Midterm elections results: The red wave that turned into a ripple – USA TODAY

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It doesn’t appear to be quite the red wave or tsunami that was predicted – or hoped for by some – but American voters turned out in droves Tuesday to either denounce how Democrats have been running this country or to reaffirm their confidence in the incumbent party.

Late results show there hasn’t been much of Republican landslide. Call it a red ripple, if you will.

Ohio voters decided that author-turned-politician J.D. Vance was fit for a Republican Senate seat, while Pennsylvania voters elevated Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman to the coveted position. In battleground Georgia, Sen. Raphael Warnock and football phenom Herschel Walker remain in a dead heat.

Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders will become the first woman elected governor of Arkansas. Democrat Stacey Abrams lost in Georgia to incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

It’s still not clear which party will ultimately control the House or Senate because the races are too close to call in many states, even at this late hour.

It will be interesting to see the demographics of those who voted, but it appears that young people – those concerned about their rights and the rights of others – used these midterm elections to express their concerns about gerrymandering and voter suppression.

Abortion was on the ballot. As was the economy. Some threw crime into the mix. The convergence of issues made it difficult to predict any outcome. America isn’t a monolith of ideals. Each person votes for what they believe, for what is important to them.

But what’s most disappointing is that America – Republican America – had every chance to unequivocally rebuke former President Donald Trump and his election-denying band, yet they chose to pick up instruments and play along. Their tone-deaf performances will likely keep our country out of tune for years to come.

Nonetheless, that is the beauty of democracy. That is why each of us has the freedom to cast a ballot. Waves or ripples, we have a voice.

And as we’ve all learned, polls don’t dictate the outcome of elections – voters do.

— Suzette Hackney, USA TODAY

11:45 p.m. — Election deniers having a big night. That’s sad for America.

One area that I am watching closely is whether 2020 presidential election deniers are winning or losing their races. 

We’ve already seen that major election denier J.D. Vance won his bid in Ohio for the Senate. But he’s far from alone.

The Washington Post has a live tracker following all these races, and while it’s too early for a final tally, so far nearly 140 election deniers have won. But the truth is any win is one win too many for a healthy democracy. It’s also yet to be seen what they will do when they lose, fair and square, and deny the results (as election deniers are likely to do). 

In the words of former President Gerald Ford, “Our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men.” For the good of America, do the right thing and cede power peacefully.

Carli Pierson, USA TODAY

11:25 p.m. Kemp wins in Georgia after rebuffing Trump. Abrams concedes.

Brian Kemp survived the wrath of Donald Trump and the celebrity of Stacey Abrams to win a second term as Georgia’s governor.

Facing a 300,000-vote deficit, Abrams telephoned Kemp to concede the race shortly after 11 p.m. Considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, Abrams has now lost twice to Kemp. He beat her by 55,000 votes in the 2018 governor’s race.

Kemp’s general election triumph follows an even more convincing primary victory over former Sen. David Perdue earlier this year. Perdue ran at the urging of Trump, who disavowed Kemp after the fellow Republican rebuffed Trump’s calls to challenge Georgia’s 2020 election results.

Trump at one point earlier this year predicted Abrams would defeat Kemp. However, the former president did not campaign against Kemp in the run-up to the election and quietly endorsed Kemp’s governor’s run in the days before the election.

— Adam Van Brimmer, Savannah Morning News

9:42 p.m. — My generation finally has a voice in Congress

A Generation Z candidate just won Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost, age 25, is the victor of Tuesday’s race. Frost has a long experience in politics and activism. He worked for the ACLU, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,  and March For Our Lives. A large focus of his campaign was gun safety. 

I interviewed him and two other Gen Z candidates, Raymond Reed and Karoline Leavitt, in a column about the future of our country. I said I was disappointed by their answers, but I hope I’m proven wrong.

Only Leavitt and Maxwell survived their primaries. Leavitt is currently behind in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, but the race is still very early. The last time a Republican was elected in that seat was in 2014. 

