Briefing

The biggest Republican victories of the 2022 midterms

While there was no "red wave," all was not lost

While there was no "red wave" on election night like the media and polls predicted, some regions of the U.S. certainly saw a red ripple. Here are the states where Republicans netted major victories:

New York

One thing is clear: Republicans have a stronger hold in New York state than expected. While incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) was able to hold onto her seat against the Trump-backed Lee Zeldin (R), he did put up more of a fight than was anticipated in the historically blue stronghold. Zeldin garnered support in Long Island, with substantial leads in Nassau and Suffolk County. The state also showed an overall shift towards being more conservative in every county compared to 2020, per The New York Times

Along with supporting Zeldin, Long Island produced four Republican House wins, one of which was flipped from a Democratic seat, Politico explains. "The voters on Long Island focused on crime: crime, crime, crime," said outgoing state Sen. Phil Boyle (R). Zeldin, a Long Islander himself, made crime a key issue he pushed aggressively, a decision that paid off for Republicans in the area. "They were afraid for their safety and their pocketbooks," Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist, said of voters.

The Hudson Valley also saw major victories for the GOP. Democrat Josh Riley lost his race to Republican Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro for the open seat. The biggest win was Republican Mike Lawler defeating incumbent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Sean Patrick Maloney in the northern suburbs of New York City. Maloney is the first chairman of the House campaign committee to lose his re-election race since the 1990s, the Times writes. "I don't like to lose, but my opponent won this race. He won it fair and square. That means something," Maloney said in his concession statement.

Florida

Florida is as red as ever. The most significant victory was, of course, incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis defeating Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by almost 20 points. The result also showed a demographic shift, with many Latinos voting in favor of DeSantis when they previously voted for President Biden in 2020, seen through DeSantis' wins in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.

Such a substantial victory puts DeSantis in a good place to run for president in 2024.  Noah Shachtman, the Rolling Stone editor-in-chief, tweeted, "I never really took seriously the idea that DeSantis could beat Trump … until tonight." DeSantis is widely viewed as Trump's biggest potential competitor. 

In his victory speech, DeSantis said, "We not only won [the] election, we have rewritten the political map." True enough, Republicans won 20 of the state's 28 House seats, four of them being new Republican seats, reports the Tallahassee Democrat. Incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R) also held on to his congressional seat. 

DeSantis called it "a win for the ages," securing Florida as a Republican stronghold despite it being considered a swing state in the past few elections.

Iowa

Iowa is another swing state that may soon be reliably conservative. For one, incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) secured his eighth congressional term. The 89-year-old is expected to serve as president pro tempore of the Senate if the GOP secures the majority, the Des Moines Register reports. The incumbent Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) also held her position. While these outcomes were more or less expected, Democrats lost almost every race in the state — both on a federal and local level.

In Iowa's 1st Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) won against Democratic challenger Christina Bohannan, despite appearing at a campaign event with Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist and Jan. 6 attendee, writes Lyz Lenz in her newsletter Men Yell at Me. Bohannan later denounced Fuentes' views on Twitter, claiming she did not know his ideology beforehand. Voters could overlook her questionable associations, instead resonating with her rise from rural Iowa to a Harvard graduate. 

Lenz posits that the lack of reliable media outlets in the state requires candidates to be more scrappy, which the Democratic candidates were not. "[S]anctimony has never polled well or got good headlines," she writes.

Ohio

Ohio gained a big win with Trump-endorsed author J.D. Vance winning over Democrat Tim Ryan for the Ohio Senate seat. Once a Trump critic, even calling the former president "cultural heroin," Vance since repositioned himself. He won his race with 53.3 percent of the votes, keeping the seat previously held by Sen. Rob Portman (R) in the hands of the GOP.

Notably, Vance and Ryan shared similar backgrounds, both coming from steel towns that lost manufacturing jobs. However, their approaches to solving the problem varied, Politico reports. Voters were wooed by Vance's approval of Trump's use of import tariffs and his push to expand natural gas production. He also promised to strengthen border security, while calling Ryan out on his idea for electric vehicle subsidies.

Another big winner in Ohio was incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine (R), who held his seat with a very comfortable majority, with the state voting more Republican than in 2020. Also, 10 out of the 15 House seats in the state were won by Republicans.

Ohio has long been deemed a purple state, however, both Vance and DeWine were expected to win their races. According to Time, white voters made up two-thirds of the electorate in 2020. Some say the state's many college campuses are why it qualifies as a swing state. Elaine Clark, a 66-year-old Ohio resident, explained to Time, "We wouldn't be a swing state if we didn't have these universities. They're younger and more liberal, and they can vote."

However, others believe that the Democratic voters are present in the state, but they aren't actively voting. "Ohio is tough because it's been so gerrymandered. The numbers are there, though. People just need to vote," Ohio resident Naomi DeVore explained.

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