The 2022 midterm elections: a simplified guide to positions, parties and power


Liv Baker

Teacher Mark Snodgrass provides many posters in his classroom that encourage students to vote and explain the election process.

Elizabeth Martin, Editor

Nov. 8 was a turning point in recent American politics. Covered on almost all major media outlets and debated widely, the 2022 midterm congressional elections took center stage in the political world for weeks with voters eager to see their ballots counted and office positions filled. However, without any outside context or prior understanding, events like these can be confusing for the average American, leaving individuals wondering what all of the complex terms and charts and percentages mean. So, here is a simplified guide to and analysis of the midterm congressional elections’ results, and what they mean for the country going forward. 

U.S. congressional elections are biennial, meaning that they occur every two years. When they occur halfway through the present president’s term, like those conducted this year, they are called “midterms.” Additionally, although U.S. presidential races only occur every four years, the midterms hold extreme significance for the president as well, as power and majority in Congress are up for grabs. The president has a vested interest in ensuring that the midterms lean in favor of their respective political party. 

According to, “[While] Joe Biden is not on the ballot – the midterms decide who controls Congress as well as state legislatures and governor’s offices. But the elections will give voters an opportunity to indirectly express their views on his presidency and the current direction of the country.” 

So, what positions are on the line? The U.S. Congress is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives, both law-making bodies that play influential roles in federal processes and affairs. The Senate is made up of 100 seats, with two senators from each state, and one-third of these seats are up for grabs during midterm elections. Senators are elected for six-year terms, and directly under their purview include powers like proposing legislation, amending/writing bills, regulating the federal budget, confirming presidential appointments and controlling filibusters. 

On the other hand, there are 435 seats in the House of Representatives, with the number representing each state dependent on that state’s population. In more densely populated states like California and Texas, there are upwards of around 30 to 50 representatives, while less populated states like Montana and Wyoming only have one. This split in the amount of representation for each U.S. state in Congress is the long-lasting result of early-American debates over equal versus population-based representation. In the “Great Compromise” of 1787, it was decided that there would be a “bicameral” congressional body, giving a fair political chance to both smaller and larger states. 

Representatives in the House are elected every two years. Although larger in size, this “lower chamber” of Congress ultimately holds less power than the Senate; it oversees processes like the initiation of revenue bills, federal impeachment trials and tie-breaking in the unlikely case of an Electoral College tie. While the Senate is intended to be more separated from outside influence, the House, since terms are so short and representatives are almost always campaigning for re-election, largely reflects the court of public opinion.  

So, why are the elections of these representatives important? 

“Whoever controls the House or the Senate controls the agenda,” said George Washington University politics professor Gary Nordlinger, according to To have power in Congress, parties need to have the majority standing, meaning that they need to have the most representatives from their given party in the Senate and the House. And, while some states are definitively “red” and “blue,” predictable in the directions they’ll lean and strongholds for their respective parties, others are “purple.” Polls in purple states show split opinion, and the ultimate direction they’ll lean is a toss-up. Hence, these states hold the key races to watch. 

In the 2022 midterms, key Senate races included that of Democrat John Fetterman versus Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto versus Republican Adam Laxalt in Nevada and Democrat Raphael Warnock versus Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia. However, the Georgia Senate race, since there was no majority winner in November, resulted in a “runoff” election in early December. In a runoff, another election is held and the two candidates with the most midterm votes are the only names on the ballot. Warnock won the Georgia runoff. 

Prior to the Nov. 8 elections, Democrats had control of the Senate, and they have officially kept that title. However, Republicans have now taken the House for the first time since 2018. While a split Congress is not optimal for the president, as moving forward with his intended agenda will now become significantly more difficult, control of the Senate puts him in a slightly better position than if Democrats just had the House. After all, the Senate tends to retain more power and the Vice President is the ultimate tiebreaker in Congress.