The results of the midterm elections are a clear reminder as to who calls the shots in a democracy. It’s the voters.
Conventional wisdom from pollsters and pundits in the lead-up to Nov. 8 was that frustration fueled primarily by high inflation and the struggling economy would lead to a “red wave” of Republican wins across the country.
As we all now know, that did not happen. And predictions of election-result denials from Republican losers also did not come true, at least for the most part. Arizona is an exception, where Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake called the vote tally into question. But her claims have been widely debunked, even as the counting continues under close scrutiny from all sides of the political spectrum.
In New Hampshire, Trump-backed Republican candidates were defeated in a U.S. Senate race and another for the House, though they trended well in many polls. And in Massachusetts, another candidate with Trump’s endorsement handily lost the race for governor, though that was widely predicted.
Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan defeated Republican Don Bolduc to retain her United States Senate seat for a second term. Hassan, a former governor, was considered vulnerable given her narrow win in 2016. But her odds improved after popular Gov. Chris Sununu took a pass at challenging her. Republicans nominated Bolduc, a retired Army general who has espoused conspiracy theories about vaccines and the 2020 presidential election. With 95% of precincts counted, Hassan took 53.6% of the vote to Bolduc’s 44.4%. That’s 331,995 for Hassan, 275,290 for Bolduc.
Chris Pappas, a two-term Democratic congressman representing the highly competitive N.H. 1st District, took on Karoline Leavitt, a 25-year-old hard-right Republican who worked as an assistant in former President Donald J. Trump’s White House press office. Fifty-four percent of voters favored Pappas, over Leavitt’s 46%.
It’s important to note that both Republican candidates did extremely well in Rockingham County.
As the campaigns progressed, Bolduc worked to distance himself from the label of “election denier,” which is one reason he might have done as well as he did. In his concession speech, he sounded a popular refrain about the role of politicians in our country: “They work for us and we don’t work for them.”
He’s right about that.
Meanwhile in Massachusetts, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey trounced Republican Geoff Diehl, taking about 64% of the vote to his 35%. In a traditionally Democratic state, that was to be expected, and Healey ran a smart campaign.
She didn’t attack and she didn’t get into too many specifics about what she planned to do.
Diehl conceded without a fight, although his campaign manager did — and rightfully so — question the speed with which the Associated Press called the race.
That happened just minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m.
Diehl also was gracious in his concession speech, telling supporters, “The people of the commonwealth have spoken. I respect their choice. And I ask everyone who supported me and Leah (Cole Allen) to give her (Healy) the same opportunity that I would have asked for if the shoe were on the other foot.”
With all the rhetoric leading up to the election, it was nice to see Diehl and other Republicans concede with grace, and with an eye on the ultimate prize, which is that we are lucky enough to live in a democracy with free and fair elections.
That’s something the voters knew all along, despite the predictions of how democracy is on the brink of extinction.
Clearly, it is not. The voters have spoken.