WASHINGTON — The 2022 midterm elections were full of surprises.
Republicans began the year favored by scoring big victories, but fell short and barely took control of the House. Democrats defied the odds as the ruling party to expand their majority in the Senate and win two gubernatorial seats.
In swing states, and even in some red areas, voters rejected many Republican candidates up and down the ticket, including those endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
And the Democrats, despite outperforming in areas difficult for the party, collapsed spectacularly in one of their strongholds.
These are some of the most impressive results.
Lake Kari catches fire
Kari Lake, the charismatic former TV host in Arizona’s largest media market, Phoenix, and MAGA brand protégé, was the favorite to become the state’s next governor after a campaign in which she emphatically embraced false Trump’s claims of a stolen election. Lake was widely viewed as the election-denying candidate with the best chance of winning a statewide race in a key battleground in the 2022 election. Nearly every poll down the stretch showed her leading her Democratic opponent. , Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s outgoing secretary of state, who was facing internal criticism for what some in the party called a lackluster campaign.
Despite everything, Lake lost, for 17,117 votes of more than 2.5 million.
With Lake at the top of the ticket, Arizona Republicans fell in the state races for governor, Senate, attorney general and secretary of state. She is one of a small handful of Trump-backed candidates who have refused to accept defeat from her.
Those who deny the MAGA elections lose in the swing states
Lake’s loss was part of a trend in competitive states: Trump-aligned election deniers like Tudor Dixon in Michigan and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania also lost in the gubernatorial race.
Senate candidates who came close to the MAGA brand, such as Blake Masters in Arizona and Don Bolduc in New Hampshire, also lost.
Contenders for Secretary of State who echoed Trump’s fabricated claims of a lost stolen election included Mark Finchem in Arizona, Kristina Karamo in Michigan and Jim Marchant in Nevada.
And in a more dramatic twist, two House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, Michigan’s Peter Meijer and Washington’s Jaime Herrera Beutler, were defeated in primaries by Republican candidates who lost those seats to Democrats in November. One of them was endorsed by Trump: Joe Kent, who lost in a huge upset to Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez in a pro-GOP Washington district.
It was a resounding series of defeats for the election deniers.
Republicans make big gains in… New York
In a sense, there was a red wave in 2022. It crashed off the shores of Long Island and swept through New York, but crested before it could travel any further. Republicans won a remarkable four House seats statewide, a crucial result that allowed their narrow 220-213 majority. One of the fallen incumbents was House campaign manager Sean Patrick Maloney, who lost his redrawn suburban-rural district to Republican upstart Mike Lawler.
The Democrats were crushed on Long Island, losing all four races and giving the Republican Party two seats: one was won by George Santos, who allegedly misrepresented most of the résumé on which he ran, according to The New York Times. (Santos admitted Monday to lying about his work experience and college education in an interview with the New York Post.)
Some of the damage was self-inflicted. The Democratic-controlled Legislature tried to draw a new map of Congress that would help the party win seats, but the courts threw it out. Maloney was not the only Democratic victim. His decision to run in the 17th district pushed Rep. Mondaire Jones to run in a new district, where he lost his primary. Representative Carolyn Maloney faced off against Representative Jerry Nadler in a new Manhattan borough and also lost.
Taken together, it was nothing short of a disaster for the party in the Democratic stronghold, particularly in a year in which it outperformed nationally and nearly controlled the House.
Democratic landslides in Pennsylvania, Michigan
Democrats Made Important Gains in the critical battleground states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, both pivotal to the winning electoral coalitions that brought Trump and President Joe Biden to the presidency.
In Pennsylvania, Governor-elect Josh Shapiro and Senator-elect John Fetterman defeated Trump-backed Republicans Mastriano and Mehmet Oz by 15 points and 5 points, respectively. Their victories led Democrats to win every competitive House race and gain control of the state House for the first time in more than a decade, though recent vacancies have called into question that majority.
The Democrats won so convincingly by tying in Mastriano, a right-wing state senator whose hardline stance against abortion rights and his presence outside the US Capitol, that they fought to distance themselves from Mastriano to appeal to centrist voters. .
In Michigan, Trump focused on building close allies who pushed his false claims of a stolen election into office at all levels of government. Meanwhile, the gubernatorial primary was rocked by multiple disqualifications of high-profile candidates, prompting Republicans to rally around Dixon, a conservative commentator.
The results were disastrous for the Republicans. All the Democratic incumbents across the state defeated their Republican rivals and seized control of both branches of the Legislature. A Trump-backed state Senate candidate who lost his primary predicted, “I don’t think you’re going to see Michigan go red for a long, long time.”
Palin loses to a Democrat in Alaska, twice
In August, a Democrat won a seat in the Alaska House of Representatives for the first time in 50 years. It would be just three months before Democrat Mary Peltola would win again, for a full term in the House.
Peltola was fueled by Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system and discontent with her Trump-backed Republican opponent, Sarah Palin, the former state governor and vice presidential candidate who earned a reputation as a right-wing firebrand as a fellow of Senator John McCain’s ticket. in 2008.
Peltola became the first Alaska Native elected to Congress when she won the special election in August to fill the seat of the late Republican Rep. Don Young.
Deep Red Kansas Endorses Abortion Rights
There was no greater foreshadowing of how the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade would affect elections than in Kansas, where voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum measure in August that would have allowed the state to ban abortion.
Even in the reddest of the state’s Republican-leaning counties, the abortion rights side of the argument won. Take, for example, Franklin County, which Trump won by 40 points in 2020. The “no” option on the referendum measure, which was what supporters of abortion rights defended, won by more than 13 points. The trend was repeated in several pro-Trump counties.
Ultimately, the August outcome in Kansas sent Republicans across the country scrambling to adjust their messaging to try to better align with moderates. But the efforts seemed to fall short.
That was true in Kansas, where Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, defeated Republican Derek Schmidt in his re-election bid, a result that also caught observers by surprise.
The near loss of Lauren Boebert
One incumbent that virtually no one thought was in danger was Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, the far-right MAGA Republican who was first elected in a safe GOP district in 2020 and made it to Congress. searching to carry his weapon on the Capitol grounds.
However, his district, which spans the rural west of the state and includes some areas around Colorado Springs, fired a warning shot at his brand of politics: Boebert survived by just 546 votes against his Democratic challenger, Adam Frisch. The race went to count, and was one of the last contests in the country to be finished.