When the first primary elections were held, Russian troops were on the outskirts of Kyiv, gas prices were rising rapidly, deer v. Wade was still the law of the land, and Queen Elizabeth II was alive. On Tuesday, when the last primaries before Election Day were held, the Russians were rapidly retreating from a Ukrainian offensive, gasoline prices had steadily fallen, states were enacting abortion bans and the line Several days of waiting had already begun to form across London to see the Queen’s coffin.
The 2022 primary season began March 1 in Texas and spanned the country over the course of six months before finally ending after Labor Day with Delaware, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. He has entered contests in 49 of the 50 states (plus a bonus primary date in New York after a court overturned his redistricting card, forcing a two-month split between the state’s governor’s primary and his gubernatorial primary). Congress).
As voters decided partisan nominations for thousands of state, federal, and local offices, the American political environment changed dramatically. Both parties have lost special elections in once secure seats, and the number of inquiries into Donald Trump has seemed to increase almost weekly.
But despite all that has changed, it has revealed consistent trends and clear winners and losers.
Loser: Senate Republicans
Recriminations are already starting right over how Republicans ended up nominating a slate of flawed candidates in swing states across the country, especially after a number of high-profile recruits chose not to run. in the first place. Already, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rick Scott, Chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC), have gone back and forth in indirect criticism after McConnell raised concerns last month about the “quality candidates” in the Senate races. This prompted an editorial by Scott to mock “treacherous talk”. While Scott’s financial handling of the NRSC has also come under criticism, it is the relatively weak candidates produced by the 2022 primaries that have raised the most concern.
Three popular Republican governors chose not to run for the Senate. In Arizona, limited-time Doug Ducey decided not to run after a barrage of criticism from Trump for his refusal to support efforts to nullify the 2020 election. In New Hampshire, incumbent Chris Sununu decided that he didn’t want to be in the Senate and instead sought re-election, and in Maryland, limited-term Larry Hogan also chose not to run.
Then Trump’s intervention in the primaries produced flawed candidates who have since struggled in recent polls, including Blake Masters in Arizona and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. In Arizona, Ducey would have been a much stronger candidate, and agents of both parties admit in Pennsylvania that Oz was an unusually weak campaigner.
Senate Republicans could still win seats and regain control of the chamber, but since they are forced to invest heavily in the Republican-leaning state of Ohio and let seats like Washington reach, which they considered optimistically a few months ago slip off the map, they are now likely to be well below what their best-case scenario looked like at the start of the cycle.
2022 was one of the most brutal years for congressional incumbents in modern history: 14 incumbents, eight Republicans and six Democrats, lost their primaries.
Several member-to-member races lost as a result of re-division. The most notable included a confrontation in Manhattan between two senior Democrats, Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, and in suburban Chicago, where two-term incumbent Sean Casten beat first-term Democrat Marie Newman after Newman was implicated in a corruption scandal.
Many Republicans, however, lost not because of new cards but because of the former president. Trump has gone out of his way to campaign against Republicans who voted for impeachment or otherwise angered him. In two member-vs.-member primaries, Trump backed Mary Miller against Rodney Davis in Illinois and Alex Mooney against David McKinley in West Virginia. Although Davis and McKinley opposed impeachment, and Davis, as the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, may have been the most successful GOP member in fending off the Jan. 6 committee. , they weren’t MAGA enough in Trump’s eyes.
But Trump also notably campaigned against impeachers seeking re-election, notably in Wyoming where Liz Cheney lost by nearly 40 points, but also Peter Meijer in Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington. The bottom two both lost to controversial Trumpists in competitive districts.
Winner: MAGA Republicans
Republicans elected in 2022 will be much more MAGA — meaning more into Trump and Trumpism — than those currently in power. At least eight of the 10 House Republicans and two of the seven Senate Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump will not be in office next year. With the exception of Georgia, where Trump’s bid to push the Republican slate statewide failed, candidates endorsed by the former president have done very well in the primary election.
Even if many of these candidates lose their general elections (like the Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidates in Massachusetts and Maryland), there will be fewer non-MAGA GOP proxies. This narrows the pipeline of Trump doubters in future races, as many candidates have had to at least pretend to be the former president’s false claims about the 2020 election in order to win their primaries.
Loser: The far left
Far-left anti-Israel candidates suffered defeat after defeat in the primaries. Beginning in Ohio with Shontel Brown beating Nina Turner handily in a rematch of Brown’s victory in the 2021 special election, Democratic primary voters have repeatedly rejected candidates on the far left of their party.
This culminated in the New York congressional primary in August where Yuh-Line Niou, an ardent NIMBY who supported the fringe BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, considered anti-Semitic by many, lost the race in a district of Congress with one of the largest Jewish voting populations in the country. Most voters supported three other more traditional progressives, including winner Daniel Goldman as well as City Council member Carlina Rivera and Westchester representative Mondaire Jones. While there were occasional bright spots — including Summer Lee’s narrow victory in a Pittsburgh-based district — it was clear that the political tide has ebbed for those on the left just two years after Jamaal Bowman in New York and Cori Bush in Missouri have knocked out longtime starters.
Not only has the battlefield become more balanced as the incumbents at risk of a far-left primary better prepare for the challenges and outside groups have invested heavily in a number of races, but the political winds have changed in recent years. Slogans like “defund the police”, which had a brief moment in the air, became politically toxic, while Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 Democratic primaries and then the general election showed a model for that mainstream Democrats are succeeding after many on the left were disappointed by successive defeats of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The more traditional progressives won primary victories. Two incumbents who helped block Joe Biden’s reconciliation plan in the House have lost re-election. In Oregon, incumbent Kurt Schrader, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, lost to challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, and in Georgia, Lucy McBath defeated Carolyn Bourdeaux in a two-incumbent battle.
Almost from the time Joe Biden was declared the winner in 2020, experts in Washington have been looking ahead to try to predict what would happen in 2022.
At one point in 2021, Democrats were optimistic that the repulsion of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the end of the Covid-19 pandemic would break Trump’s grip on American politics and begin a new progressive era. At some point in 2022, Republicans watched Biden’s endorsement numbers plummet as inflation and gas prices soared, and predicted a red wave where the GOP would score landslide-like victories mid-term in 1994 and 2010.
Increasingly, however, based on the polls, it looks like 2022 will be a continuation of the grim trench warfare of 2020, when Biden defeated Trump and the Democrats narrowly won a Senate tie in the second round of Georgia, but Republicans won 15 House seats and narrowed. majority of Democrats to a handful of seats. While the GOP is still favored to take control of the House, there’s now a slim chance Democrats could hold the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade seems to be the main factor in favor of the Democrats.
But the ruling party has won House seats only twice since World War II, and there are other reasons Democrats are tempering their recent optimism.
Instead of what either party thought was possible for the past couple of years, it’s likely that a divided country will once again be represented in a divided Congress and the election results will just look like the lawsuit of the Trump era of American politics more than any sort of major change.