Chris Schlak, USA TODAY

9 p.m. — Critical wins in Maryland and Massachusetts governor races

I wrote earlier that I was closely watching six, groundbreaking governor races with women, Black and LGBTQ candidates.

In spite of warnings of the “red wave,” and regardless of what happens over the rest of the night, we cannot lose sight of the wins Democrats are already celebrating in historic races in Massachusetts and Maryland.

In Massachusetts, Democrat Maura Healey, the state’s attorney general, has won her election over Republican Geoff Diehl. Healey is the first female governor of Massachusetts and the nation’s first openly lesbian governor. That’s a really big deal.

In Maryland, Democrat Wes Moore has won his election over Republican Dan Cox and will become that state’s first Black governor. These are not small steps – they are historic ones and must be celebrated accordingly.

Carli Pierson, USA TODAY

8:30 p.m. — DeSantis wins reelection, setting stage for 2024

We’re still awaiting most midterm results, but the race for the White House is about to start in force.

Now that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has secured an easy reelection (his victory was called shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday), he is expected to turn his focus to his 2024 ambitions.

And he’s not the only one.

Former President Donald Trump has hinted at an announcement for months, but he’s turned up the noise in recent days about a 2024 bid for the White House. The latest is that he’ll announce something “big” next Tuesday

By teasing a run, Trump has made it difficult for other Republican presidential hopefuls. If he runs, it would rule out chances of winning for most other candidates. But DeSantis is a formidable opponent. Read the full column.

Ingrid Jacques, USA TODAY

The race for 2024: We just got through the midterms, but the DeSantis-Trump rivalry has already begun

8 p.m. — Five surefire ways to reduce your election night stress

Some election results are starting to come in, making this a stressful stretch for anyone truly invested in the outcome of the midterms.

In an effort to help, The New York Times came up with a list of things you can do to deal with electoral stress.  It included taking a walk and submerging your face in ice water.

I think those are terrible ideas, so I’ve come up with some more sensible steps people can take as they ride the emotional election rollercoaster that’s likely to stretch into the days ahead:

  • Submerge your face in a bowl of ice cream. This is a proven stress-reduction technique, as the coolness and deliciousness of the ice cream relaxes the facial nerve endings and stimulates some gland somewhere. Anyway, just eat the damn ice cream.
  • Build a cabin in the woods. This is both relaxing and pragmatic, as whatever the outcome of the election, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually want to move there to avoid the upcoming civil war.
  • Write an epic poem that imagines Odysseus from “The Odyssey” in a modern-day rom-com set in Brooklyn, where his oratorical skills and expertise at battle mean nothing to the three hipsters he shares a flat with. Few things calm the nerves like writing in dactylic hexameter.
  • Imagine yourself going for a walk and then have a good laugh at how ridiculous an idea that is. Laughter helps calm you down.
  • Throw your phone in the nearest body of water and then hide under the bed. This won’t calm you, but it’s arguably the best thing any of us can do.

— Rex Huppke, USA TODAY

7:50 p.m. — Big voter turnout across the country, thankfully 

As polling sites begin to close around the country, early returns are showing that voters were motivated to cast ballots. I won’t get ahead of myself because midterm election turnout has proved to be dismally low over the years. But there are glimmers of hope.

In battleground Ohio, where Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan faces Republican J.D. Vance for a key Senate seat, early voting set a record with 1.55 million ballots cast. New Mexico saw same-day registration – the first time it’s been offered – bring in 14,000 new voters, along with 350,000 people who voted in person by noon. An additional 100,000 individuals cast absentee ballots.

Projected high in-person voting and robust mailed ballots might delay results in several key races. But I’d rather wait for every vote to be tabulated, and I imagine those still suffering from 2020 election PTSD would concur. Democracy isn’t always easy and neat. But it certainly felt good to cast my ballot Tuesday.

I’m seeing headlines of high voter turnout in many areas of the country. It’s our right and privilege to select those we want to represent us. Honestly, it’s our duty. And remember if you’re in line and the polls are closing, don’t leave. You can’t be turned away. Please vote.

