No GOP ‘wave,’ but Republicans could still gain control of U.S. House

The exact size of the Republican majority won’t be known until more races are called. Some races may not be known for days

By: , and - November 9, 2022 8:49 am
The U.S. Capitol. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The U.S. Capitol (Samuel Corum/Getty Images).

WASHINGTON — Republicans fell short of their greatest ambitions for major gains in the U.S. House, with control of the chamber still in doubt early Wednesday.

Republicans are still likely to narrowly win control of the U.S. House, based on expert projections. But of 20 races rated by elections forecaster Inside Elections as true toss-ups, Democrats had won seven and none had been called for Republicans as of about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Republicans only needed to win two toss-ups to likely have a majority in the House.

If projections stand and Republicans take over, they would end two years of unified control of Washington by Democrats. The divided government would be unlikely to pursue the ambitious bills on climate, taxes, health care and other issues that Democrats passed in the first two years of President Joe Biden’s administration, and may see fights over usually noncontroversial bills like those to raise the country’s debt limit or keep the government open.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, said around 2 a.m. from a ballroom in a Washington, D.C. hotel that he was confident the GOP would control the U.S. House during the next Congress.

“Now let me tell you, you’re out late, but when you wake up tomorrow, we will be in the majority and Nancy Pelosi will be in the minority,” McCarthy said during the three-and-a-half minute speech.

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McCarthy said a Republican U.S. House majority would “offer a new direction” though he added that “Republicans will work with anyone who’s willing to join us to deliver this new direction that Americans have demanded.”

Early results are in line with historical trends for midterm elections, when the party opposite the president typically gains seats. This election was not likely to be one of the exceptions, with Biden carrying low approval ratings.

Still, Democrats outperformed expectations. Republicans did not inspire a wave election that would have given them a more comfortable margin in the House.

Of three vulnerable House Democrats in Virginia, for example, Republicans defeated only one, Elaine Luria. Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton held on in districts considered slightly more favorable to Democrats.

In another sign of how far Republicans were from the decisive takeover they sought, Colorado U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a far-right member expected to cruise to reelection, had a surprisingly close race and actually trailed Democratic challenger Adam Frisch by 3 percentage points with almost 80% counted at about 11 p.m. Mountain time.

Democrats are projected to hang onto competitive seats, including in:

  • Virginia’s 7th District (incumbent Spanberger won reelection).
  • Kansas’ 3rd District (incumbent Sharice Davids won reelection).
  • New Hampshire’s 1st District (incumbent Democrat Chris Pappas won reelection).
  • North Carolina’s 13th District (state Sen. Wiley Nickel defeated Bo Hines, a former North Carolina State University football player who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.)
  • Ohio’s 9th District, a redrawn district that put 40-year incumbent Marcy Kaptur’s reelection in serious jeopardy. Kaptur turned back Trump-aligned GOP challenger J.R. Majewski.

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Jacob Fischler
Jacob Fischler

Jacob covers federal policy as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Based in Oregon, he focuses on Western issues. His coverage areas include climate, energy development, public lands and infrastructure.

Ariana Figueroa
Ariana Figueroa

Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance.

Jennifer Shutt
Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing and aid to families.