“Red wave” predictions fizzle but 2022 midterms won’t be the last critical election

(Source: Pexels)
(Source: Pexels)

Election day came and went but I can’t say it didn’t feel elongated. I was on edge most of Nov. 7, 2022. How could I not be? Here in California we were braving a rare rainstorm that lasted all day and were on the eve of an even rarer ominous blood moon eclipse on the day Republicans had predicted would result in a “red wave.” By the time Tuesday came to a close, it was clear I should be as leery of political prognosticators as I should superstition — they can amount to the same unmaterialized predictions for the future.

Just a week prior, in an MSNBC interview, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi projected confidence Democrats would retain the lower chamber. I have to admit, I thought she was either puffing up her chest or heavily medicated. Yet, here we are at the end of the historic week and Democrats not only retained control of the senate, they have a viable, slim chance to retain the House of Representatives.

The premonition of a “red wave” that was supposed to flood the lower chamber and make room for 30, 40, or possibly 50 seats according to Senator Ted Cruz, barely made a splash. President Biden, who is suffering from low approval ratings, has left his mark as one of few presidents with the least losses in the House during his first term — a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in at least 40 years.

And let’s not forget the astonishing results of many of the governors races that surpassed expectations and stopped election-denying candidates in their tracks. Scary Flake is already casting doubt in Arizona as Katie Hobbs, who polls consistently had either neck and neck or trailing Lake, is looking more likely to become governor.

America, especially swing voters and perhaps some moderate Republicans, got the point: this election was as critical as it gets. The threats to democracy were not empty by any stretch of imagination. It’s hard to trust claims from a party that Putin was literally rooting for on election day genuinely has the best interest for American democracy at heart.

The 20222 midterm results signaled America was fed up. It isn’t just the Trump cronies either. The shenanigans from Elon Musk, the vitriolic right-wing attacks on Pelosi and her husband who was literally attacked by a mad man, the promises to impeach Biden for nothing substantial by any means, it all pushed Americans to the brink of no (immediate) return for Republicans.

As heartening as it was to see democracy unfold in real time, the recent years of subversion and incivility by many Republicans cannot be forgotten. This will be a tougher task; Americans are prone to amnesia. I can’t help but make my own prediction: for at least the next 20 years, Americans are going to have to go to the polls every two years, as they should. The executive branch is only so influential, and Republicans may not be ready to come to their senses. The game playing, fear mongering, the racial scapegoating, it’s not really new to politics, and certainly not to the right. But it will take more than one shellacking for the Republican Party to atone for their sins.

Still, much can change by 2024. I wish I could lean into my crystal ball and pronounce an honest reckoning within the Republican Party will take shape after this year’s midterms, but but the glass dome is hazy. Preserving democracy will hinge on America’s ability to recognize who is truly a loyal advocate for democracy. As we’ve witnessed with this election, any prediction can be flawed, no matter what we see. What’s important is what we believe, and if that belief is that our voices should matter, then no fortuneteller or poll will ever stand a chance.