The US Midterm Elections 2022 Explained!

It’s been a little over a week since the polls closed on November 8th, election night 2022. To say that it’s been crazy, chaotic, and very exciting would be an understatement. Once again, everything seemed to get turned on its head and nothing went as expected, especially for the Republicans.

While there are still a few races where a winner hasn’t been declared, the dust has settled enough that we can see where both houses of Congress are going to go. But as you’ve been pelted with all this news, we know that you still might have some questions.

What was at stake during these midterms? What were some of the important issues on ballots across the U.S.? What was this Red Wave that pundits and candidates were talking about and finally, what are the US midterms anyway?

I’ll help you answer those questions today, so let’s dive in!

What were the 2022 US Midterms anyway?

Picture of the democrat mascot and the Republican mascot side-by-side
The mascots for the Democratic and Republican parties.

The 2022 US Midterms were a general election where several different members of Congress, both from the House of Representatives and the Senate were up for election.

Along with that, several Governorships, State offices, and local initiatives were also on the ballot for voters to vote on across the country.

It’s called the “Midterms” because they are held at about the halfway point of the US President’s four-year term.

If you want to have an overview of the Midterms, I wrote my last article on them and you can check that out here, it explains the Midterms in detail.

What was at stake in the 2022 US Midterms?

In short, a lot but let’s cover the basics first. Generally speaking, in any midterm election, control of the House of Representatives and the Senate is going to be the major focus.

All members of the House are up for election, so 435 members, because House Reps serve 2-year terms.

In the Senate, a third of Senators will be up for election because Senators serve 6-year staggard terms. Roughly 34 Senators will be up for election.

Whichever party takes control of both houses of Congress will essentially control the government. With that party control, they can push their agendas and policies and influence laws in the country.

If the US President is in the party that controls Congress, then his policies and agendas will likely be passed, with little to no input from the opposing party.

However, if the sitting President is of the opposing party, well, his agendas and policies will likely be stalled or outright blocked by the controlling party.

Why did the 2022 Midterm Elections feel like a really big deal this year?

First, it’s important to note that midterms are always important and they always have been, however, traditionally the Midterms don’t get the same attention and voter turnout as Presidential elections.

According to Fair Vote, turnout for Presidential Elections hovers around 60%, while it drops to 40% for the Midterms.

Now, that’s changed some, in the last few election cycles, according to FiveThirtyEight but even with the uptick, it still isn’t as high of a turnout as a Presidential election.

But this year, this cycle, was much different and it all points back to Trump. More specifically, his big lie. That the 2020 election was stolen.

This belief would lead to wild conspiracy theories growing and spreading online, threats being made to officials and the January 6th attack on the nation’s capital.

As a result of these conspiracy theories and wild rhetoric online, candidates for various positions ran their elections on this lie and several were supported by Trump. So much so that 60 percent of Americans had an election denier on their ballot.

The news was unrelenting as a result, the accusations flew wildly from the mouths of these candidates and there was also news that right-wing election deniers were flocking to take jobs as poll workers and more.

All of the rhetoric and right-wing activity gave the impression that our very democracy was under attack. President Biden himself said as much, all combined, the prevailing worry was that far-right candidates would win their elections, forever changing the face of our country.

Thankfully, very few incidents actually materialized prior to or on election day but these worries were enough to motivate voters to go out and cast ballots against these candidates and nearly all of these election-denying candidates lost.

Seemingly screaming out to Donald Trump, that they’d had enough of his lies, that the election wasn’t stolen and they didn’t want his supporters in office to make things worse.

Control of Congress

Picture of the Capitol Building - The US Midterms 2022 Explained
U.S. Capitol Building

As I said above, the Midterm Elections determine which party controls the Congress. As of right now, it appears that we’re going to have a split government when the new Congress takes office next year.

The Democrats will control the Presidency and the Senate, while the Republicans will control the House of Representatives.

On the face of it, that means that since the ruling parties are split, nothing will happen in Congress and for the most part that might be true, however, there is a strong case that that might not happen but we’ll have to wait to see what happens next year!

Control of Governorships and State Positions

In the Midterms there are also several other positions on the ballot. There were 36 Gubernatorial elections this cycle. While the number of Democrat or Republican candidates that win won’t affect the federal government, it does affect how federal policies and laws will be enacted in their states.

It’s also a barometer of sorts that shows which way the country is leaning and like the split in Congress, the split in Governorships across the country is almost even.

There are currently 24 Democrats serving as governor with the GOP holding 25 offices across the country.

State Positions

There were several other state positions on the ballot this year, like the Secretary of State. There were 27 elections in these midterms which saw the Republicans lose an appointment but keep control of the number of Republican secretaries to Democrats at 27 to 20.

The more polarizing of these elections was the race between Adrian Fontes and Mark Finchem in Arizona. The race made headlines due to Finchem’s brash style and ardent belief in the big lie and presented himself as an election denier.

