2022 Midterm Elections


President Biden and the Democrats maintained control of the Senate but lost control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections. (Photo credit: Greg Nash)

Rohit De, Staff Writer

Historically, the president’s party performs poorly in midterm elections. For instance, Republicans lost 41 seats in the House of Representatives in the middle of President Donald Trump’s term[1], and Democrats lost 63 House seats in the middle of President Barack Obama’s first term[2]. According to FiveThirtyEight, President Joe Biden had only a 41.4% approval rating and a 53.5% disapproval rating on Election Day, which was similar to President Trump’s approval ratings around the 2018 midterm elections[3]. The last time a President’s party won both the House and the Senate in a midterm election was in 2002, when President George W. Bush had a high approval rating as a result of his response to 9/11[2].

In Massachusetts, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey defeated Republican former state representative Geoff Diehl, 63.5% to 34.9%, to become the next Governor of Massachusetts, succeeding retiring Republican Charlie Baker. Mayor Kim Discroll (D) of Salem is the lieutenant governor-elect. Healey became the first woman to be elected governor of Massachusetts, and she and Driscoll will make Massachusetts one of the first states (along with Arkansas) to have a female governor and lieutenant governor at the same time[4]. Healey will also become only the second Democratic governor of Massachusetts since 1990.
Democrats kept control of the State Legislature and swept all of Massachusetts’s statewide offices, too. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and Treasurer Deb Goldberg were both re-elected, while former Boston City Council president Andrea Campbell and state senator Diana DiZoglio were elected Attorney General and Auditor, respectively [5]. All nine of Massachusetts’ Democratic representatives in Congress easily won re-election, too; Jake Auchincloss of the 4th district (containing Attleboro) ran unopposed[6]. In Bristol County, Mayor Paul Heroux of Attleboro (D) narrowly defeated 25-year incumbent Thomas Hodgson (R) to become the next sheriff of Bristol County[7]. Ballot questions raising taxes on millionaires (Question 1), regulating dental insurance (2), and allowing non-legal U.S. residents to obtain driver’s licenses (4) passed, while a ballot question regulating liquor licenses and the sale of alcoholic beverages (3) failed[6].

In neighboring Rhode Island, incumbent governor Daniel McKee (D), who became governor after Gina Raimondo became the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, won election against Republican Ashley Kalus, 58.1% to 39%. Rhode Island’s 2nd congressional district had a competitive race, where Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D) defeated former Cranston mayor and gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung (R), 50.5% to 46.8%, in a rather close race for the district[6].


Heading into election night, the United States Senate was slightly favored to flip to the Republicans. FiveThirtyEight’s prediction model gave the Republicans a 59% chance to win the Senate, with them winning 51 Senate seats on average[8]. Democrats held a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie breaking vote. Democrats were able to hold on to a seat in New Hampshire, while Republicans held seats in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Ohio. Democrats were also able to flip a Republican-held seat in Pennsylvania, with Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman defeating celebrity doctor, Mehmet Oz. However, the Senate was still undecided after election night, with Democratic-held seats in Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia still up for grabs. The Senate race in Georgia was projected to go to a runoff election, which will take place on December 6. On Friday, November 11, Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly was projected to win re-election in Arizona, and Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto came back to narrowly win re-election in Nevada on Saturday, giving the Democrats a 50-49 majority in the Senate[6][11]. The Georgia runoff election between Senator Raphael Warnock and former football player Herschel Walker will not determine Senate control, unlike the runoffs after the 2020 elections.

After winning the House of Representatives 222-213 in the 2020 elections[9], Democrats held a 220-212 majority, which they were expected to lose as a result of President Biden’s poor approval rating and redistricting. The Republicans were expected to make sizable gains in 2022; FiveThirtyEight gave them an 84% chance to win the House, with them winning 230 seats on average (a net gain of 17 from 2020)[10]. However, the Republicans made only narrow gains in the House; Democrats were able to win many competitive races in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina[6]. Democrats still had a chance to take the House by Sunday, but Republicans eventually clinched control of the House on Wednesday, November 16, more than a week after Election Day[12]. Republicans are set to hold 222 seats in the House of Representative, while Democrats will hold 213 seats[6], which is an exact mirror of the House results from 2020. Republicans will have a net gain of only 9 seats compared to 2020, but that gain is still enough to flip the House. Had Democrats performed better in New York, where Republicans flipped 4 seats and held 1 very competitive seat, they could have maintained control of the House by a 218-217 margin[6]. Nevertheless, President Biden celebrated the fact that he “lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than any Democratic president’s first midterm election in at least 40 years”[13].

Republican Kevin McCarthy of California looks likely to become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. However, because the Republicans’ majority is so narrow, he would need almost every Republican to get him to the required 218 votes, which is not fully guaranteed; he won an internal nomination contest 188-31, but remains confident that he can obtain the votes he needs to become Speaker[14]. Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) of California (whose husband Paul was recently the victim of a violent attack) announced that she would be retiring from House leadership after leading House Democrats for 20 years. The second-highest ranking House Democrat, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, is also stepping down from leadership. Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York is set to become the next Democratic House leader, while Representatives Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of California are also set to newly serve in leadership positions[15].


