Good for Democrats:
1. The Democrats kept the US Senate majority, with big wins in Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado, and Georgia.
This also means President Joe Biden can get appellate court and US Supreme Court nominations through for another 2 years.
2. The Democrats picked up 3 Governor’s seats nationally, which a sitting President’s party hasn’t done in 40 years.
3. The Democrats held down Republican gains in the US House, the best performance by a sitting President’s party in 40 years. The President’s party usually loses an average of 28 seats in midterm elections; Democrats lost 9 in 2022.
4. Trump candidates and election deniers had a rough night, with Democratic wins in Governor’s races in Pa., Ore., and Arizona, along with key wins in Secretary of State races in Arizona, Michigan, and Nevada. Secretaries of State run elections in many states (but not in NC), which is important for 2024.
5. The Democrats held on to prevent a supermajority in the NC House by one seat. It will be difficult to hold the Democratic caucus together on veto override votes, but at least the opportunity is there. Gov. Roy Cooper has won 47 out of 47 veto override attempts in the last 4 years.
6. The NC Congressional delegation went from 8-5 Republican to a 7-7 split with the new 14th seat going for Democrats with the Wiley Nickel win. But, these districts have to be redrawn again in 2023 for future elections because state law says court-ordered maps can only be used in one election. Assuming new maps are drawn by the Republican majorities in the legislature, newly-elected Congressmen Jeff Jackson, Wiley Nickel, and Don Davis and two-term Congresswoman Kathy Manning could be in political jeopardy.
7. Gov. Roy Cooper has accomplished a tremendous amount the last 6 years, and he will be in office for 2 more years. Cooper is the only Democratic Governor in the South to win election to 2 terms in a state where Donald Trump won in both 2016 and 2020.
8. By and large, abortion referenda went pro-choice. Six measures concerning abortion were on state ballots this year, and pro-abortion positions won in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont. Abortion rights were also the key issue in the Democrats’ wins in the Pennsylvania races for US Senate and Governor
Good for Republicans:
1. The Republicans won both races for the state Supreme Court (going from a 6-1 Democratic majority in 2019 to a 4-3 Democratic majority in 2021 to a 5-2 Republican majority in 2023) and all 4 of the Court of Appeals races. This came 2 years after Republicans also swept all 5 races for seats on the 15-member Court of Appeals in 2020. They sit in panels of 3 to hear appeals. The Democrats cannot retake a majority on the state Supreme Court until 2028. No Republican Justice will face re-election in 2024 or 2026.
2. A Republican won the US Senate seat in NC, as Ted Budd (with 50.7% of the vote) beat Cherie Beasley. The national Democratic Party chose not to put much money into Beasley’s campaign during the last two months of the campaign.
3. The Republicans won the US House, 222-212 (with 1 vacant), a gain of 9 seats from the 222-213 Democratic majority in 2021, which will make it much more difficult for President Biden to get legislation passed. In 18 of the last 20 midterm elections, the President’s party lost ground in the House. President Biden’s approval rating was in the low 40% range, a figure as low as Bill Clinton’s in 1994 (when the Democrats lost 54 seats), Barack Obama’s in 2010 (when the Democrats lost 63 seats), and Donald Trump’s in 2018 (when the Republicans lost 40 seats).
In 2023, Democrats also lost the Speakership and the ability of Speaker Pelosi in accurately counting how people were going to vote in a closely-divided House, a much underestimated skill in legislating.
4. The Republicans won a supermajority in the NC Senate, 30-20. They came within one seat of winning a supermajority in the NC House. House Speaker Tim Moore said he expects to have a working supermajority in the House.
5. Overall voter turnout was down from 52.9% in the 2018 midterms to 50.7% in 2022. Republican turnout was 58.6% vs. 51.3% for Democrats.
Black, Hispanic, and young voters tend to vote Democratic, and turnouts in all three groups were down in 2022.
Black turnout dropped, even with an African American Democratic nominee for the US Senate at the top of the ticket. Black turnout in NC dropped from 48.4% in the 2018 midterms to 41.9% in 2022.
Hispanic voter turnout in NC dropped from 35% in 2018 to 25.8% in 2022. The Republican share of the Latino vote nationally has risen from 21% in 1996 to 39% in 2022. In 2016 and 2020, the Democrats won Hispanic voters by margins of 40 points or more.
Young voters didn’t turn out well either. Voters 18 to 34 years old are 29% of NC registered voters. In 2020, voters under 30 had favored Biden to Trump by 59% to 35%, and young voter turnout reached an historic high. Not so in 2022. Voters aged 18-25 had 29.4% turnout in 2018, but that dropped to 24.1% in 2022.
6. The Republican percentage of the vote in key statewide races has locked in at about 51.7%, same as the last two elections. Almost regardless of who the candidates are, we’ve calcified into our partisanship in NC. For example, in 2020, Republicans in the 5 appellate court races in NC all won between 51.1% and 51.9% of the vote. In 2022, Republicans in the 4 appellate court races all won with between 52.4% and 54.6% of the vote.
7. In local school board elections in NC, 41 were partisan elections, with 137 seats at stake. Republicans won 103 of these seats, or about 75%.
8. Though the Democrats held on to be able to uphold the Governor’s veto, they only prevailed by one seat in the House. And, the House has different rules. The state Senate rules give one day’s notice of a veto override vote. The House rules don’t, meaning everybody has to be there all the time to prevent a surprise vote.
Other Items of Note
1. Democrats have won the national popular vote in 7 of the last 8 presidential elections.
2. A record number of women (50, or 29%, up from 25%) were elected to the NC legislature, and women will make up the majority of the Democratic Caucuses in both the NC House and NC Senate.
Ran Coble is President Emeritus of the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.
I believe Jeff Jackson could have won this seat, but he dropped out. Democrats control the senate, but it would have been nice to have that additional vote, especially in today’s political environment.