The still-ongoing midterm elections had some very unexpected results across the board. Going into the election, it seemed liked it would be the same as nearly every other midterm election – a disaster for the current controlling party. 538, for example, a source that conglomerates the data of many different pollsters, had the election sitting at a 57% chance for Republicans to control both chambers of Congress.
In the first few hours of election night, that vision seemed to be coming true – Rand Paul won his Senate seat in Kentucky as quickly as Ron DeSantis did his governorship, for example. All the talking points about a red wave sweeping across the nation looked to be correct. The American democracy was about to face Republican leadership, election denying secretaries of state with their potential newfound power under the Moore v. Harper decision, and a terrible election in 2024 that would upend us even further.
However, that didn’t happen. Slowly but surely, Democrats started to win – not only in their expected races, but also in key swing races like the Senate seat in Pennsylvania won by Fetterman or, most recently, Catherine Cortez Masto in her respective Senate seat from Nevada. With Cortez Masto, Democrats had successfully secured the Senate with the potential for 51 caucus members after the Georgia runoff.
Not only that, but election-denying Republicans – and those supported by Trump – almost universally performed horribly in the midterms. The Oz v. Fetterman race was a perfect example – Oz lost the race as a Trump-endorsed candidate with 538 estimates categorizing him as slightly favored to win as of the time of the election. Perhaps more importantly, election deniers running for secretary of state in their “America First” slate lost all but one of their races.
Unsurprisingly, this upset victory resulted in a wave of comments, articles, posts, and more about how democracy was saved in the election. To an extent, those views are correct – all the elections with catastrophic potential, namely the secretaries of state, went significantly better than expected. It seemed like the Trump brand of Republicans had died out a bit with so many Trump-backed candidates doing poorly.
That thought process can only last for so long, though. This election hasn’t stopped Trump, who, regardless of turnout here, has a massive contingent of the Republicans on his side - from contesting the election or spouting far-right rhetoric to the masses. It hasn’t stopped the fact that Moore v. Harper will be decided by the SCOTUS soon and determine the fate of future elections in a horrific way. It hasn’t stopped the fact that Republicans across the country – and conservatives across the world – continue to suppress voters that disagree with them. And at home, it hasn’t stopped new, and more politically versed, far-right candidates from taking the spotlight.
In this vein, Trump’s recent feud with Ron Desantis shouldn’t be taken lightly. It might be funny in the moment to watch two of the most powerful voices in the Republican Party fight, but Desantis’ recognition by Trump as a threat speaks to his increasing political power. With the SCOTUS still six-three red, many courts still heavily packed from the Trump administration, and a burgeoning far-right political force in Ron Desantis, we cannot be too cautious. One good election doesn’t fix or save democracy, and one good election doesn’t mean we can stop voting, stop protesting, or stop activism.