With Nevada Democratic win, voters repel GOP effort to take the Senate
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., speaks 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

Democrats are retaining control of the Senate after the victory Saturday of Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, blocking a Republican push to take the chamber and use it to thwart a progressive agenda. The final outcome in the House remains undetermined, but with Democrats apparently winning in district after district among those remaining, they still have a chance of also retaining control of that legislative body.

The tally as People’s World went to press Monday morning was 211 seats declared for Republicans and 206 for Democrats, with 218 required to control the chamber.

Cortez Masto’s victory shows the determination of voters to protect democracy, particularly the abortion rights of women. They came out to oppose Republicans, against predictions by the official punditry that economic challenges and the highest gas and food prices in the nation would drive a GOP victory in Nevada. Cortez Masto was considered by some commentators and the major media to be the most vulnerable Democratic senator in the nation.

A significant chunk of her margin of victory was no doubt driven by the high level of organizing by the Culinary Workers, a powerful union in the state. Also instrumental was the enormous support she received, as the first Latina senator, from the Nevada’s Latino community.

There, too, the pundits got it wrong. Nationwide, the Latino vote went 61% for Democrats and 39% for Republicans. Sections of the media, the GOP-run polling outfits, and others predicted a massive Latino defection to Republicans, something that failed to materialize in the midterms.

“We got a lot done, and we’ll do a lot more for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Saturday night. “The American people rejected—soundly rejected—the anti-democratic, authoritarian, nasty, and divisive direction the MAGA Republicans wanted to take our country.”

Use it, in case you lose it

Democratic Party leaders say that if they retain the House, they will then be able to continue President Joe Biden’s push for a progressive agenda next term

That begs the question, of course, of what they will do between now and January 1, while they still have definite control of the House. Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the only one who has come out thus far, after the Nevada Senate victory, demanding that there be no “lame duck” Senate or House this year.

Rather than wait for next year, when it is still possible that the Dems will not control the House, she is arguing they should push hard now for making Roe the law of the land and for other important legislation reflecting the will of the voters who propelled Dems to victory in the Senate.

The approach makes sense because it will be difficult for people like Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, after the voters have spoken, to hold up codifying Roe, for example, on the heels of such a decisive rejection of GOP attacks on the rights of women.

Although there is a chance the Dems may hold the House, by moving immediately on key progressive legislation, they would be doing the most effective thing possible to prepare for 2024. While Republicans are busy trying to figure out whether they want to dump Trump and how to regain power, the Dems have a chance to be seen as working hard for what the American people want.

But as usual, the punditry is already attempting to characterize the midterms as something they were not. One major article in the New York Times Monday tried to put forward the idea that the election was nothing more than a demand by voters for peace and quiet.

The nation’s leading newspaper claimed voters rejected the supposed “extremism” of both the right and the left. The writers were hard-pressed, however, to find any example of how voters were rejecting progressive ideas. They cited a single congressional district in Oregon where they claimed a progressive Democrat who had defeated a moderate Democrat in the primary was now losing her race against a Republican.

Matthew Dowd, a leader of the Lincoln Project—the organizational nexus of the anti-Trump faction in the GOP—said the elections should not be interpreted only as a rejection of the drama around Trump. He argued the vote shows that the public doesn’t want to hear about politics. The best thing, Dowd said, would be for Biden to disappear altogether for weeks at a time to give a drama-weary public a break.

Election worker inspects a mail-in ballot in Nevada, one of the key swing states where election liars went down to defeat. | Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP

God forbid he use the second half of his first term to push more of the progressive agenda the public has already shown it supports.

The Times has editorially described the vote last week as a push for “normalcy.” Again, they stay away from the idea that it was an outpouring of youth, women, African Americans, and workers in defense of their rights.

On the right, the pundits are pushing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, because of his success in gerrymandering Florida districts, as some type of GOP hero who can rise up and get rid of Trump. They are bragging about his huge margin, 19 points, over his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist.

But they saying nothing, of course, about Colorado’s Democratic Gov. Polis winning in his state by the same margin when Republicans tried hard to throw him out. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s victory in the governor’s race in Michigan also gets scant attention. After all the right-wing attacks on her, including an attempted kidnapping and murder plot, is far more impressive, however, than anything DeSantis pulled off in Florida.

DeSantis, the racist, misogynist, homophobe, and book banner that he is, can’t hold a candle to Whitmer, the popular woman at the head of Michigan’s government.

Georgia is now the only state where both parties are still competing for a Senate seat. Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock faces GOP challenger Herschel Walker in a Dec. 6 runoff. Alaska’s Senate race has advanced to ranked-choice voting, but the seat is guaranteed to stay in Republican hands.

Democratic control of the Senate ensures a smoother process for any potential Biden Cabinet shuffles or judicial picks, including those for potential Supreme Court openings. The party will also keep control over committees and have the power to conduct investigations and be able to reject legislation sent over by the House if the GOP wins that chamber.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Biden said of the election results: “I feel good. I’m looking forward to the next couple of years.”

He said winning a 51st seat from the Georgia runoff would be important and allow Democrats to boost their standing on Senate committees. “It’s just simply better,” Biden said. “The bigger the number, the better.”

Despite GOP attempts to raise fear levels over crime and inflation, they could not overcome voter anger over the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning the constitutional right to an abortion. They also focused wisely on the Republican threat to democracy, following the Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s false claims—repeated by many GOP candidates—that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Schumer said Democratic candidates’ promises to defend abortion rights resonated with voters. “We knew that the negativity, the nastiness, the condoning of Donald Trump’s big lie—and saying that the elections were rigged when there’s no proof of that at all—would hurt Republicans, not help them,” Schumer said. “But too many of them, and their candidates, fell into those traps.”

Nationally, Associated Press exit poll data showed that 7 in 10 voters said the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade was an important factor in their midterm decisions. It also showed the reversal was broadly unpopular. And roughly 6 in 10 said they favor a law guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide.

Half of voters said inflation factored significantly in their vote, while 44% said the future of democracy was their primary consideration.

Beyond Congress, Democrats won key governors’ races in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—battlegrounds critical to Biden’s 2020 win over Trump. Republicans, though, held governors’ mansions in Florida, Texas, and Georgia—another battleground state Biden narrowly won two years ago.

Though the midterms failed to deliver Republicans the red wave they hoped for, the extreme right wing, including Trump, remains a powerful factor in the party. Trump continues to hint he will announce a third run for the presidency at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida this week.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.