Suzette Hackney, USA TODAY

6 p.m. — Hopeful that confidence will be restored in the process 

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Suzette Hackney on what’s at stake this midterm

USAT TODAY Deputy Editor and Columnist Suzette Hackney talks about what she believes is at stake during the 2022 midterm election.

Staff video

Voting is starting to wind down across the country so we wanted to offer up some thoughts from Suzette Hackney, USA TODAY Opinion deputy editor and columnist, on what she feels is at stake for the country. 

5:50 p.m. — The latest from famed political pundit Les Accurate

We’ve passed the midpoint of Election Day, so it’s time to check back in with my favorite version of myself, TV political commentator Les Accurate.

Les, what are you seeing out there?

“Well, Rex, let me tell you, this election is getting interestinger and interestinger.”

Is that a word?

“It absolutely is.”

So what’s the most … interestinger thing thus far?

“Well, I can tell you with 100% certainty that people are voting. They are standing in lines, making decisions and casting ballots that reflect those decisions. Now, who they’re voting for is another story, because that’s kept secret. Make of that what you will. But I can say definitively that votes are being cast, and once those votes are counted, I predicted that whichever candidate received the most votes will be declared the winner. Back to you, Rex.”

Thanks, Les. That was of no benefit whatsoever.

“You’re welcome, Rex, and … wait a minute … I have one thing to add. I’m seeing some early reports on voter turnout, and I’m prepared to guarantee readers that there is a state named ‘New Hampshire.’ You can’t take that one to the bank. Back to you, Rex.”

Great, Les. We’ll hear more from you later.

Rex Huppke, USA TODAY

5:30 p.m. — Parents, businesses haven’t forgotten COVID lockdowns

An issue that I think is motivating voters around the country is the lasting frustration over how governors and schools responded to COVID-19. In Democrat-led states that saw the longest business shutdowns and shuttered schools, the effects of those decisions are still very much felt. 

For instance, we recently saw the results of the Nation’s Report Card, and it’s clear that students in the schools closed the longest – often in urban, low-income areas – are the furthest behind. The teachers unions that advocated the hardest for delayed school returns are now giving millions to and actively campaigning for the Democrats (like Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer) who did their bidding. 

This angst hasn’t shown up specifically in polls, unlike high gas prices and the costs of milk. But it’s hard to imagine how it’s not a major consideration for voters. In Michigan, I’ve heard from moms and business owners about what their families have suffered, and they are taking those grievances to the polls. 

— Ingrid Jacques, USA TODAY   

‘Save our kids’: For midterms, GOP candidates like Tudor Dixon connect with voters on schools, economy

5:15 p.m. — Expect the unexpected in South Texas

Former President Bill Clinton stumped in South Texas on Monday for three congressional candidates with seats that have been held by Democrats for decades. Key races in the 15th, 28th and 34th Congressional Districts are testing the Democratic stronghold in predominantly Hispanic areas. Hispanics have been increasingly shifting to the Republican Party in recent years, and these races could be a bellwether of a future shift, especially with former President Donald Trump out of the picture. Millions of dollars have poured in this year for each candidate. Out of the three races, two of them – the 15th and 34th Congressional Districts – are a dead heat. I’ll be paying close attention to these results in my home state. 

— Chris Schlak, USA TODAY

4:10 p.m. — Somebody tell Kari Lake that’s not how this works

Kari Lake, Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, apparently has insider information about the outcome of Tuesday’s election. She’s already declared victory, hours before the polls close.

“I’m going to do two terms,” Lake proclaimed to a gaggle of reporters after casting her vote. “I’m going to be your worst frickin’ nightmare for eight years, and we will reform the media as well. We are going to make you guys into journalists again. So, get ready. It’s going to be a fun eight years.”

Who is going to tell her? That’s not how any of this works.

I’m all for exuding confidence. But such careless hubris – by a former television news anchor, no less – is astounding. Then again, this is the same election denier who still defends former President Donald Trump’s false claims that he won the 2020 election.

