GOP gets Trumped in midterm setbacks: The Note

Trump's hand-picked candidates lost winnable Senate races.

November 9, 2022, 6:02 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Tuesday's midterm election might be best defined in the immediate aftermath by what it wasn't -- a wave or a tsunami, or a repudiation of President Joe Biden, or really much of anything sweeping predictions thought it would be.

It also wasn't at all what just about any Republican thought it would be. But, as the GOP tallies its disappointments with only modest gains and a few bitter losses, one throughline was -- as it always seems to be -- reactions to former President Donald Trump.

Trump's hand-picked candidates lost winnable Senate races in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, and could yet fall in Arizona and Nevada. His Senate candidate in Georgia so badly underperformed the incumbent Republican governor -- whom Trump tried and failed to defeat -- that control of the Senate could again come down to a runoff there.

Other notable candidates favored by the former president went down in places including Michigan and North Carolina. And Democrats managed to elect or reelect governors in the blue-wall Midwestern states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan -- key presidential battlegrounds that Trump won once and then lost.

All of this came despite the rough history of presidential midterms, despite Biden's low approval ratings and despite double-digit inflation and a host of other angst-driving challenges facing Americans. It also came just as Trump himself tried to place himself in the center of the action, with extended teases about what's next for him.

Trump memorably promised Republicans so much winning that they'd be sick of it by now. Three straight national elections -- two midterms and a general -- have demonstrated a firm anti-MAGA majority.

No shortage of Republicans made the calculation that, at least in the short term, they can't win without Trump inside their tent. Now they'll be pondering whether they can win with him.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-lago on Election Day in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 8, 2022.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-lago on Election Day in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 8, 2022.
Andrew Harnik/AP

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

While there was a slew of candidates on the ballot that could have made history, far fewer crossed that threshold with election night wins.

In Massachusetts, Maura Healy not only became the first woman elected Governor in that state but also the first openly lesbian woman governor in the nation. Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul became the first women elected to lead Arkansas and New York, respectively (Hochul first stepped into the role after a sexual misconduct scandal drove former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign).

Vermont was the only state that hadn't elected a woman to represent its residents in Congress, until Tuesday. Becca Balint will serve in the state's at-large congressional seat. She is also the first LGBTQ person to represent Vermont. Katie Britt will be the first woman to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate.

The House of Representatives will welcome its first Gen Z congressman in Maxwell Frost of Florida. Frost, a former organizer for March for Our Lives, will represent the state's 10th district.

Wes Moore will be Maryland's first Black governor. Stacey Abrams and Deidre Dejear fell short against GOP incumbents in Georgia and Iowa in their bids to become the first Black women elected governor ever. Rep. Val Demings and Cheri Beasley also lost their Senate bids which means there will still be no Black women in the U.S. Senate.

With several key races outstanding, more historic election results are possible.

PHOTO: Massachusetts Gov.-elect Maura Healey speaks during a Democratic election night party in Boston, Nov. 8, 2022.
Massachusetts Gov.-elect Maura Healey speaks during a Democratic election night party in Boston, Nov. 8, 2022.
Michael Dwyer/AP

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The early aftermath of the 2022 midterm elections laid bare voters' focus on abortion access. In California, Michigan and Vermont, voters affirmed enshrining abortion rights into state constitutions.

The measures enshrining abortion rights came months after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade placed abortion policy back into states' governance.

In Michigan, incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spent the lead up to Tuesday's contest defending abortion access on the campaign trail. Whitmer's overnight win in one of three Blue Wall states signaled a considerable win for abortion access while also likely boosting Michigan Democrats' morale about how the issue will play among voters in the long term.

Voters in California similarly voted in favor of protecting abortion rights in their state constitution. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated the development after having signed a bill in June that he says makes California "a safe haven for women across the nation."

Prior to Tuesday, abortion was already legal in Vermont, but the passage of the ballot measure now prevents any future changes derived from the makeup of the state legislature.

Measures seeking to instill anti-abortion policies are also on the ballot in Kentucky and Montana. The Kentucky measure aims to exclude abortion access from its constitution, while Montana seeks to define an embryo or fetus as a legal person. Montana's measure also takes aim at physicians by requiring resuscitation requirements that would risk criminal penalties if not followed.

PHOTO: A digital media manager for Reproductive Freedom for All, canvasses a neighborhood in support of Proposal 3, a ballot measure that would codify the right to an abortion, one day before the midterm election in Dewitt, Mich., Nov. 7, 2022.
Morgan Koetje, digital media manager for Reproductive Freedom for All, canvasses a neighborhood in support of Proposal 3, a ballot measure that would codify the right to an abortion, one day before the midterm election in Dewitt, Mich., Nov. 7, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters
Hulu

Power Trip

"Power Trip: Those Seeking Power and Those Who Chase Them" follows 7 young reporters as they chase down candidates in the lead up to the midterms with George Stephanopoulos guiding them along the way.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. "Start Here" begins Wednesday morning with a special edition of the show, covering what we know so far about the midterm election results. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Joe Biden has no publicly scheduled events on Wednesday.
  • Vote counting continues, with control of the House and Senate still unprojected.

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