Results are still being finalized in key congressional and state legislature races across the country, but one thing that became clear overnight is that the 2022 midterm elections were not the red wave of Republican wins many pundits forecasted.
Republicans are still expected to gain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but it doesn’t appear to be by the amount of seats predicted.
The U.S. Senate is still a toss-up, but Democrats seem to be in better shape to hold on to their slim majority than many thought going in.
It will all depend on the Senate races in Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. Whichever party wins two out of those three will win control of the Senate.
So, why wasn’t election night what Republicans hoped for? Here are three reasons.
Trump’s influence might have had a more negative effect than thought
Former President Donald Trump came out of the shadows quite a bit before Tuesday, hinting at at another run for the Oval Office in 2024 and holding campaign rallies for Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates.
But it seemed like most of the candidates he threw support behind lost.
In April, Trump endorsed Mehmet Oz in the race for a vacant Senate seat in Pennsylvania, but Oz was defeated by Democrat John Fetterman.
In New Hampshire, Republican Don Bolduc, backed by Trump, lost his bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan. But Gov. Chris Sununu, who has been at odds with Trump, won reelection easily.
It was a similar story in Georgia, where incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, a Trump opponent, won reelection comfortably over Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.
Trump also backed Herschel Walker in a Georgia Senate race, and it’s still too close to call between Walker and incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Trump endorsed Republican Kari Lake in the race for governor in Arizona, and it appears she is polling behind Democrat Katie Hobbs.
In Michigan, Trump also visibly threw his support around Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, but she was beaten handily by incumbent Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
One candidate Trump endorsed and campaigned for had a good night, and that was J.D. Vance, who won a Senate seat in Ohio.
Still, this couldn’t have been the launchpad to a potential 2024 campaign Trump hoped for.
Young voters make a difference
This year, 22 states have same-day registration, which means voters can register and cast a ballot at the same time.
In particular, young college students in those states really seemed to take advantage and make a difference.
For example, in Michigan, students at both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University waiting in long lines past the time polls officially closed in order to cast their votes.
Galvanized by issues such as abortion, gun control and mental health, it was apparent that young people wanted to participate, even if it was at the last minute.
Polls are becoming less reliable
In 2016, many polls showed Hillary Clinton with a healthy lead over Trump days before the election in the race for President.
Trump eventually won by a healthy margin.
In 2020, Democrats won back the presidency, key congressional seats and other races around the country, but it was much closer than polls indicated in the days leading up to the election.
Going into Tuesday, many thought a red wave of Republican support was likely, but it didn’t materialize.
Maybe polls don’t sample a wide enough range of voters, or maybe not enough people choose to participate in them, making it hard to get a full gauge of the voting landscape.
Whatever the reasons, polls have increasingly not become the true indicator of how elections will turn out.