If one says it enough times, it must be true, right? Maybe that’s her approach to Tuesday’s election: If she says she’s won, she already has.

But what sad news for the folks who live in Arizona. Lake has made her agenda and priorities clear – and they don’t include the best interests of her potential constituents. They are the real losers.

Suzette Hackney, USA TODAY 

USA TODAY Editorial Board: Regardless of your political leanings, our democracy needs you to vote

4 p.m. — Election results might not be coming tonight

If you were hoping for results tonight don’t get … your hopes up. Republican lawmakers have been busy the past two years passing voter laws that will help them fight election results they disagree with. 

According to the 2022 version of the annual report “A Democracy Crisis in The Making” – Republicans around the country have spent many months pushing through election legislation that would make how ballots are counted more complicated. 

The five tactics identified in the report include: 

  • Awarding state legislatures the power to award electoral votes.
  • Authorizing post-election “audits” that could be partisan in nature.
  • Giving partisan lawmakers and appointed officials more powers over election operations.
  • Placing “unworkable burdens” on election administrators.
  • Intimidating election officials with the threat of criminal penalties for certain actions.

Carli Pierson, USA TODAY

3 p.m. — Only a fool would try to rig or steal Arizona’s election now

It was awesome to watch all the early Election Day activity focused on making sure the vote stays honest.

Maricopa County administrators and political leaders in Arizona were giving instructions and reassurance to voters after minor irregularities began to surface – the kind that happen every election.

On an internal chat channel at The Arizona Republic, reporters and editors were monitoring problems and sending out journalists to inspect the hot spots.

Observers and lawyers from both parties were at vote centers as cameras livestreamed activity.

If anyone had designs on rigging the Arizona ballot they were inviting a world of scrutiny. You’d be a fool to mess with this mass exercise in civic renewal. Read the full column

Phil Boas, Arizona Republic

2:50 p.m. — What a privilege it is to participate in our democracy

I was standing in line to vote this afternoon when an unexpected wave of emotion hit me. Here was an election for, by, and of the people happening right in front of me.  What a privilege to be able to participate. How special to witness democracy in action.

I listened as my fellow citizens, waiting to cast their ballots, commented on the news media’s political coverage. “I used to watch 30 minutes of Fox News and then turn over and watch 30 minutes of MSNBC,” one man said. “It was like they were reporting about two different planets.”

I smiled in recognition of that truth.

In response to the first man, another person said he still buys the local newspaper because he wants to “support freedom of the press.”  But someone else said he couldn’t find the local paper in stores anymore.

The conversation turned to the fact we had to wait in line for a few minutes to vote. But I didn’t hear any complaints. Instead, the talk was about how privileged we are as Americans to be able to vote easily, conveniently and safely – in our case inside a neighborhood church’s gymnasium.

We live in a cynical age, and understandably so. Billions of dollars are spent every election cycle to scare and manipulate us and to pull us further apart from our neighbors and fellow citizens.

The best response, I think, to those who want to exploit our biases and fears is to do what my neighbors of different ages, races, economic backgrounds and genders did Tuesday: Stay informed, show up and make your voice heard in the privacy of the voting booth.

Tim Swarens, USA TODAY

1:40 p.m. — Is Herschel Walker running for a runoff in Georgia?

Football icon Herschel Walker is arguably the most fascinating candidate in the 2022 midterm elections, capturing attention in ways even a TV doctor, a self-proclaimed “hillbilly” memoir writer and a Jan. 6 insurrectionist can’t.

As Georgians went to the polls Tuesday, the question on many minds was whether Walker’s celebrity and charm would be enough to overcome his well-publicized shortcomings and garner enough votes to force a runoff in his U.S. Senate race against incumbent Raphael Warnock.

Walker, a Republican who has been polling behind other GOP candidates in the state, is expected to benefit from voters dissatisfied with Democrats based on the U.S. inflation rate and those who want the Republicans to regain majority control of the Senate.

The Georgia race is seen as one of the few competitive Senate races in the country, and with the 100-member chamber evenly divided between the GOP and the Democratic Party, some Georgians will vote for the party and not the person.

