Republicans had a field day in Ohio Tuesday evening, emerging victorious in every statewide race and retaining their majority on the Ohio Supreme Court, further distancing the state from its waning battleground status. Among the victors were Republicans J.D. Vance and Mike DeWine, who comfortably won their races for United States Senate and governor, respectively.
In the weeks leading up to the 2022 midterm elections, some forecasters and politicians alike predicted a “red wave” — that Republican candidates would gain an overwhelming majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives. While that may have come to fruition in Ohio, President Joe Biden summarized the nationwide results of the elections and responded to these predictions in one fell swoop: “It didn’t happen.”
As of Wednesday night, results from the midterm elections are still rolling in, and control of both the House and Senate remains up in the air. On Wednesday morning, the New York Times gave Republicans a 83% chance of gaining control of the House, and Democrats a 66% chance of maintaining control of the Senate.
The Associated Press projects Democrats and Republicans to hold 48 senate seats each; races remain uncalled in Nevada and Arizona. As of Wednesday night, Republican Adam Laxalt leads the Nevada race by approximately 20,000 votes with 79% of the vote in, and Democratic Incumbent Mark Kelly leads in Arizona by almost 100,000 votes with 70% counted. The Georgia contest will advance to a runoff, as neither Raphael Warnock nor Herschel Walker met the 50% threshold for election in the state. In Alaska, which uses ranked-choice voting, the top two candidates (both Republicans) have advanced to the final round, in which ballots from voters who ranked eliminated candidates first will be re-sorted for whichever remaining candidate they ranked highest. In the House, where 218 seats are needed for a majority, Republican wins have been called in 207 districts, with 183 for Democrats, and most of the outstanding races on the west coast.
Nationally, returns show that Republicans fell short of a “red wave,” and while according to the New York Times they will likely take control of the House, the Senate remains up in the air. Stymieing Republicans’ hopes for a tsunami on the Democratic side were candidates like John Fetterman, who flipped a Pennsylvania Senate seat, defeating Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in one of the most closely watched races in the country. Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Jacob Smith ’12 remarked on the historic nature of Fetterman’s flip: “It’s just very hard in this era of polarization for the president’s party to flip Senate seats unless they already lean to the party,” he said.
Smith also commented that he is surprised by the Democrats’ relatively strong overall showing. “We don’t know yet what the exact margin will be in the House and the Senate, but to the extent to which there are losses, they’re likely to be much smaller than [they have been in recent history],” he said Wednesday afternoon. “Recent presidents have generally had really bad midterms.”
Here in Ohio, Representative Tim Ryan was defeated by challenger J.D. Vance, who will become the state’s next U.S. Senator, filling the seat left vacant by retiring Senator Ron Portman. “We’ve had a good night in the Ohio Republican Party,” Vance said in his victory speech. Notably, Vance did not mention former President Donald Trump in his speech, despite receiving Trump’s endorsement. “We need better leadership in Washington, D.C., and that’s exactly what I promise to fight for every single day,” he said.
Democrats fared better in Ohio House races, where they won several competitive races: Representative Marcy Kaptur held on to OH-9, Greg Landsman beat incumbent Representative Steve Chabot in OH-1 and Emilia Sykes won an open seat in OH-13. Kaptur’s win will make her the longest serving congresswoman in U.S. history.
While results were mixed on the national level, a red wave hit Ohio on the state level, as Republicans handily won offices including governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Smith said that the result proves that Ohio, and several other states which have also long been considered swing states, are no longer competitive in the same way. “Ohio has become a red state. Ohio, Iowa and Florida really aren’t battleground states anymore.”
Republicans found similar success in this year’s Ohio Supreme Court races, sweeping all three and retaining their four-to-three seat majority. In the race for Chief Justice, Republican Justice Sharon Kennedy defeated Democratic Justice Jennifer Brunner by double digits, succeeding outgoing Republican Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. Though the partisan composition of the Court has not changed, O’Connor often sided with Democrats on decisions pertaining to abortion and redistricting, while Kennedy has been a reliably conservative voice on the bench.
Further, State Issues 1 and 2 both passed. Issue 1 will require courts to consider public safety when setting bail. Issue 2 makes citizenship a voting requirement statewide, banning local officials from allowing non-citizens to vote.
Locally, according to unofficial results from the Knox County Board of Elections, all three county levies passed — replacement levies for Knox Public Health and the Knox County Parks District, along with a renewal levy for the Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Additionally, College Township voted to pass a Fire and Emergency Medical Services levy.
Looking ahead, control of the Senate may not be determined until the Georgia run-off on Dec. 6. Smith said he expects whether or not the race is decisive to have a significant impact on voter turnout and the race’s result. “If it’s not decisive, it will be majorly important because every Senate seat is valuable, but there may be some voters who vote differently if it’s decisive versus not decisive.”
With the midterms soon in the rearview mirror, attention is already turning to the 2024 presidential election. Former President Donald Trump will hold a rally on Nov. 15, at which some expect he’ll announce a presidential bid. President Joe Biden said in a press conference Wednesday night that, while he currently plans to do so, he will decide next year whether or not to run for re-election.