Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


In the US midterm elections, questions abound

  • 15 November 2022
In what has become now the norm of American elections, seven days after our midterm vote we’re still waiting on the final results. As of now it seems likely that the Republicans will take the House of Representatives, although perhaps by a very slim margin. Meanwhile after winning elections in Nevada and Arizona, the Democrats will definitely keep control of the Senate, even with Georgia having to hold a runoff for one of its seats in December.

I think many of us are still trying to appreciate the exact import of this election. In recent weeks it had become a foregone conclusion that the Democrats were going to post big losses. Some of that is pinned to current issues like the rate of inflation or President Joe Biden’s relative unpopularity. But it’s also just the way that American politics today seems to work. The party in power loses seats halfway through.

What are we to make of the fact that that didn’t happen, or that we didn’t see anything like the protests and violence that ensued after the 2020 election? Here’s a couple of thoughts.

The press needs to examine the process by which it draws and offers conclusions

We’ve had quite a few elections in a row now where the results did not reflect press polling. The persistence of these discrepancies demand self-examination. Amongst other issues, the press seems more and more guided by a groupthink which takes one media outlet’s reporting — or in some cases just the headline on that report (welcome to News Twitter) — and repackages it as truth.

There’s also a problem in the conclusions that are drawn from various polls. Last week Florida Governor Ron DeSantis beat his opponent for governor by nearly twenty percentage points and won every district of the state. Given the controversial policies that he has enacted, like prohibiting sexuality and gender identity from being discussed in public schools, or denying abortions after 15 weeks even in cases of rape or incest, this kind of result would seem to be a surprise. (It is also worth noting, prior to the election the governor reset the state’s voting districts in ways meant to improve Republicans’ chances).

But in the days since the vote, some pundits and press groups have begun interpreting his win as a sign that DeSantis is clearly the 2024 Republican frontrunner for president. That is a huge leap to make. Yes, Florida is