Pundits doubt there are enough Walker voters for him to win the race outright. In Georgia, candidates must win a majority — 50% plus one vote — to avoid a runoff, and a Libertarian candidate is expected to attract as much as 2.5% of the vote.

Many consider a runoff the most likely scenario in the U.S. Senate race. A runoff would mean four more weeks of campaigning by the candidates. And who among us doesn’t want another month of Walker as the candidate?

— Adam Van Brimmer, Savannah Morning News

1 p.m. — Abortion is literally on ballot in these states

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Ingrid Jacques on what matters this midterm

USA TODAY Columnist Ingrid Jacques talks about what’s important in this election and what voters want.

Staff video

While Democrats have tried to make the midterm elections all about abortion, in most cases, it’s a debate between the candidates’ stances on the issue. 

In a handful of states, however, as I’ve written about, abortion is literally on the ballot. I’m going to be closely following what happens in my state of Michigan, along with California and Vermont, which all have measures on the ballot that would enshrine abortion rights in the states’ constitutions. Kentucky also has an abortion measure but would do the opposite – clarify that there is no right to abortion in the constitution, which is what Kansas tried and failed to do earlier this year. 

Michigan’s Proposal 3 has been sold by proponents as a way to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade, but in reality, it would go much further than that and end existing restrictions on abortion in the state. It’s the most important issue on the statewide ballot and would have long-term implications if it passes. 

Ingrid Jacques, USA TODAY

12:30 p.m. — Kentucky’s abortion amendment

Kentucky is keeping a close eye on Constitutional Amendment 2  which is on Tuesday’s general election ballot. If it passes it will eliminate the right to abortion in the commonwealth. If it fails it opens the door to the possibility that abortion could become a state right.

Anti-abortion activists fear the if that Amendment 2 is voted down, Kentucky will not only legalize abortion but become an “abortion mecca” by providing services to women from the surrounding states who do not have abortion access at home.

Will Kentucky be like fellow red-state Kansas and vote down Amendment 2? Or will Kentucky double down on the already restrictive, anti-abortion legislative actions and embed abortion directives into its state constitution? All eyes are on Kentucky Tuesday for those invested in what happens to abortion rights.

Bonnie Feldkamp, Courier-Journal

12 p.m. — Let Les Accurate give you the election scoop

With long hours to go before the polls close, cable news networks are filling time with panels of political commentators breathlessly speculating on what’s going to happen. It’s like a convention of Nostradamus enthusiasts setting themselves up to be proven wrong, and as someone whose predictions are rarely correct, I want in.

So…throughout the day here at USA TODAY, I’ll be providing readers the gold standard in mindless Election Day speculation under my newly adopted TV news moniker, Les Accurate.

And with that, over to you, Les.

“Thanks, Rex. A lot of time still to go in these all-important midterm elections, but I can tell you, based on what I’m seeing so far, it’s Tuesday. Is that good for the Democrats and President Joe Biden? Hard to say at this point. But there’s little doubt Republicans are loving the fact that it’s not Wednesday. We’ll see where it goes from here. Back to you, Rex.”

Thanks, Les. We’ll check in later for another update.

Rex Huppke, USA TODAY

11 a.m. — Representation matters, and we see that in the races for governor

I’m closely watching several races for governor because of the demographics involved. According to Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics, 47 current governors are white (non-Latino) and 41 of the 50 governors are also men. That’s a lot of white dudes in office.

Meanwhile, as my colleague Ingrid Jacques has written, several candidates on the ballot could become the first woman to serve as governor in their state’s history. And in Maryland, Democrat Wes Moore would be that state’s first Black governor. In Massachusetts and Oregon, Maura Healey and Tina Kotek would be the country’s first openly lesbian governors. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams would be the country’s first Black female governor.

Representation matters, and seeing these folks this close to cinching their respective elections reminds me that progress is slow and gradual. But it’s also inevitable, even in the face of far-right movements that gained ground during and after Donald Trump’s presidency.

