Quite the opposite: Americans got used to 50 years of access to abortion care and they are not going to forget that in a few months, or years, even.
— Carli Pierson, USA TODAY
Have Republican voters finally moved past Trump?
On a night that would demoralize conservatives, the Republican Party took an important step toward recovery.
The headlines will tell you Joe Biden and Kathy Hochul and John Fetterman were the big winners on Tuesday. And they were. The Democrats had turned the red wave into a red backwash.
Nonetheless, it was a good night for the Republican Party. I would argue an exceptional night.
For at 8:01 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, a minute after the final polls closed in Florida, the national networks called that state’s governor’s race for Republican Ron DeSantis.
So large was his victory – nearly 20 points – that media wasted no time declaring him the winner.
Other Republican candidates might have fallen one by one Tuesday, but DeSantis in his red power tie and his wife, Casey, dressed in gold, exuded the vigor and optimism of a Republican tomorrow.
And with that, the Republican Party is taking its first confident steps away from Donald Trump. Ron DeSantis is the emerging leader of the party and his towering victory in Florida has only raised his stature.
The Trump era is coming to an end. Read the full column.
— Phil Boas, Arizona Republic
Is DeSantis the presidential frontrunner for 2024?:We just got through the midterms, but the DeSantis-Trump rivalry has already begun
No ‘red wave,’ but some states remain solidly scarlet
Led by Gov. Mike DeWine, Republicans swept nine statewide races in Ohio this election – and held a U.S. Senate seat.
J.D. Vance’s Senate victory as a first-time candidate will put a different kind of Republican representing Ohio in Washington than Portman and his predecessor George Voinovich. The political philosophy of the “Hillbilly Elegy” author from Middletown has been evolving, most notably from Trump critic to Trump supporter, but the Yale Law School alum will have some fresh ideas and new approaches.
For Vance’s opponent, Rep. Tim Ryan, his apparent role for national Democrats was to draw tens of millions of Republican dollars into the Ohio Senate race away from other races while not getting enough Democratic reinforcements for himself. Read the full column.
— Dan Sewell, Cincinnati Enquirer
Story Credit: usatoday.com