A series of tight races, like the yet-to-be-determined Senate race in Georgia, and a few flipped seats have Democrats nationwide a little nervous since the midterm elections capped in early November. Regardless, Black voters seemingly showed up to the polls in droves.
Elected officials waited with bated breaths to see where the balance of power would be in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
In New York State, congress lost seats in Nassau County and Hudson Valley to Republicans and there was a tip to the Republican side for control of the House. U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chair of the House Democratic Caucus and next in line to be House speaker, was adamant about Democratic efforts to retake the majority in November 2024.
“Democrats at our best fight for the people,” said Jeffries in a presser this Tuesday. He plans on centering “the messaging principle” that values unity, defends freedom and promotes economic opportunity for families nationwide. Jeffries also advocated for a thorough data collection to see what Democrats can improve upon in swing districts.
Meanwhile voters still have to wait until Dec. 6 to see who gets control of the Senate. The runoff election between Black candidates, incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker will be the deciding factor.
“Of course it’s concerning that you see that we lost seats in certain places,” commented Harlem State Sen. Cordell Cleare. “Some people did much better than I feel they should have done in this city but that just means we have a lot of work to do as Democrats in our communities to make sure that we’re educating people. To make sure that we’re motivating people, igniting a flame in the community and addressing things in our own party.”
Corey Dukes, lead of state-level advocacy at Protect Democracy, offered an analysis of the performance of Republicans and Democrats this year. The usual midterms is that the party not in power makes a play on the party in power. He said that the midterm elections were surprising since “most expected outcomes” were assumed to be in favor of Republicans.
“Whether you thought it was going to be a red wave or tsunami, I think that the expectation was that like normal midterm elections with imperiled economic environments the party that’s not in power would win a lot of seats,” said Dukes in his analysis. “So I think folks are quite surprised.”
Two things Dukes noted about this year’s midterms as good milestones was the underperformance of “election deniers” or people who still believe that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and very strong turnout from women, youth and voters of color.
“People have a lot more faith and trust in democracy, and when they’re presented on the ballot with folks who question or deny the results and would attempt to overturn the results, they made their voices heard very clearly,” said Dukes.
Slate reported that across the ballot, Democrats and “sane Republicans” put money into defeating election deniers. So even though former President Donald Trump announced a run for a second term in 2024 against President Joe Biden, and Congress hasn’t passed Electoral Count Act reform yet, there’s still hope on the horizon for democracy, said Slate.
Rukia Lumumba and Kayla Reed, co-leaders of the Electoral Justice Project of the Movement for Black Lives, added to that sentiment. They said that communities of color made history on Election Day by showing up at the polls in extraordinary numbers to vote for people and policies in places such as Alabama, Tennessee, Oregon, Vermont, Michigan, California, Kentucky and Arizona.
“We elected several progressive Black candidates who will be the firsts in their states, and 90% of Black voters helped flip Pennsylvania’s Senate seat blue. Black organizers in St. Louis mobilized voters to legalize marijuana, expunge records and elect three Black progressive leaders to office, each of whom was previously outraised by their opponent,” said the co-leaders in a statement. “This was all possible because of the tireless efforts of Black voters, organizers and activists, who time and again lead the fight for Black liberation.”
They said based on exit poll data, Black people are a “united front” when it comes to voting, at least in 2022, and posited that any seats Democrats lost were because the party moved toward the center at the expense of Black families and communities.
“A MAGA Republican-controlled House of Representatives is a setback, but we have generations of practice coming together to fight for our freedom,” said the co leaders.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics in New York City for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://bit.ly/amnews1