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(Caveat: Complete election results – in Oregon and across the country – won’t be known for more than a week. In Georgia, US Senate results will not be known for several weeks as they will have a runoff election in December. So, any of the conclusions I suggest could be wrong.)
There is an old cliché about the view depending a lot on which end of a telescope one looks through. That could be quite appropriate of the 2022 election results.
On the one hand, Republicans could be forgiven for expecting a huge Red Wave of victories. Nationally, Joe Biden – when compared to his predecessors -- is one of the most unpopular presidents at this point in his first term. Add to that inflation, gas prices, supply chain problems, and international instability, and you have a recipe for GOP success.
Here in Oregon, Kate Brown has been the Governor with the lowest in-state popularity for many months. Add to that the very visible homelessness issue, crime increasing, and nightly rioting in Portland last year (with her tacit support) and local Republicans thought the expected national swing to the GOP might actually include Oregon this year (for a change).
The Republican electoral expectations, which were amplified by much of the press, were sky high. Unrealistically high as it turned out. So, even victories are now being cast as a defeat. So, let’s look down the other end of the telescope, for just a moment, for some perspective.
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Republicans WILL take control of the US House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi’s reign is over. While the margin will be thin, this is still a huge victory for Republicans. They won control of the House. They can stop President Biden’s agenda cold. But if you watch any of the talking heads, all they talk about is how poorly Republicans performed on election night. Winning is winning.
To be fair, the US Senate is still up in the air.
In Oregon over the past 20 years, only two of nearly 35 statewide partisan races have been won by a Republican. So, to expect Christine Drazan to beat Tina Kotek (even with Betsy Johnson as a spoiler) was a tall order. Statistically there was better than a 90 percent chance that Kotek would win the election.
Oregon had three open Congressional seats (out of six total) on election night. Republicans talked in serious tones about winning all three. Or at least two of them. This, despite Democrats redrawing all the lines last year. The fact that Republican still may, in fact, win one of them (giving us four Democrats and two Republicans) should be considered a huge win. Republicans were actually competitive in all three districts drawn by Democrats. That’s amazing.
And in the state house and senate, Republicans WILL make gains and narrow the Democrat’s majority. In fact, it is likely the Republicans have eliminated the Democrats supermajorities in both the senate and house. That’s a pretty darn good year for the GOP -- in Oregon of all places.
Please note that in Oregon, not only are there thousands of votes still to be counted as this is being written, but because of a new law allowing ballots postmarked on election day to count, Oregon counties literally don’t even know how many more votes are still to come in to be counted over the next few days. Properly postmarked ballots will still count as long as they arrive at election offices within seven days of the election.
Yes, Republicans did underperform unrealistically high expectations in Oregon and across the nation. But Republicans won. Republicans made gains nationally. Republicans made gains in Oregon. Republicans have reason to celebrate, not dismay, over the election results.
p.s. I will provide updates as election results are certified and more is certain.