No Red Wave*

*Editor’s Note: On March 4, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

The director general of the Russian International Affairs Council on how the midterm elections in the U.S. exposed a split in the society.

If European political tradition associates the color red with leftist radicals and revolution, in American tradition, to the contrary, it belongs to conservatives and stands primarily for the Republican Party, which has positioned itself to the right of center on the political spectrum. The Democratic Party, situated more to the left, is usually depicted as blue.

Many experts and politicians predicted a “red wave” or a “red tsunami,” that is, a decisive victory for the Republicans and a crushing defeat for the Democrats, prior to the Nov. 8 midterm elections. It seemed there were good reasons to expect such an outcome, including a vast range of social and economic problems the Democrats had not solved — from high inflation to street crime, from uncontrolled immigration to the decline of financial markets. That was in addition to a not very charismatic and not very popular president suffering from dwindling public support who was unable to unite the country in the first two years of his term. There was also a deep internal and almost unsolvable conflict in the Democrats’ camp between moderate centrists aligned with the respected clans of Hillary and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and radical progressive supporters of the restless senator from Vermont, the Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. Political tradition in the United States in recent decades is that the minority party usually has the upper hand over the party whose leader resides in the White House during midterm elections.

However, there was no red wave. The Republican gains in the House appear to be more modest; the Democrats will most likely manage to hold the Senate.** Vote counts will continue over several more weeks, but it’s already clear that in the next two years, we won’t see the classic divided government. The gap between the two parties is too small, and there is serious doubt about the Republicans’ ability to maintain a unified front with respect to the issues on the domestic and global agenda. Besides, President Joe Biden spent 36 years in Congress and is recognized as a master in forming two-party alliances and coalitions. Still, a Republican majority in the House can draw a lot of blood from both the Democratic administration and their Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill.

So why did the Republicans suffer such a relative failure in the midterms? It probably isn’t the strength of their opponents. It is the party’s own weakness and tactical errors. In their struggle against liberals, American conservatives shifted too far to the right. For a good example, take very controversial Supreme Court decision on June 24 that removed abortion from the list of constitutional rights. The Republican camp is also split from within just like the Democrats, divided between committed “Trumpists” and those who are just as committed to rejecting the 45th president. Accordingly, the Republicans were unable to attract the political center to their cause during the election and got far fewer votes than the experts predicted.

The results of the midterm elections, with all their ambiguity, attest to a personal victory for Biden. The president, who many considered an obvious lame duck, has won two more years to put his plans and programs into action. Given the current balance of power, the Republicans in Congress will hardly be able to firmly block executive initiatives. So the probability of Biden running for a second term in 2024 has risen significantly — if his health holds up.

Donald Trump, despite celebratory rhetoric after the elections, is in a worse position. Of course, the Republicans, with added strength in the new Congress, will try to end the investigations into the former president. But the recent election was not just a referendum on Biden; it was a test of Trump’s popularity. Now his standing as the one undisputed leader of the Republican Party is in question. Many of the former president’s proteges lost in swing states. It will be hard for Trump to win his party’s presidential nomination in 2024 — harder than it seemed just a month ago. It’s likely that Trump will face a constant struggle with Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida who was triumphantly reelected. (It’s worth noting that DeSantis is more than three decades younger than Trump.)

But the main takeaway from the midterm elections is not in the victory of some American candidates and the defeat of others. The vote showed that the U.S. remains split, and this split, apparent for a considerable while, continues to widen. So far, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have a coherent strategy to resolve this divide anytime soon.

**Editor’s Note: The final votes in several races remained undecided — and thus the majorities in the House and Senate were not final — at the time this article was originally published.

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About Artem Belov 53 Articles
Artem Belov is a TESOL-certified English teacher and a freelance translator (Russian>English and English>Russian), currently residing in Russia. He is working on a number of projects, including game localization. You can reach him at

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