Speaker Nancy Pelosi is stepping down from House leadership after leading House Democrats for 20 years. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)


Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy looks to become the next Speaker of the House as Republicans flipped the chamber. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In addition to flipping the Massachusetts governorship, Democrats flipped governor races in Maryland and Arizona, and held on to governorships in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and New York, the latter two being surprisingly competitive. Republicans held seats in Georgia, Texas, and Florida (which Governor Ron DeSantis won by over 19 points), and they flipped a governorship in Nevada[6]. In the same tweet applauding the Democrats’ House results, President Biden celebrated the Democrats’ “best midterms for Governors since 1986”[13].

Even before the final results for the 2022 midterms were tallied, there was even bigger news regarding the 2024 presidential election. On Tuesday, November 15, a week after Election Day, former President Donald Trump (R) announced that he would be running for president for a third time[16]. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election but lost re-election to Joe Biden in 2020. Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis have polled as favorites in a hypothetical Republican primary, with DeSantis’s polling improving after his Election Day performance[17][18]. If Trump wins through the Republican primary again, he would potentially set up a rematch of the 2020 presidential election.

Former President Donald Trump (R) announced his third run for the presidency a week after Election Day. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Heading into 2023, President Biden will still have a Democratic Senate on his side, although the narrowness of the majority could pose problems for him. However, he will have to work with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, likely led by a Speaker Kevin McCarthy, that could oppose him in many different ways. Should he run for re-election in 2024, which he so far plans to do, he will likely face a rematch with former President Donald Trump.

Article Sources:
[1] President Trump’s midterm performance – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_United_States_House_of_Representatives_elections [2] Historical midterm elections – NPR

https://www.npr.org/2022/11/13/1136103595/the-midterms-didnt-produce-a-wave-heres-what-th ats-meant-historically
[3] FiveThirtyEight presidential approval tracker – FiveThirtyEight https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/biden-approval-rating/
[4] 2022 Massachusetts gubernatorial election – Wikipedia
[5] Massachusetts statewide election results – WBUR
https://www.wbur.org/news/2022/11/08/massachusetts-2022-election-governor-ag-ballot-questio n-results
[6] 2022 midterm election results – Associated Press (AP) results via Google Search https://www.google.com/search?q=2022+midterm+elections
[7] Bristol County Sheriff Results – MassLive
https://www.masslive.com/politics/2022/11/2022-mass-election-results-berkshire-county-sheriff- race-thomas-bowler-v-paul-heroux.html
[8] FiveThirtyEight Senate election forecast – FiveThirtyEight https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2022-election-forecast/senate/
[9] 2020 House election results – Wikipedia
[10] FiveThirtyEight House election forecast – FiveThirtyEight
[11] Senate holds for Democrats – Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/world/us/democrats-await-nevada-election-result-that-could-seal-their-u s-senate-majority-2022-11-12/
[12] Republicans flip the House – Associated Press (AP) https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-house-control-79475a4fc11e4375cd0dded65 1b9eede
[13] President Biden’s tweet celebrating House & gubernatorial results – Twitter

[14] Kevin McCarthy as Republican House leader – NPR
https://www.npr.org/2022/11/15/1136811629/mccarthy-nominated-house-speaker-gop-republican s
[15] New House Democratic leadership – Axios https://www.axios.com/2022/11/17/congress-house-democrats-minority-leaders-plan
[16] Trump announces presidential run – NPR
[17] Republican presidential primary polling – Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2024_Republican_Party_presidential_primaries#Nationwide_pollin g
[18] Republican presidential primary polling – FiveThirtyEight https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-primary-r/2024/national/

Image Sources:
President Biden (Greg Nash) –
https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/3724995-however-the-midterms-unfold-the-nation-await s-bidens-response/
House Minority Leader McCarthy (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) – https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-house-control-79475a4fc11e4375cd0dded65 1b9eede [12]
Speaker Pelosi (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) – https://www.axios.com/2022/11/17/nancy-pelosi-announcement-stepping-down (linked from [15]
Former President Trump (Andrew Harnik/AP) – https://www.npr.org/2022/11/15/1137052704/trump-2024-president-campaign [16]
Election Results from Various News Sites:
Associated Press (AP):
https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections?utm_source=apnewsnav&utm_medium=hub CNN: https://www.cnn.com/election/2022
Fox News: https://www.foxnews.com/elections
NPR: https://www.npr.org/live-updates/midterm-election-results-2022-11-10
Resources from FiveThirtyEight (https://fivethirtyeight.com/) (election analysis site): Midterm Forecast: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2022-election-forecast/ [8][10]
Polls: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/ [18]
Presidential Approval Tracker: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/biden-approval-rating/ [3]