Lindsey Graham Says Midterm Elections Are 'Definitely Not a Republican Wave, That's for Darn Sure'

Lindsey Graham
Lindsey Graham

EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Sen. Lindsey Graham

"Definitely not a Republican wave, that's for darn sure."

That's how Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham summed up Tuesday's midterm elections as ballots continued to be counted across the country.

Graham, speaking on NBC News, made the remarks as several races that Republicans had hoped they could win went for Democratic candidates instead.

"A wave would have been capturing New Hampshire and Colorado," Graham told host Savannah Guthrie, referencing Republican losses in the New Hampshire and Colorado Senate races.

In New Hampshire, Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan retained her seat even as recent polls had suggested her race against Republican Don Bolduc would be close. Instead, Hassan won with about 55% of the vote, according to the Associated Press.

Bolduc, a retired Army general, was a far-right candidate who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. While on the campaign trail, Bolduc made false claims about everything from the 2020 presidential election to elementary school education in New Hampshire.

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During an October debate with Hassan, Bolduc falsely claimed that school buses full of illegal, out-of-state voters were being ferried to New Hampshire. He also previously claimed that students in the heavily Republican town of Derry, N.H., were self-identifying as "furries and fuzzies" in classrooms, where he falsely said they were using litter boxes and licking themselves as if they were cats.

"Guess what? We have furries and fuzzies in classrooms," Bolduc said, in audio obtained by CNN. "They lick themselves, they're cats. When they don't like something, they hiss – people walk down the hallway and jump out.

He continued: "And get this, get this. They're putting litter boxes, right? … These are the same people that are concerned about spreading germs. Yet they let children lick themselves and then touch everything. And they're starting to lick each other."

Those false claims proved a bridge too far for moderate New Hampshire voters, who awarded Bolduc 44% of the vote to Hassan's 55%.

Colorado's Senate race also failed to be as competitive as Republicans had hoped, with Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet winning a third term in Congress with 55% of the vote to Republican Joe O'Dea's 42%.

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Speaking on NBC News, Sen. Graham offered a "hats off" to Democrats, noting, "they have performed well in a lot of these swing districts."

The Republican senator didn't, however, remark on what could prove an elephant in the room in the coming days and weeks: how the endorsement of former President Trump may have impacted some Republican candidates.

While many Republicans had projected landslide races across the country, early results indicated that voters were in some cases splitting their ballots — voting for Republicans for some seats and Democrats for others, rather than voting strictly down the party line. In Georgia, for instance, Republican Brian Kemp (who, notably, rebuffed Trump's false claims of election fraud during the 2020 presidential race) handily won reelection, while the Senate race was too close to call as of Tuesday evening.

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But as Trump-aligned candidates appeared to suffer in many parts of the country, one Republican won his race in a landslide.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who is widely rumored to be mulling a 2024 presidential campaign that could pit him directly against Trump — won reelection with a nearly 20% lead over his opponent, Democrat Charlie Crist.