Manchin's Mad: A Democrat's Dissent

Ryan Heshmati

December 2, 2022

On November 8, 2022, Republicans lost Senate seats in Nevada and Pennsylvania. With the losses of Republicans like Adam Laxalt and Mehmet Oz, the Senate remains in control of the Democrats (with the vice president's tie-breaking vote), and the Republicans hold the House by a very slim margin. Before the election, the House of Representatives was believed to be firmly in the hands of Republicans, and even the Senate looked within their reach. However, yet again, analysts failed to read the signals of American voters in a midterm election with profound implications.

The Republican Senate, now an impossibility with the Democratic victory in Nevada, saw predictions from many, including the president of Americans for Tax Reform. However, it is worth noting ATR is a conservative Organization. These predictions were not baseless; it is almost a rule of thumb in politics that the ruling president's party loses the midterms. Poor party performance happened to President H.W. Bush in 1990 and President Obama in 2010 (although even with a net six-seat senate loss, the Democrats still held on). The climate also would seem to support unpopularity: inflation, a slowing economy, and a border crisis, which such severe issues are facing the country, what message are the voters sending with the underperformance of Republicans.

Emily Ekins and Jordan Gygi of the CATO Institute analyzed voter perspectives in the key Senate states of Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona. In all of the above states, more voters wanted a Republican-controlled Senate than the Republican candidate in their state to win. Such data suggests concerns about "candidate quality" were not overblown. For instance, Mehmet Oz drew criticism after being accused of not being a true Pennsylvanian; as aforementioned, he lost in his state's Senate election.

With the 2024 presidential elections coming up soon, some are reading into the midterm results to analyze the 2024 landscape. Redfield & Wilton Strategies ran a recent poll matching up Presidents Biden and Trump, which found President Trump trailing by only one percentage point to the incumbent. This matchup is far from guaranteed as while President Trump has announced his campaign for 2024, President Biden has not and might face primary challengers dissatisfied with the incumbent's performance. Even further, the political environment is ever-changing, and two years is more than enough time for voters to shift away from a candidate or ideology decisively. 

The 2022 Midterms did not go as some expected it. Voters rejected Republican Senate candidates in key races and offered the party only a slim majority in the House, leaving the 2024 pathway uncertain.