Biden leads Democrats to best midterm results for first-term president's party in 20 years


Republicans significantly underperformed the prediction of a 2022 'red wave.'

With results still being tallied in the 2022 election, President Joe Biden is on track to see the most successful results for a sitting first-term president's party in a midterm election. Biden is forecast to outperform his two immediate predecessors, Donald Trump and Barack Obama.

The New York Times, using election returns and additional data, has forecast a 13-seat majority in the House of Representatives for the Republican Party. The Democratic Party currently holds a majority of eight seats.

The Times is forecasting that Democrats are likely to retain control of the Senate after wins by John Fetterman in Pennsylvania and incumbent Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire. The Senate is currently tied at 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tie-breaking vote for a Democratic majority.

Prior to the 2022 election, the best performance by a first-term president's party during a midterm race was in 2002, when Republicans won eight House seats under President George W. Bush.

The projected loss under Biden of 13 House seats is much smaller than the 40 seats Republicans lost in the 2018 midterm elections when Trump was president and the 63 House seats lost by Democrats under Obama in the 2010 midterm contest.

Similarly, there were 13 seats lost by Democrats in the 2014 election during Obama's second term, and Bush saw a 30-seat swing to the Democrats in the 2006 midterm election.

Republicans significantly underperformed the prediction of a 2022 "red wave" ushering in dozens of new GOP members of Congress.

In November 2021, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy predicted that Democrats would lose more than 60 seats in the upcoming election.

"It'll be more than 70 [Democratic seats] that will be competitive," McCarthy told reporters. "There's many that are going to lose their races based upon walking off a cliff from Nancy Pelosi pushing them."

Instead, incumbent Democratic House members won key races in districts that had been targeted by the Republican Party as pickup opportunities.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Rep. Jennifer Wexton defeated their Republican opponents in Virginia. In Ohio, despite the victory of Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur defeated pro-Trump Republican J.R. Majewski, who was dogged by multiple controversies during the campaign.

Democrats also took control of governorships that were previously held by Republicans. Wes Moore defeated a pro-Trump Republican candidate to become the first Black governor in Maryland history, while Maura Healey will be sworn in as governor of Massachusetts as the first out lesbian to be elected to a governorship in the nation.

Exit polls showed voters prioritizing many of the key national issues Biden has emphasized.

In ABC News exit polling, voters ranked abortion as their second-most important issue behind inflation. Six out of 10 voters said abortion should be legal in most cases and criticized the decision of the conservative-led Supreme Court to throw out Roe v. Wade.

Biden has described the court decision overturning Roe's affirmation of a constitutional right to abortion as a "sad day" for the United States and called the ruling "radical" when it was first leaked to the press in May.

Voters also shared Biden's concerns about the risk to the democratic process presented by right-wing supporters of Trump. In Associated Press VoteCast exit polling, 44% of respondents said democracy was their primary consideration when voting.

On Nov. 2, Biden made a speech emphasizing the risks to American democracy: "My fellow Americans, we're facing a defining moment, an inflection point. And we must — with one overwhelming, unified voice — speak as a country and say there is no place — no place — for voter intimidation or political violence in America, whether it's directed at Democrats or Republicans. No place, period. No place ever."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.