— Carli Pierson, USA TODAY

2022 midterm elections: Here are the 10 governor’s races to watch

10:30 a.m. — Indiana candidate was fired from office he wants to lead

I think Republican Diego Morales is unfit to be Indiana’s next secretary of state. That has nothing to do with the R next to his name. Morales’ dubious record is so long, and has been so extensively covered, that you might read over it with the speed of a legal disclaimer in a commercial.

Morales is a candidate who was fired from the office he wants to lead; is facing sexual assault allegations from two Republican women, including one who worked in the secretary of state’s office; and seems to have voted illegally based on public records that show him living in Marion County while voting in Hendricks County during his 2018 congressional run. Now, he wants to run one of the state’s most important offices, which happens to oversee elections.

Morales is on the ballot against Democrat Destiny Wells and Libertarian Jeff Maurer. The race has been labeled a toss-up between Morales and Wells, with Maurer having a shot at record-high gains for a Libertarian.

— James Briggs, The Indianapolis Star

10 a.m. — Arizona primaries promote extreme candidates

Whew. And whoa. Arizona’s 2022 election is just about over.

So, is it too soon to start talking about 2024?

If you are one of those who looked at this year’s nominees for governor and longed to bubble in “none of the above,” then no, it’s not a moment too soon.

If you wonder why the incoming Arizona Legislature likely will be even more conservative than the current crew then no, it’s not too early.

The fringe that has assumed control of the GOP doesn’t dominate because they are the choice of Arizona voters. They dominate because the primary election system is rigged, with a little help from gerrymandered districts, so that nearly two-thirds of the state’s voters don’t matter.

Independents now outnumber both Republicans and Democrats in Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix), and soon they will dominate statewide. Yet our primary system is designed to mute their voices.

— Laurie Roberts, Arizona Republic

9:30 a.m. – Whoa, Nellie! Don’t count those election wins or losses yet

A survey of Election Day commentary shows conservative writers spiking the football – before Republicans have reached the end zone.  And progressive writers already are lamenting their losses.

It’s not over until it’s over: Why some battleground states could have us waiting past election night for races to be called

As a lifelong Cubs fan, I know all about losing, but we usually wait until the final out before flying the “L” flag. So, it strikes me that both sides of the political spectrum may be premature in speculating about what may happen on this fine Election Day.

In any case, here are a few headlines that caught my attention this morning:

►Salena Zito, New York Post: “Why Midterm Voters Will Put Republicans in Power Across the U.S.”

►Hayes Brown, MSNBC: “The bleak reality of a GOP midterms win is hard to process.”

►Chris Lehmann, The Nation: “How Democrats Should Have Talked About the Economy.”

►Jim Geraghty: National Review: “Don’t let anyone tell you Democrats lost because they were too nice.”

Actual, real-life voters may have made those writers seem absurdly optimistic or pessimistic by this time tomorrow. But it’s clear there’s joy on one side and trepidation on the other as millions of Americans cast their ballots this morning.

— Tim Swarens, USA TODAY

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8 a.m. — Get caught up on things so far

This election has been filled with opportunities for analysis and opinion. The good news is our team has plenty of that to go around. Take a moment to catch up on the coverage as people continue voting. 

6 a.m. — Republican women on the rise

I’m closely watching the governor’s races in Michigan, Oregon and New York, where there’s a Democratic incumbent governor. They’re all women, and in Michigan and Oregon they’re being challenged by Republican women. Those races are all much closer than they were originally predicted to be, and we might see Republicans winning those states.

Ingrid Jacques, USA TODAY

GOP no longer party of old, white men: Meet the conservative women on the rise

6 a.m. — A day of election deniers 

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What is Rex Huppke watching for on election day?

USA TODAY Columnist Rex Huppke tells us what he is watching on Election Day.

Staff video

Columnist Rex Huppke is watching to see what kind of day election deniers on ballots across the country have. Will they win public office? 

Let Kari Lake be a warning siren: Are you aware of the chaos election deniers will bring?

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