Joe Biden might one day look back fondly on the first two years of his presidency as a carefree ride in his beloved Corvette convertible.
Because the next two could be more painful.
The potential loss of his party from the US House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections would mean both personal and professional turmoil.
It probably means a hostile legislature blocking their legislative agenda and investigating your sonits family businesses, its administration officials, the fbieven Dr Anthony Fauci.
Here’s the most surprising part, though: Biden may be celebrating.
That’s because something unusual happened on the way to the widely anticipated thrashing of the Democrats: It didn’t happen at all.
“It’s definitely not a Republican wave, that’s for sure,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham lamented on NBC.
The incumbent president’s party appeared to lose its narrow majority in the US House of Representatives, though it remained unexpectedly competitive.
He defied historical trends in the process.
This was not the kind of midterm thrashing routinely administered to sitting presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton to Barack Obama.
The results are full of hope for Biden. And they include pieces of coal for his opponents, including his main nemesis, Donald Trump.
Republicans won far fewer seats than the average for an opposition party in the middle term: They may just barely win the House, and they may not win the Senate at all.
It was closer than the generations norm for the midterm elections, where the opposition party almost always dominates with an average gain of 27 House seats since World War II.
But the Republicans actually lost the governorships and legislative seats they previously held. Various election deniers lost races a control the voting process in oscillating states.
The anti-abortion side lost referendums. Trump’s staunchest allies lost or underperformed, such as in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race and the Georgia and New Hampshire Senate races. Mainstream Republicans fared better.
For example, Georgia: Trump-backed Republican Herschel Walker, the football legend, won far fewer votes in a Senate race than a Republican Trump foe, Brian Kemp, did in the state’s gubernatorial race. .
Democrats held control in several swing states — Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania — and unexpectedly won new powers in some state legislatures.
Wisconsin’s re-elected Democratic governor listed the issues that contributed to his victory and then concluded with the big picture: Voters largely rejected conspiracy theorists and election deniers.
“You showed up because you saw that our democracy was on the brink,” Tony Evers said in his victory speech. “And you decided to do a damn thing about it.”
In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer celebrated her own re-election and the pro-choice side’s victory in a referendum that will preserve access to abortion in her state: “We’re thrilled.”
Pro-Trump conspiracy mongers tried and failed to gain control of election administration in Michigan and several other states where they lost elections for governor and secretary of state.
Perhaps the most unsettling news of all for Trump: One of the most dominant performances of the night came from Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor who now emerges as his only early rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Which explains the immediate talk among conservatives about whether it’s time to turn the page on Trump, who has been on a losing streak since his only upset victory in 2016.
Some Republicans sounded anxious twist the knife in Trump’s political career.
“This is really a turning point for the Republican Party,” said Geoff Duncan, Trump’s representative. critical and Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia.
“This is a moment where Donald Trump is definitely in the rearview mirror.”
Internal GOP rivalries could have a global ripple effect
Republican leaders in Congress will have to manage such internal divisions, over policies, personalities and tactics. They will be stuck managing an unpredictable caucus.
Several House Republicans are leaning in to fight their own leadership.
For example, they want to impeach Biden, even though party leaders advise against such talk. Some, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, have already presented impeachment motions.
Those internal GOP dynamics could have a global ripple effect.
Some MPs want to cut off funding for the Ukraine war. Or use the threat of a US debt crisis to force political concessions from Biden, with potential repercussions for global markets.
Where the Democrats record stands
These are going to be an unpredictable couple of years; challenging for Republican leaders and difficult for the president and his family.
Democrats will no longer pass the bills they dream of. Your legislative agenda will likely stall at noon on January 3, 2023when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives.
That would leave Biden’s legislative scorecard as follows: a huge pandemic relief billa job recoveryhistorical climate spendingsome drug price controla wave of funding infrastructuresome gun controland new technological research.
That schedule also brought historical spent, debt record and high inflation, which undermined Democrats’ efforts to hold Congress.
American voters have now probably frozen their party’s ability to do much more. The to-do list for Democrats? Immigration reform, electoral reform, paid parental leave, expanded public health care, and statehood for Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.
Focus now on the Senate results
Eyes now turn to the United States Senate.
Democrats have a solid chance of holding it, though the results may remain uncertain for days or even weeks, depending on the counts, with the potential to deja vu Beginning in 2020: Georgia will once again have a runoff later this year to be decided by the Senate.
Democrats need to win two of the three seats in Georgia, Arizona or Nevada, where the votes are still too close.
If Democrats hold the Senate, they can continue to work on a top priority: confirming Biden’s nominees and reshaping the judiciary after a decades-long rightward swing.
And if that happens, Biden will have one more reason to smile. Even in defeat.