The 2022 midterms, deciding the balance of power in Congress, have been bitter, fractious and expensive in the billions. Even the very notion of democracy and the civil ritual of voting were under attack.
President Joe Biden, presiding over narrow Democratic control of Washington, has seen his approval ratings buffeted by soaring inflation, fears about crime and lingering effects of the pandemic.
Republicans, meanwhile, have had to deal with a rift between the party’s establishment wing and President Donald Trump.
The party that celebrates winning the White House is usually mourning a loss in the midterms two years later.
Add to that historical pattern an economy battered by inflation and teetering on recession, throw in fears about crime, and the outcome is almost assured.
For Biden and House Democrats, the likelihood of keeping power in the lower chamber of Congress was always slight. Republicans have expected to gain enough seats to retake the majority. If successful, they also have plans to neuter Biden’s agenda for the next two years.
Since 1906, there have been only three midterms in which the party of the president in power gained House seats: 1934, when the country was struggling with a Depression, 1998 when the U.S. was buoyed by a soaring economy, and 2002, when President George W. Bush had a sky-high approval rating amid the national feeling of unity after the Sept. 11 attacks.