UNITED STATES NEWS

6 things to watch ahead of high-stakes midterm elections

Nov 7, 2022, 8:12 AM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 1:59 pm
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of the campaign of Sen. Marco R...

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of the campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of primaries, campaign events and fundraising pleas, the midterm elections that will determine the balance of power in Washington and state capitals are finally here.

Republicans are predicting a massive red wave as anxious Democrats defend their narrow majorities in Congress while struggling to overcome pervasive concerns about the economy, crime and President Joe Biden’s leadership. Democrats are hoping that a backlash against the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade will save them.

The political environment has led to an unusually large playing field as emboldened Republicans press into Democratic strongholds like New York, California, New Mexico and Washington state. Still, the marquee races are taking place in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which could help determine the outcome of the 2024 presidential contest.

Because of close contests and extended vote counting, it could take days or weeks before the final outcome is known in several key races.

What we’re watching on Election Day:

RED WAVE RISING?

All signs point to Republicans making significant gains on Tuesday. But whether it’s a red ripple or a tsunami remains to be seen.

Voters are overwhelmingly pessimistic about the direction of the country as inflation surges and political divisions explode. And history suggests that voters will take out their frustrations on the party in power.

The party that occupies the White House has suffered significant losses in nearly every president’s first midterm election for more than a century. Exceptions were in 1934 during the Great Depression; in 1998 during the effort to impeach Bill Clinton; and in 2002 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Democrats were initially hopeful that the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate abortion rights might be enough to disrupt historical trends — or at least limit their losses — but party leaders have turned increasingly concerned as Election Day approached.

Operatives in both parties expect the GOP to win the House majority, which would require a net gain of five seats. But with a big wave, the GOP could win 25 new seats or more. Sensing opportunity, Republican groups invested millions of dollars in Democratic-leaning districts in California, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania in the election’s final days.

The fight for the Senate majority is more competitive. If Republicans pick up even one seat, they would control the Senate’s upper chamber.

Democrats are fighting to protect vulnerable incumbents in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire, while Republicans believe they’re within striking distance in Colorado and Washington state. The GOP chances are hampered somewhat by flawed candidates in Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire, who have been boosted by former President Donald Trump.

Pennsylvania represents the Democrats’ best opportunity to flip a Republican-held seat, while GOP-held seats in North Carolina and Wisconsin also remain close.

At the same time, races for governor and statewide officers like secretary of state loom larger than normal. The political environment is giving Republicans confidence in gubernatorial races in blue states like Oregon and New Mexico.

Should a massive red wave materialize, Democrats may struggle everywhere.

THE ROE EFFECT

After the Supreme Court eliminated Roe v. Wade in June, Republicans, including Trump, worried aloud that the decision might trigger a backlash against GOP candidates who oppose abortion rights. And there have been signs in recent months that voters — suburban women and younger voters, in particular — were energized and ready to vote for Democrats on Nov. 8.

But more than four months after the ruling, the abortion effect may be fading.

Democratic candidates have shifted their message away from abortion in recent weeks, at least somewhat, in favor of the economy, Social Security and Medicare. And some elected officials, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, warned that Democrats have relied too much on abortion rights as a galvanizing issue.

The issue is especially critical in the push for suburban women, a group that swung against Trump’s GOP in 2020 and seemed to swing back after Trump left office when the GOP shifted its focus to pandemic restrictions and the economy.

DO LATINO VOTERS DRIFT FURTHER RIGHT?

Democrats sought to improve their outreach to Latinos after underperforming with the group in 2020. But there are reasons to believe that Democrats may do even worse this year among the key voting bloc, long a pillar of the party’s coalition.

Both parties have been especially focused on the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, made up of heavily Latino communities where the Biden administration’s struggle to address problems along the U.S.-Mexico border is a central issue. The GOP believes it will win as many as three House seats in the former Democratic stronghold.

The GOP is also bullish about its standing in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, home to 1.5 million Latinos of voting age and a Democratic stronghold for the past 20 years. The GOP made significant gains there in the last presidential election.

Should Democrats lose Miami-Dade, it would virtually eliminate their path to victory in statewide contests, including presidential elections.

The Latino vote will be consequential in other states but none more so than in Arizona and Nevada, where Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, the nation’s first Latina senator, is locked in a close race.

HOW DO TRUMP’S CANDIDATES PERFORM?

Trump remains a dominant force in the Republican Party, but Tuesday’s contests will test his strength among the broader electorate.

He is not on the ballot, of course, but dozens of Trump-endorsed candidates are. They include several controversial picks who beat out alternatives backed by the party’s establishment.

Should Trump’s higher-profile endorsees struggle, it would raise questions about his political strength as he weighs a 2024 presidential run that could be launched shortly after the midterms.

In Pennsylvania, Trump loyalist Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor, has struggled in the polls against Democrat Josh Shapiro. Trump’s pick for the Senate, Dr. Mehmet Oz, is locked in a close race with Democrat John Fetterman. In Arizona, gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Senate contender Blake Masters, who both promoted Trump’s lies of a stolen 2020 election, are in position to win.

Other Trump loyalists to watch: Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance, North Carolina Senate contender Ted Budd, Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon and New York gubernatorial hopeful Lee Zeldin.

THE 2024 IMPACT

In ways big and small, the 2022 midterms will help shape the 2024 election.

A bad night for Democrats could undermine Biden’s rationale for a second term. And Trump would almost certainly seize on sweeping Republican victories as evidence of his political strength ahead of a third prospective White House bid.

