On Wednesday morning, many Americans woke up from a night of anxiety with an election hangover.
The biggest revelation? Nothing much has really changed.
As of this writing, Thursday morning, 10:30 a.m. EST, the balance of power in Congress is still undecided, but if there is a change, it will be tiny.
Democrats gained a seat in the Senate with three seats not yet called. At least one, the Georgia Senate seat, will head to a runoff, meaning we won't know the party for that seat for a month or more. Outstanding are the Arizona and Nevada races, with Democrat Mark Kelly leading in AZ and Republican Adam Laxalt leading in the other. If those seats split, control of the Senate will come down to the Georgia runoff between Rev. Raphael Warnock and football legend Herschel Walker.
There are two members of the Senate who are independents but have been somewhat reliable votes for Democrats. That would make the two parties even in votes. If either party claims two of three uncalled seats, that party will control the Senate. As it appears the Western seats will split, it will be up to Herschel Walker to win the Senate for the Republicans.
In the House of Representatives, there are nearly two dozen seats not yet decided. Many are in California, where polls closed late. Much of the state has only 50% of the vote counted. Analysts expect the Republican party to gain control in the House, but with a very slim majority if only one or two seats.
As Americans wait impatiently for election results, many states have instituted safeguards to ensure election integrity. Those safeguards, plus a general sense of needing to accurately count, will delay some results for days, even weeks.
In Kentucky, nothing changed at the federal level. Everyone who was there yesterday will be there tomorrow. All of the incumbents slid to easy victories. Morgan McGarvey won the only Democratically controlled seat at the federal level for Kentucky in the Third District.
In Pennsylvania, former Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has flipped the seat vacated by the retiring Republican Pat Toomey. He defeated T.V. doctor Mehmet Oz in a contentious race where Oz was accused of being from New Jersey, and Fetterman had a stroke during the campaign.
Lauren Boebert, the firebrand representative from Colorado whose brash attitude has caused a lot of derision and support, appears to be on the verge of losing her seat to a Democrat. With over 99% of the vote in, she's losing by only 60 votes. That seat will likely trigger an automatic recount, so it may be weeks before we know if Boebert will be returning to the Hill.
Governor Ron DeSantis slid to an easy victory in Florida, beating the Democratic opponent by 1.6 million votes. His supporters were cheering, "Two more years," as they expressed support for his potential for President against Donald Trump.
In Alaska, Republican Lisa Murkowski appears poised to lose her seat in the Senate to fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka. Because of the way Alaska runs its election, the seat will not change parties, but Murkowski has been losing popularity because of her moderate stance and frequent opposition to former President Trump. She is presently behind in her race by 3,200 votes, with 75% of precincts reporting.
All the members of “Squad” cruised to victory. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NY-14, Ilhan Omar, MN-5, Ayanna Pressley, MA-7, Rashida Tlaib, MI-13, Jamaal Bowman, NY-16, and
Cori Bush, MO-1, all retained their seats. None was a surprise as they are all in heavily Democratic districts and are very popular at home.
In Massachusetts, former Attorney General Maura Healey has been elected governor by nearly 30 points. Healey is the first open lesbian elected governor in the United States. She beat her opponent, Republican Geoff Diehl, by nearly twice the number of votes.
In Arizona, consistent election-denier, Kari Lake, is losing to Democrat Katie Hobbs by about 13,000 votes with 70% of the precincts reporting. Lake ran on an extremely pro-Trump agenda. Her opponent, Hobbs, was the Attorney General who pushed back against claims by Trump and his followers that the 2020 Presidential election was seriously flawed. Even before the counting had truly gotten underway, Lake cast doubts on the integrity of the results, despite a record number of poll watchers, new procedures, and a very meticulous and transparent count. It’s not clear if she will declare the election flawed if she wins.
These races and the notable losses have raised talk of the whinging of former President Donald Trump's political power. Trump campaigned with Oz and was very supportive, Boebert is a vocal Trump supporter, which led to her election, and DeSantis is seen as a serious challenger for Trump should both decide to run for President, despite Desantis's former status a major MAGA supporter, including campaign commercials that spoke almost exclusively about Trump. Herschel Walker, who would have outright lost in any other state, is a Trump supporter who has been unabashed in his feelings about Trump; Trump has reciprocated. Some analysts have noted, however, that Trump has been counted out in the past, and he keeps rising as a power in the party even after defeats.
Trump told his followers to look for a major announcement later this month. It's assumed he's planning on announcing his campaign for President and would have taken credit for a large red wave. It seems unclear that there's too much to take credit for right now other than a few individual races.
The Red Fizzle
The Republican party and many political observers had predicted a "red wave" across the country as voters were expected to rebel against President Joe Biden and an economy that's struggling. While employment numbers and income remain high, inflation, gas prices, and rising interest rates have Americans on a financial edge.
According to nearly every poll, the number one issue for voters was the economy, followed closely by abortion. The specter of Donald Trump has been over nearly every election. While some Republicans have been celebrating Trump’s endorsements and parroting his talking points, many others have quietly pulled away, fearing that the January 6th debacle, the constant denigration of election integrity, and the far-right wing of the party would be more of a hindrance than a help.
Regardless of how the election finally pans out, the Red Wave that had been expected across the U.S. appears to not have arrived. It’s possible, at this hour, that the most Republicans will get is a razor-thin majority in the House and status quo in the Senate, including losing one important GOP seat there.
Presumed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is expected to see challenges to his position because of what is being perceived as poor performance in the election. As the apparent leader of House Republicans, it was McCarthy's role to deliver a win, but that win might not come, and if it does, it will be very small. Even one or two defections by Republicans on any issues will stimy the party's effort to change the trajectory of the country.
One hope that many Republicans had for gaining the House would have been to stop the January 6th investigations and open investigations into Hunter Biden, COVID-19 origins, and election integrity. With a one or two-seat majority, if one materializes for the GOP, those investigations may not happen. Some moderate Republicans don't have the stomach for politically motivated investigations that will cost a lot of money and may tarnish the party's reputation. Those are the same criticisms that are being leveled at the January 6th Committee by Republicans across the country.
$16.7 Billion Later
According to OpenSecrets.org, the 2022 election for state and federal elections will cost about $16.7 billion. This doesn’t include the thousands of local races that also cost a lot of money.
Put in perspective, that's about $5 billion more than the Commonwealth of Kentucky will spend for its entire budget this year to run the state. Put another way, that money could pay tuition for all the students at U.K., University of Western Kentucky, and University of Louisville 16 times over. That number would educate about 1 million children in Kentucky for the whole year; meanwhile, Kentucky has less than 700,000 in all the public schools in the state.
In this case, it appears that spending nearly $17 billion changed nothing significantly. The federal and state governments saw few upsets, and there was no sweeping mandate for either party.
Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/american-flags-and-pins-on-white-background-4669109/
The Kentucky Daily