With the 2022 midterm elections finally behind us, it is still somewhat hard to discern who exactly won and lost in these elections. The political history and significance of midterm elections can be a lot to unpack, and can even seem counterintuitive. So for the people who don’t spend hundreds of hours obsessively reading about American history (like I do), here is an easy guide to the winners and losers in the 2022 US midterm election.
For many reasons, the party in power never fares well in midterm elections. For example, after Obama got elected in 2008 and 2012, each respective midterm saw the Republicans win a majority in the house and/or senate, according to CNN reports. This has been the case for the last 50 years, and Republicans were expected to win massive leads in the house and possibly take back the Senate. While it’s still unclear if the Republican party will win the Senate, Republicans severely underperformed from historical expectations, taking only a narrow lead in the House. Therefore, I believe it's fair to say that the Republicans lost the election, with fingers pointing in every direction within the party as to who to blame.
Managing to likely hold a narrow majority in the Senate, and still holding great power in the House, Democrats expected far worse with this election. Democrats successfully mobilized around issues such as abortion rights and voter disenfranchisement, albeit to a lesser extent than they probably hoped. It's hard to say that the Democrats won this election, but they certainly did not lose, which is a far better outcome than expected.
Since Trump took power in the Republican party in 2016, two factions have emerged within the GOP, according to an article by David Lauter in the Los Angeles Times. While Trump securely commanded the party through 2016 and 2020, the midterm elections displayed mixed results for the Trump Party, with the loss of multiple Trump-approved candidates. Most notably, Lauren Boebert of Colorado’s third district, a strong supporter of Trump in what was thought to be a securely Republican District, was voted out of office in the midterm elections to almost everyone’s surprise. It is for these reasons that I believe Trump, though not on the ballot this election, certainly lost the 2022 midterm elections.
Groups such as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the Working Families Party (WFP) have been very quickly crawling back from the fringe of American politics. Big name junior politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib all fought off tough primary challenges, and went on to securely win their midterm elections. According to both DSA and WFP, not only did each group manage to keep their holds in both houses, but both groups elected more members to the legislative body, easily making socialists winners in the election.
According to a survey conducted by NPR, PBS, and Marist, abortion was the second hottest issue on voters minds going into the election. Evidently, the ruling by the Supreme Court on Roe V. Wade had gotten a lot of voters fired up, and in five states voters directly voted on ballot initiatives regarding reproductive health rights, from strongly red states like Kentucky, to Democratic strongholds like California. And according to the New York Times, pro-choice politics won on all five ballot initiatives, making abortion rights one of the bigger winners in the midterm elections.
Would you believe it if I told you slavery was still allowed in the United States? According to the 13th amendment of the United States Constitution, slavery is still allowed as a form of legal punishment, creating a lucrative multi-billion dollar industry of prison slave labor. However, the tide has slowly been changing since 2018, and in the 2022 midterm elections, three states decided to abolish slavery in its entirety, making slavery a loser in the 2022 midterm elections.
Here in Illinois, voters had the choice to vote on Amendment 1, a ballot initiative to enshrine worker’s rights in the constitution of the state of Illinois. With the majority of votes counted, voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of the amendment, with Illinois becoming the first state to fully ban deceptively named “right to work” laws, a type of rule that harms unions and workers. So, at least in the state of Illinois, worker’s rights took home a win.