Again, the voters in Arizona pushed back against the big lie and MAGA by voting for Mr. Fontes and others in the state but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Ballot Initiatives

In every midterm election, there will be a host of different ballot initiatives that get put to the voters to decide on. Usually, these things are benign, like voting on property taxes or utility bills issues, etc. but there were some doozy’s this year!


No, that’s not me trying to hype things up. There were five separate states that had a form of slavery still written in their state constitutions. They were Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, and Louisiana.

While slavery was outlawed with the 13th Amendment, if you read it, it allows for a form of slavery, so long as it’s “a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted“.

That line, which says that prisoners can be forced to work for free as slaves, so long as they’re duly convicted, is what voters were deciding.

4 out of 5 of those states voted to abolish that line in their constitutions and make this act illegal. Surprisingly, the state of Louisiana voted overwhelmingly to keep this practice in their state.

However, there may be more than meets the eye here, and certainly something I’ll look into in a later article.


Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark legislation that made abortions legal and accessible for women across the country.

While this action didn’t outlaw abortions outright, it sent the matter back to the states and as you can imagine, blue states kept it legal and accessible, and red states made it illegal or severely limited it.

Kentucky and Michigan were two states that had abortions on its ballot. Voters in Michigan made abortions legal and accessible in their state constitution while voters in Kentucky rejected measures that would have restricted abortions in their state.

Recreational Marijuana

To lighten things up a bit, both Maryland and Missouri voted to make recreational Marijuana legal in their state. Bringing the total number of states to approve laws like this to 21 overall.

This shows a growing acceptance of measures like this and could see eventual legalization across the nation.

There were several other measures across the country like these, a quick search on your state’s elections website will show you what was on the ballot and what failed and what passed.

Elections that made headlines

While there were over 400 separate elections being held on November 8th, only a few really stood out.

Warnock Vs. Walker

Until recently, all eyes were on Georgia for control of the Senate but now that the Democrats have control of the upper chamber, they’re looking to expand that majority with a Warnock win.

The race in Georgia between Warnock and Walker was too close to call and now a runoff election will be held on November 6th. While the stakes are now not as high, I have a feeling Georgia’s gonna be on our minds until then!

Fetterman Vs Oz

John Fetterman won against challenger Mehmet Oz, the celebrity surgeon, and a Trump-backed candidate for Senate in Pennslyvania. Flipping the seat for the Dems.

Boebert Vs Frisch

Lauren Boebert is a far-right member of the House, election denier, and ardent Trump supporter. Her antics are too long to list here but she was heavily expected to easily win her reelection campaign.

Instead, she’s found herself in a real horse race with challenger Adam Frisch. Unfortunately, after a hard-fought and close campaign, Mr. Frisch would end up conceding to Boebert.

Ron DeSantis

You don’t have to be a hardcore politico to have heard about the Republican Governor of Florida. In this election, he handily won his reelection campaign and as a result, has gained a lot of potential as a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President in 2024, much to the chagrin of Trump.

Gregg Abbott

Gregg Abbott has made headlines lately for sending migrants all over the country along a host of other issues this past year or so but somehow he was able to defeat Beto O’ Rourke this go around.

But funnily enough, if you know enough about Texas politics, this isn’t too surprising to hear, so the sensation around this win is more of an indictment on O’ Rourke than Abbot winning.

Katie Hobbs

Katie Hobbs, the now former Secretary of State for Arizona beat election denying, Kari Lake for the Governorship! It was a close race, with a lot at stake but her win shows the cracks in the loyalism to Trump and could signal a change for the country.

Adrian Fontes

I’ve spoken about Mr. Fontes a few times now, but his race was important because his defeat of Mark Fincham shows that the voters of Arizona may be sick and tired of Trump’s lies and it could be an indicator of how the rest of the country will feel in 2024.

There were several other races that were headline-worthy but again, these really stuck out in the media landscape I’ll be writing plenty on the new Congress and its members as the days go on, so come on back, okay!

What was the Red Wave?

To put it simply, the “Red Wave” was something that candidates, pundits, and the media were predicting was going to happen this midterm.

It means that Republicans would win so many elections across the country that a “Wave” of Republican wins would wash over the country and they would take majority control of the government.

It didn’t happen. It was bad, really bad actually. Most Trump-backed candidates lost, they failed to take control of the Senate and while they have the House, it’s looking like it’s going to be a slim majority.

So, what was supposed to be a large wave, turned out to be a dud.

Rounding this out

The US Midterm 2022 was an exciting election! Plenty happened and even though we’re going into a split government in the next term, I’m optimistic, hopeful even, that maybe, just maybe, the winds of change are happening here.

While the GOP seems to be on the extreme edge, MAGA might be dying, and that’s something to be happy about. We have to keep fighting for so much in this country. Voting rights, a woman’s right to choose, healthcare, Climate change…

This Red Wave disappointment might be the first step toward those changes happening.

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