The results of Tuesday’s pivotal 2022 midterm elections continue to roll in, and it is still not clear whether Democrats or Republicans have won the battle for control of Congress.
While many races remain too close to call, one thing is already abundantly obvious: It was not the red wave Republicans had been hoping for.
Former President Donald Trump took an early victory lap at his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday night following victories by several candidates he had endorsed. But in a blow to Trump and Republicans, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was backed by the former president, in the race to fill Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat.
Trump and the GOP had attempted to frame the elections as a referendum on President Biden, crime and inflation, while Biden sought to make the midterms about the dangers of Trump’s election denialism — arguing that democracy itself is on the ballot.
At the White House on Wednesday, Biden said the early returns suggest "it was a good day for democracy and I think a good day for America."
"While we don't know all the results yet, here's what we do know: the press and I know the pundits were predicting a giant red wave. It didn't happen," Biden said.
Tuesday's midterms were the first national elections held since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the first since the Supreme Court overturned Roe. v. Wade, its 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Biden: 'The pundits were predicting a giant red wave. It didn't happen.'
President Biden discusses the midterm election results during a news conference at the White House on Wednesday. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)
In his first public remarks since Tuesday's midterm elections, President Biden said the early returns suggest "it was a good day for democracy and I think a good day for America."
"While we don't know all the results yet, here's what we do know: the press and I know the pundits were predicting a giant red wave. It didn't happen," Biden said at the White House. "I know you were somewhat miffed by my optimism but I felt good during the whole process. I felt we were going to do fine."
Biden spent the days ahead of the midterms criss-crossing the country for rallies in key races. And despite polls suggesting Republicans were primed to regain control of both the House and the Senate, Biden was confident Democrats would hold at least the upper chamber.
The president's comments came as many races remain too close to call, and the balance of power in Congress uncertain as he heads into the final two years of his first term in office.
Biden said voters "spoke clearly about their concerns." Among them: inflation, crime, the preservation of democracy and the right to choose.
Tuesday's midterms were the first national elections held since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the first since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe. v. Wade, its 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Biden said he intends to run for reelection in 2024, but will make a final decision early next year. Former President Donald Trump is expected to make a formal announcement of his own 2024 bid next week.
"It'd be fun watching them take on each other."
— President Biden when asked who would be a tougher potential Republican challenger to face in 2024: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former President Donald Trump
Biden to speak as key races remain too close to call
Biden is seen at a rally in Bowie, Md., Monday. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
President Biden will deliver remarks and take questions at the White House at 4 p.m. ET, as control of Congress remains unclear following Tuesday's pivotal midterm elections, with many key races still too close to call. Yahoo News will carry the press conference live in the video player above.
Preparations for Warnock-Walker runoff are already underway, Raffensperger says
During a news conference on Wednesday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger confirmed that the critical Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will be heading to a Dec. 6 runoff election after neither candidate managed to surpass 50% of the vote.
Raffensperger said his office has already begun “the behind-the-scenes work” building ballots for the runoff, and that counties are making preparations. Georgia voters can request absentee ballots now through Monday, Nov. 28, and early voting must begin no later than Nov. 28 in all counties.
“This will be a very heavy lift for our counties because it’s a four-week runoff period,"
Raffensperger said. "But I have confidence that they will take all the measures required to rise to the task.”
While also preparing for the runoff, Raffensperger said they are working to close out other races in Tuesday’s election. Counties must certify election results by 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 15, and the state must certify by Nov. 25.
Apart from the Warnock-Walker runoff, Raffensperger said that “most of the races have a clear winner.” Raffensperger, a Republican who won his reelection bid on Tuesday against Democrat Bee Nguyen, added that Nguyen “graciously conceded” to him last night.
“That’s the way it’s supposed to be," Raffensperger added. "We need all candidates who come up short to acknowledge it and to come back and fight within our system another day, if that’s their choice.”
Crucial Georgia Senate race between Warnock, Walker heads to December runoff
(Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images, Seth Harold/AFP via Getty Images)
Yahoo News' Marquise Francis reports:
The race for Georgia’s pivotal U.S. Senate seat between Sen. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, and Republican challenger Herschel Walker is heading to a runoff election, according to media outlets.
Under Georgia law, a candidate must gain a majority of the vote to win. Neither Walker nor Warnock is expected to reach 50% of the vote.
Warnock, a Baptist minister, was elected in a January 2021 runoff, becoming the state’s first Black senator in the process. His runoff with Walker, a Georgia college football hero, will be held Dec. 6.
Abortion rights win at ballot box in 2022 midterms
Yahoo News' Christopher Wilson and Caitlin Dickson report:
Nearly five months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a number of states voted in favor of abortion rights in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
In Michigan, voters chose to enshrine the “fundamental right to reproductive freedom” in their state’s constitution by approving Proposal 3. The amendment, which invalidates conflicting state laws already on the books, allows the state to regulate abortion after fetal viability, but not prohibit it if medically necessary to protect a patient’s life or mental or physical health. It also bars the prosecution of anyone who exercises, or helps another person exercise, their right to an abortion.
In Vermont, Proposal 5 cruised to a victory with nearly 80% support, ensuring protections for abortion access, contraception and sterilization. The passage adds the following language to the state’s constitution: “That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
The Associated Press called the race for Proposition 1 in California for abortion advocates. Proposed following the decision that overturned Roe, the initiative will amend the state constitution “to expressly include an individual’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which includes the fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson wins reelection, holding off Democratic challenge
Johnson (Getty Images)
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., won reelection Tuesday night, the Associated Press projected Wednesday, dashing Democratic hopes of flipping the swing-state seat.
Johnson defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes to earn a third term, despite an early polling deficit and a litany of controversial positions. After trailing by as many as 7 points in August polling, Johnson battered Barnes over the airwaves in September to eliminate the gap, attacking him for his positions on crime. Johnson supplemented that message with critiques of President Biden’s policies on inflation and the southern border in the race’s final weeks.
Wisconsin Democrats lamented that the national party and Barnes’s campaign did not respond to the attacks more quickly. Johnson presented a number of potential vulnerabilities for Democrats to exploit, but just like with his surprise reelection victory six years ago, the conservative businessman survived.
Republican Mike Lawler defeats incumbent Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney
Maloney (Getty Images)
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., conceded his congressional race to Republican Mike Lawler in a phone call Wednesday morning, shortly before the Associated Press called the race for Lawler.
The five-term New York Democrat also leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The loss of the race in a suburban district just north of New York City is considered a huge upset on an otherwise better than expected night for Democrats.
Here's how marijuana legalization fared in 5 states
Weed was on the ballot in several states. (Getty Images)
Marijuana legalization was on the ballot Tuesday in five states that already have medical marijuana programs. In Maryland and Missouri, voters approved recreational marijuana use, according to the Associated Press, bringing the total number of states where it's legal to 21.
In Arkansas, South Dakota and North Dakota, voters rejected measures that would have made cannabis possession legal for adults age 21 and older, per the AP. South Dakota had previously approved marijuana possession in 2020, but it was struck down by the state Supreme Court in part because the proposal was coupled with medical marijuana and hemp.
Oz concedes race to Fetterman
Oz addresses supporters at an election night event in Newtown, Pa. (Getty Images)
Republican candidate Mehmet Oz conceded the Senate race in Pennsylvania to his Democratic opponent, John Fetterman, in a phone call Wednesday morning, a Fetterman campaign spokesperson said.
Networks had projected Fetterman as the winner late Tuesday night.