Before the midterms, I offered my top 10 questions for voters to answer. Here are their responses, as we know them so far:
No. This year, three Republican incumbents lost on Election Day: Steve Chabot of Ohio, Maya Flores of Texas — who had just flipped the seat in a special election — and Yvette Herrell of New Mexico. In addition, the GOP lost two seats held by Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump — Peter Meijer of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state. Both were defeated in GOP primaries by MAGA challengers who went on to lose to Democrats in the midterm elections.
2. During GOP primaries, Democrats spent tens of millions of dollars to get “poison pill” MAGA candidates nominated. How did those MAGA candidates do?
The strategy was immoral, cynical … and effective. All the Democrat-backed MAGA candidates — including Senate candidate Don Bolduc in New Hampshire, congressional candidate John Gibbs in Michigan, and gubernatorial candidates Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Dan Cox in Maryland — lost.
3. Did any Republicans pay a price for the Supreme Court’s abortion decision?
All the Republican governors — in Ohio, Georgia, New Hampshire, Florida and Texas — who signed laws restricting abortion won reelection. But the Fox News Voter Analysis showed that voters ranked abortion the second-most important issue facing the country (10 percent), trailing far behind the economy (48 percent) but narrowly ahead of immigration (9 percent) and crime (8 percent). So, abortion might have helped put some Democrats over the top in tight House and Senate races, many of which were closer than they should have been because of extreme GOP candidates.
4. Did ticket-splitters show up?
In droves. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) got 203,130 more votes than Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker. If Walker had won those votes, he would be a senator-elect today. In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) got 76,820 more votes than Bolduc. Bolduc lost by 56,682 votes, which means that ticket-splitters made the difference. In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) got 380,120 more votes than Senate candidate J.D. Vance, but that difference did not prevent Vance from winning. In Nevada, GOP gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo won with 6,989 more votes than Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, who lost by 7,928 votes. So, even without ticket-splitters, Laxalt still would have lost by 939 votes.
In those four states alone, 667,059 voters pulled the lever for the GOP candidate for governor but not Senate — collectively a massive vote of no confidence in the GOP’s Senate picks.
5. Did the Trump-backed Senate candidates make it?
Four lost: Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Bolduc in New Hampshire, Laxalt in Nevada and Blake Masters in Arizona. Two won: Vance in Ohio and Ted Budd in North Carolina — both thanks to a massive rescue effort by Sen. Mitch McConnell (more on that below). Walker made it to a runoff in Georgia — thanks, again, to McConnell (R-Ky.). If Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu had been the Republican Senate nominees in their states, the GOP would probably hold the majority today.
6. Was there an opportunity cost to bailing out Trump-backed Senate nominees?
Yes. The $32 million that McConnell-aligned super PACs had to spend to rescue Vance siphoned critical resources away from efforts to widen the electoral map and flip Democratic Senate seats. In Nevada, the GOP lost by 0.77 percent. Could a few million dollars more have made the difference?
7. How much did Trump’s MAGA, Inc. super PAC spend in the general election to shore up candidates he championed in the primaries?
Trump’s super PAC, Make America Great Again, Inc., spent a grand total of … $15.03 million on Senate races. By contrast, McConnell-aligned PACs spent $248.8 million. Trump helped nominate weak candidates and then left them to fend for themselves.
8. What happened to so-called GOP voter suppression in Georgia?
Early voting shattered the state’s record for a midterm and outpaced the 2016 presidential election, with 2,288,889 ballots cast. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Black voters accounted for 29 percent of early voters, outpacing 2020 when they made up just over 27 percent. When the final votes were counted, 3,964,926 Georgians cast ballots, slightly more than the 3,949,905 who voted in the 2018 midterms. So much for “Jim Crow 2.0.”
9. Will Republicans reach 54 seats in the Senate, which would put them in striking distance of a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in 2024?
Quite the opposite. Republicans could actually lose one net seat if Walker fails in the upcoming runoff. For the second election in a row, Trump cost Republicans control of the Senate. But Republicans are almost certain to take back the chamber in 2024, when the field is heavily tilted toward the GOP — provided they learn from this year’s mistakes.
10. If Republicans win in a rout, will Democrats turn on Biden and begin openly urging him to step aside in 2024?
Far from a GOP rout, Biden’s first midterm performance was better than that of any president since John F. Kennedy (except for George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks) — despite the worst inflation in 40 years, the worst crime wave since the 1990s and the worst border crisis in U.S. history. If Biden decides to run again, it is unlikely that any Democrat will challenge him.