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In an election headlined by the surprising overperformance of national Democrats, defying conventional midterm expectations of governing party losses, American voters have given Republicans a narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives while once again delegating Senate control to Democrats. After the 2022 midterms, it’s clear that American voters are equally divided, as margins in the Senate (currently 51 D–49 R), House (222 R–213 D) and even governors’ mansions (26 R–24 D) are about as close as possible.

To put the scale of Democrats’ defiance of history into perspective, since 1902, there have been 30 midterm elections, which have averaged a gain or loss of 30 seats in the House and three in the Senate. In the last three midterms, that average has jumped to 40 seats in the House and four in the Senate. Staring down the current climate’s 40-year-high inflation, political historians and pundits predicted that Democrats would lose majorities in 2022.

Instead, the 118th Congress has convened with Democrats expanding their Senate majority and losing control of the House by a slim margin. Democrats will also see a new generation of leadership in the House, as new Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., made a historic and successful bid to succeed Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as the first Black American to helm a major U.S. political party in Congress, replacing the first and only woman to hold the speakership.

On the heels of John Fetterman’s, D-Pa., defeat of Mehmet Oz, R-Pa., to flip retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat, Democrats will return to the Senate majority. Equally as important were the key defenses of incumbents in Arizona and Nevada, where Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly and Catherine Cortez Masto, respectively, resisted competitive challenges in swing states. For their part, Republicans successfully defended five of their six open seats, with key wins from Ted Budd in North Carolina and J.D. Vance in Ohio. Key to the Republicans fending off a truly disastrous election was the successful reelection campaign run by Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, which limited Democratic pickup opportunities to one.

Making things interesting in Congress’lame-duck session was Sen. Rafael Warnock’s close victory against Republican challenger Herschel Walker on Dec. 6, cementing Democrats’ 51–49 Senate margin. With Warnock’s victory, all 29 Senate incumbents who ran for reelection won, for the first time in a century.

For the GOP, the absence of a broad “red wave” has already sparked recriminations among Congressional Republicans that will have immediate implications for the party’s strategy and priorities heading into the 118th Congress. With Republicans on pace to hold the all-important House majority by the same margin that Democrats enjoyed in the 117th Congress—approximately five seats—governing a slim and divided caucus will prove to be challenging.

The bottom line is that, following the 2022 midterm elections, the split government coming to Washington will be a reflection of the bitterly, evenly divided American electorate. The 2022 midterm election was little better than a stalemate, as it seemingly handed President Joe Biden and Democrats a moral victory while Republicans faltered under the 


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