Contentious Midterm Congressional Elections unfold in US

This article was written and finalised on November 11th, 2022

American voters have taken to the polls to determine the composition of the incoming 118th Congress. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and 35 of the 100 in the Senate, have been contested in the Midterm elections, which many commentators have characterised as a test case for Biden’s presidency. Under the U.S Constitutional structure, the President relies on Congressional support in order to implement their legislative agenda. The ‘Red Wave’ hoped for by Republicans appears not to have come to fruition, as Democratic candidates have outperformed expectations.

Republicans are expected to retake the House, while Democrats are to retain control of the Senate after a crucial victory in Nevada. Voters appear to have rejected more radical Republican candidates affiliated with former President Donald Trump, whose more extreme wing of the party contends that Biden’s victory over Trump in November 2020 was fraudulent. The ‘stolen election’ myth is predicated upon false information, given a clear lack of any widespread evidence of voter fraud. More moderate Republicans such as Liz Cheney, who characterised the successful performance of moderate candidates as ‘a clear victory for Team Normal’, have condemned Trump’s impact on the party. 

Speaking to CNN, Cheney argued that Democrats and Republicans must: ‘come together and stand for fundamental democratic principles, stand for the rule of law. And that in order to defeat the anti-democratic forces at work in our country today, it’s going to require a level of bipartisanship that you might not have seen otherwise.’ Cheney argued that, despite the existence of serious ideological and policy-related disagreements between the two major parties, a moral obligation is incumbent upon both to protect fundamental democratic principles from far-right forces who seek to delegtimise the credibility of the electoral process.

Luke Savage recently wrote in Jacobin that the Midterms were ‘no victory for the Democrats, but they are a defeat for the GOP.’ He argued that Republican attempts at monopolising economic issues, such as inflation, and attributing them to the Biden administration had failed. He argued that the party had failed to anticipate public backlash against the recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and that Republicans have now alienated average voters. The Democrats now face a legislative ‘gridlock’ until 2024, and the task of promoting radical change on policy issues within the D.C ecosystem now appears more difficult than ever.

With the race tighter than anticipated, Biden now faces the challenge of promoting his policies through a House and Senate more divided than before. International commentators have observed increasing polarisation and fragmentation within the American political landscape. The Congressional Midterm elections are taking place in tandem with a number of other important votes, including local, state, and gubernatorial elections, and referenda on access to abortion services.