Here’s what we know so far about the 2022 midterms: Democrats have retained control of the Senate by a 50-49 vote margin. Georgia’s Senate seat has yet to be determined as neither incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock nor challenger Herschel Walker received a majority of votes. Under Georgia law, they must face each other again, in a runoff election to be held on Dec. 6. Control of the House of Representatives has yet to be determined as vote counting continues, mostly in the western states. However, Republicans are likely to regain control of the House based on the races that have been called so far.
But that only begins to tell the story. Democrats were expecting a much different outcome. Midterms have historically been a referendum on the party in power. The average loss of seats in the House has been 28 since World War II. It has been 43 seats when the president’s poll ratings were below 50%. President Biden’s approval ratings have not cracked 50% since the summer of 2021. High inflation and gasoline prices, as well as rising crime, also led most observers to believe Democrats were headed to a bloodbath on Election Day. So, what happened? Well, other issues motivated voters as well. Abortion, for example, ran a close second to inflation in exit polls – 31% to 27%. Also, candidates and campaigns mattered. Democrats, and Republicans, did best in races where they were able to connect to voters’ concerns.
What does this mean for golf? Republicans are projected to win 220 seats in the House after all ballots are counted. With 218 needed for a majority, it’s not clear whether they would have sufficient votes in their caucus to pass major legislation. They would have control over all committees, including those with oversight over the Biden Administration. So, expect to see more hearings. In the Senate, Democrats retain control, which clears the pathway for agency appointees and judicial nominations. And, if Raphael Warnock retains his seat, it would be easier to pass those appointees without requiring Vice President Harris to cast the deciding vote. As for legislation, Democrats and Republicans will have to compromise if they want to send anything to the President’s desk. This could bode well for golf in areas like H-2B visas, where a bipartisan consensus agrees that more visas are needed in times of record low unemployment. We will know more when Congress chooses its leaders this week and also makes decisions as to what legislation will be taken up during a lame duck session in December. Regardless, golf will continue to make its voice heard.