DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are not necessarily parallel to the views of Bellarmine College Preparatory.
written by our collaborators at Bellarmine Political Review
by Ilesh Sundar ’26
The 2022 United States midterm elections were held amidst a historic backdrop: the highest inflation in forty years, the fall of guaranteed abortion rights nationally, and democracy’s darkest hour since the Civil War.
Naturally, the results of that election turned out surprising as well.
For most of the early campaign season, Republicans were heavily favored to win control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate while President Joe Biden flailed and failed to improve his historically low approval rating.
But in June of 2022, The Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision to strike down Roe v. Wade fundamentally altered the entire political calculus. No longer did voters view Democrats as the party in control of the direction of the country — voters saw Republicans as the ones enacting major policy changes, despite a unified Democratic trifecta.
As Biden unexpectedly racked up an impressive showcase of legislative victories (the Inflation Reduction Act, a $738B bill that spends $500B on climate and health care; the CHIPS and Science Act, a $280B semiconductor manufacturing bill; and the PACT Act, a $280B veterans’ health care bill), the narrative for his party’s prospects in the midterms dramatically shifted. Party insiders exuded optimism about retaining the Senate, and they allowed themselves to dream that Democrats could hold the House.
That all changed in an October bloodbath. Republicans gained ground in national polls and in key swing states, as major news outlets consistently found that voters cared more about inflation than they did about abortion. Suddenly, the Democratic momentum of the summer had all but vanished.
And then came Election Day.
Democrats stunned pundits, who had attempted to veer to the right after predicting rosy scenarios for the party in 2016 and 2020, by retaining their Senate majority and losing the House by a smaller margin than expected.
In the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress, Democrats expanded their Senate majority to 51 seats by holding Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, as well as flipping the open seat of Pennsylvania. The margins of victory are listed below:
Georgia: D+2.8 (in runoff)
Meanwhile, Republicans won all the Senate seats that they were heavily favored to win.
North Carolina: R+3.2
House of Representatives
In the House of Representatives, Republicans edged out a net gain of ten seats, far less than party leaders had expected, to finish with a 222–213 majority.
Democrats notably won many toss-ups and some upsets in a number of Republican-leaning districts, including a shock win in WA-03. However, New York and California Republicans’ unusual strength in key districts handed the party the wins necessary to recapture control of the chamber. (One of those flips belongs to none other than the embattled Rep. George Santos.)
Republicans saw their majority in the Governors’ Association shrink to 26–24 as Democrats continued their trend of overperformance. The party handily won Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maryland, narrowly held onto Oregon, Wisconsin, and Kansas, and barely eked out a win in Arizona.
Republican Joe Lombardo ousted incumbent Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak in Nevada for the only Republican gubernatorial flip. The GOP easily won Texas, Georgia, and Florida.
All in all, Republicans ended unified Democratic control in Washington, halting President Biden’s agenda and complicating the next two years of his presidency. But as November 8, 2022, turned into November 9, most Democrats were too overjoyed at the historically exemplary election results to care.