Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s (D-Nev.) win over Republican Adam Laxalt in Nevada clinched the 50th vote for Democrats after days of uncertainty over thousands of mail-in ballots. Georgia’s Senate race, whose impact may be felt more strongly in 2024, will be determined by a Dec. 6 runoff election.
Republicans hoped that voter dissatisfaction with Democratic policies and high inflation would usher in a “red wave,” carrying them to victory in both chambers of Congress. While they did make gains in some states like Florida and New York, Republican candidates, many of them extremists who were backed by former President Donald Trump, underperformed elsewhere around country.
Democrats made the future of democracy a key issue in the closing days of the race. They argued that the scores of GOP election deniers on the ballot this year presented a critical threat that ought to be rejected before the next presidential election, especially with twice-impeached former President Donald Trump teasing another run for the White House.
First, they’ll have an easier time filling vacancies in Biden’s cabinet and have another two years to reshape the federal courts. Biden’s team has been remarkably stable, especially compared to Trump’s. But several department heads are expected to depart in the coming months, and he’ll now have a better chance of confirming their replacements.
In the first half of his term, Biden also confirmed a record number of judges, a group more diverse than any prior president’s. A GOP-controlled Senate would have put a stop to that streak ― and likely would have ended any possibility of an appointment to the Supreme Court, should a vacancy arise.
Republicans have already indicated that they will refuse to support a debt ceiling increase without extracting major policy concessions from Democrats, such as cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The 2011 debt ceiling fight resulted in the first-ever downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. A default on the debt would be disastrous.
Finally, Democrats now face a slightly easier path in 2024, when they will contend with a particularly brutal map. Democrats will have to defend seven seats in states former President Donald Trump won at least once, with only two pick-up opportunities. Republicans are hoping to run up the margins in that election, with even some early talk of potentially reaching a filibuster-proof majority.