Good-government advocates are particularly worried about dozens of election deniers running for state office across several presidential battlegrounds.

In Nevada, Republican Jim Marchant is running to become the secretary of state, the state’s chief elections official. Marchant is head of the America First Secretary of State Coalition, a collection of Trump loyalists who falsely say the 2020 election was plagued by voter fraud.

It’s the same in Arizona and Michigan, where fellow coalition members Mark Finchem and Kristina Karamo are running for secretary of state. And in Pennsylvania, Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, another vocal election denier, would have the authority, if he wins, to appoint his own chief elections official.

Election administration aside, other statewide candidates could use a strong showing on Tuesday to position themselves for the 2024 ticket.

Lake, Arizona’s Republican candidate for governor, is already thought to be a potential Trump running mate. And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for reelection Tuesday, is also considering a 2024 presidential bid, whether Trump runs or not.

WHAT WILL WE KNOW BEFORE WE GO TO BED?

It’s possible — maybe even likely — that the outcome in several key contests may take days or even weeks to be finalized.

The reasons are many.

In Georgia, a candidate must earn at least 50% of the vote to win outright. Otherwise, the election goes to a Dec. 6 runoff. Strategists on both sides believe the state’s Senate race, in particular, may do just that.

In other states, the process of counting votes can be long and complicated, especially as voting by mail becomes more popular.

Under Arizona law, for example, all ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day, but officials have 20 days to finalize their counts. In Nevada, counties have four days to count late-arriving mail ballots and give voters two more days to fix mail ballots that arrive in envelopes with errors or missing information.

In some swing states, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, officials are not allowed to begin validating mail ballots until Election Day. Nineteen states provide a grace period to receive mail ballots as long as they were sent by Election Day. Such ballots in California can be received up to seven days later.

This could take a while.

___

Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow the AP’s election coverage of the 2022 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              FILE - U.S. Rep Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for New York governor,  participates in a debate against incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul hosted by Spectrum News NY1, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, at Pace University in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool, File)
            
              Mehmet Oz, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, speaks during a campaign event in Washington Crossing, Pa., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
            
              Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of the campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              President Joe Biden and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul stand on stage during a campaign event at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
            Former President Bill Clinton, right, is joined onstage by U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., during a campaign stop at the Nevada State AFL-CIO offices in Henderson, Nev., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. Masto is running against Republican candidate Adam Laxalt. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP) Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks during a campaign event in Newtown, Pa., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) President Joe Biden takes a photo with people in the crowd after speaking at a campaign event for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, N.Y. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) FILE - Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia, speaks during a campaign stop in Smyrna, Ga., Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock meet Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Georgia's Senate contest that could help determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years. More than 2.5 million Georgia voters have already cast ballots, about a 20% increase over advanced voting in 2018. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland, File) Nevada Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt meets with supporters at a campaign stop Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Las Vegas. Laxalt is running against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher) FILE - JD Vance, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senator for Ohio, speaks at a campaign rally in Youngstown, Ohio, Sept. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar, File) FILE - Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, talks with reporters following a debate with other Democrats at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, March 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, File)

United States News

Jorge Rodriguez, from the Venezuelan government delegation, center, speaks to the media as he arriv...
Associated Press

Venezuela’s gov, opponents resume talks; US eases sanction

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Venezuela’s government and its opposition on Saturday agreed to create a U.N.-managed fund to finance health, food and education programs for the poor, while the Biden administration eased some oil sanctions on the country in an effort to boost the newly restarted talks between the sides. The agreement signed in Mexico […]
12 hours ago
FILE - A Chevron sign is displayed outside one of the company's gas stations in Bradenton, Fla., Fe...
Associated Press

Biden eases Venezuela sanctions as opposition talks resume

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Saturday eased some oil sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to support newly restarted negotiations between President Nicolás Maduro’s government and its opposition. The Treasury Department is allowing Chevron to resume “limited” energy production in Venezuela after years of sanctions that have dramatically curtailed oil and gas profits […]
12 hours ago
FILE - This file booking photo provided by the Delaware Department of Justice shows Barry Croft Jr....
Associated Press

Judge denies bid for new trial in Whitmer kidnapping case

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a new trial request by two men convicted of conspiring to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Lawyers for Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. alleged misconduct by a juror and unfairness by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker following their conviction by a federal jury […]
12 hours ago
FILE - This photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson.  A federa...
Associated Press

Judge denies 19-year-old’s ask to attend father’s execution

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal judge has denied a request from a 19-year-old woman to allow her to watch her father’s death by injection, upholding a Missouri law that bars anyone under 21 from witnessing an execution. Kevin Johnson is set to be executed Tuesday for killing Kirkwood, Missouri, Police Officer William McEntee in […]
12 hours ago
FILE - This March 6, 2014, file photo shows the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the nation's only unde...
Associated Press

US nuclear waste repository begins filling new disposal area

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Workers at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository have started using a newly mined disposal area at the underground facility in southern New Mexico. Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant made the announcement this week, saying the first containers of waste to be entombed in the new area came […]
12 hours ago
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at the Broward County Courthouse i...
Associated Press

New state voter fraud units finding few cases from midterms

WASHINGTON (AP) — State-level law enforcement units created after the 2020 presidential election to investigate voter fraud are looking into scattered complaints more than two weeks after the midterms but have provided no indication of systemic problems. That’s just what election experts had expected and led critics to suggest that the new units were more […]
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
6 things to watch ahead of high-stakes midterm elections