The Republican Party’s high hopes of a red wave or an “American tsunami” in the midterm elections came crashing down to reality in races across the country after vulnerable Democrats squeezed out victories in competitive races.
The GOP still had a chance to flip control of the Senate and were well-positioned to seize control of the House, but their projected gains were shrinking — so much so that some analysts said there was an outside shot Democrats could retain control of the House.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, delivered a blunt assessment of the situation.
“Definitely not a Republican wave, that’s for darn sure,” Mr. Graham said on NBC News.
Among Democrats, there was a creeping sense of optimism that their odds of defending the Senate were improving and that they would far outperform expectations in the House.
Republicans had picked off at least two incumbent Democrats.
Rep. Elaine Luria lost her re-election race to state Sen. Jen Kiggans in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District.
Republicans also benefited from redrawn congressional districts, picking up seats in Florida’s 4th, 7th and 13th Congressional Districts, as well as in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
But things started to brighten for Democrats after the networks announced Rep. Abigail Spanberger survived a challenge from Republican Yesli Vega in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.
The race was considered a bellwether for Republicans.
Rep. Jennifer Wexton also won re-election in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.
The Republican hopes of making inroads in New England took a hit when Seth Magaziner was declared the winner over Republican Alan Fun in Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District.
Democrat Wiley Nickel also flipped a seat in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, defeating Republican Bo Hines.
And Democrat Greg Landsman ousted longtime Republican Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio.
The results put a major damper on the sky-high expectations Republicans carried into an election where political handicappers forecasted a strong night for the GOP.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, postponed a planned speech at the House GOP headquarters in Washington, saying there were too many too-close-to-call races.
President Biden’s approval rating was viewed as a massive weight around the necks of Democrats, and polls suggested the issues voters cared about most — inflation, crime, and rising costs — played into the GOP’s hands.
Democrats, meanwhile, seized on the issue of abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, viewing it as a way to energize disillusioned women and disillusioned voters that are at odds with the GOP on the issue.
They also sounded the alarm on the threats to Democracy posed by the stolen election allegations former President Donald Trump and his supporters have spent two years proclaiming.
The GOP expected to easily flip control of one of the House and possibly eke out a takeover in the Senate, positioning the party to act as a blockade against Mr. Biden’s agenda.
Republicans have shared that they have big plans if they capture the majority, vowing to launch congressional probes into the administration’s moves on immigration and the economy.
They also have signaled an interest in investigating the FBI and DOJ and digging into the far-flung business dealings and alleged influence peddling by Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
Mr. McCarthy’s dreams of becoming the next speaker of the House were put on pause, at least for the moment.