Ahead of the 2022 midterms, Republicans, former presidents, journalists, podcasters, and even some prominent Democrats like California governor Gavin Newsom were predicting a “red wave” of GOP victories that would flip control of Congress.
Former president Donald Trump claimed there would be a “red wave because of crime.” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas predicted not just a red wave, but a “red tsunami.” Radio host Joe Rogan said the wave would look like the elevators full of blood in the classic horror film The Shining.
The full election results won’t be known for days or even weeks, but from the data available, it seems the red wave hasn’t come to pass. Election forecasters like Politico say the Republican party is still on track to carry the House, while the Senate remains a toss up.
Regardless, the 2022 midterms won’t be remembered as a political bloodbath; even though the party rode into the election against an unpopular president, during an off year and high inflation and gas prices—all reliable predictors of a backlash against the party in the White House.
"Definitely not a Republican wave, that’s for darn sure," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told NBC.
As of Wednesday morning, the GOP had flipped a net six Democratic seats in the House, one more than the minimum level needed to take control, according to Reuters. However, the Democrats scored a few choice results of their own, including flipping a Republican Senate seat in Pennsylvania with John Fetterman’s victory over Dr Mehmet Oz.
The failure of the “red wave” to wash over the polls led a variety of political observers to mock the idea.
“So what you’re telling me is not only was the Red Wave a complete crock, but Joe Biden is actually on track to do better than most incumbent presidents do during the midterms?” political consultant Max Burns wrote on Twitter.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro joked that Republican hopes for the night had gone “from red wave to red wedding,” a massacre in the Game of Thrones fantasy series.
Some argued that the “red wave” was more media hype than on the ground political reality the whole time.
Journalist Wesley Lowery wrote on Twitter that it’s “striking how disconnected the dominant political media narrative of this election cycle - a red wave driven by inflation, ‘defend democracy’ not being a mobilizing message, and voter fear of rising crime and defund the police demagoguing - seems to have been from reality.”
Even some elected Republicans got in on the criticism.
“The red wave is not happening,” Rep Adam Kinzinger of Illinois wrote on Election Day. “Lots of wasted money by [House Minority Leader Kevin] McCarthy. He cannot be a happy man tonight.”
The red wave may not’ve hit, but Democrats still suffered some important losses.
In Ohio, the Trump-backed JD Vance won out over the Democrat Tim Ryan in the Senate race there, while liberal darlings Stacey Abrams of Georgia and Beto O’Rourke both lost their high-profile attempts to win a governor’s seat in a historically conservative state.
And in Florida, previously considered a swing state, the GOP now holds both senate seats, the governor’s office, and the entire state cabinet for the first time since the post-Civil War Reconstruction era.
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