What are the issue stances of the new GOP majority?
On March 7, the 435th member of Congress was sworn in -- Jennifer McClellan of Virginia -- after a special election (SPEL) in February to replace Donald McEachin, who died in late November 2022. This means both chambers are now full (for the first time since 2019) after the Senate's SPEL winner was seated on January 23, 2023.
Following are all of the newly-seated members of the 118th United States Congress, including those elected in all SPELs during the 117th Congress. The slightly longer list for Republicans reflects the GOP takeover of the House majority. Our coverage for now is "thin" for most new House members, but will get filled in during the coming months, as voting occurs. The overall counts by party during the November election, not including SPELs, are:
35 newly-seated Democrats, including 12 Dem. gains and 23 Dem. holds...
41 newly-seated Republicans, including 18 GOP gains and 23 GOP holds...
Democrats newly-seated in 118th United States Congress
Republicans newly-seated in 118th United States Congress
Excerpts from Governor's early State of the State addresses
Most governors make a State of the State address to the state legistlature, or a State of the Commonwealth speech, or some other similar title. We're in the height of "State of the State Season" so we excerpt the early half (we'll do another round in March). Here, we divide excerpt headlines into "left" and "right" on key issues -- look for the party outliers in Republicans on the left or Democrats on the right -- it DOES happen!
Excerpts from state legislator voting records for new members of Congress
We begin our coverage of newly-elected members of the House of Representatives with state voting records. These newly-seated federal legislators all previously served in their state legislatures. We gather up significant votes and present a selection here, with links to other state votes too.
Annual Presidential message to a Joint Session of Congress
Pres. Biden's State of the Union address plus several responses from several Republican factions. Of note: President Biden's speech is excerpted from his "prepared remarks" but the most interesting moments were when Biden interacted with GOP members of Congress.
"Ricketts is bringing the Senate back to its 'full 100-person strength,' said Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who welcomed Ricketts on the Senate floor after he was sworn into office by Vice President Kamala Harris. McConnell said the wealthy investor has 'applied private sector savvy to the work of public administration with great effect.'
"The Republican is joining the Senate as Democrats navigate a 51-49 majority, having gained one seat in last year's election and with newly-Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema accepting committee assignments from Democrats. Ricketts replaces Sasse, who took a job as the president of the University of Florida two years into his second term.
"Ricketts was appointed by his successor and political ally, Republican Gov. Jim Pillen, and will have to run in a special election in 2024 to fill out the rest of Sasse's term. If he wins, he would then run again in 2026 for a full six-year term.
"Sasse was a fiercely independent Republican senator who often kept to himself and was a harsh critic of former President Donald Trump, especially after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection. Sasse was one of seven Republicans who voted to impeach the president shortly afterward, and Trump frequently lashed out at him.
"Ricketts also has a complicated relationship with the former president, who has criticized him and his family for supporting Republican candidates who he opposed, including Pillen. Trump backed one of Pillen's primary opponents, Charles W. Herbster.
"Nominating Ricketts earlier this month, after Sasse's departure, Pillen said that 111 people applied for the vacant seat and nine Republicans were interviewed. He said he chose Ricketts based on their shared conservatism and Ricketts' promise that he would later run to be elected to the seat. 'I don't believe in placeholders,' Pillen said. 'Placeholders don't have any accountability to the people.' "
Full results trickling in until Nov. 12 at the earliest!
The United States House of Representatives chooses its own leadership via internal votes.
Generally, leadership positions are filled by each party caucus (Republicans choose their leadership, and Democrats do so separately).
Then the Speaker of the House, a Constitutional position, is elected by the House membership as a whole.
The Speaker vote this year took many ballots over several days -- but here are the results...
Who were the worst candidates on the issues in 2022?
OnTheissues.org gives out "IFFY Awards" for the most issue-free campaigns in each election cycle.
The winners should be ashamed of themselves for hiding their issues stances from voters -- but since IFFY candidates have shown no shame, we will shame them here....
Republican nominee for New York Senate Joe Pinion:
The lack of an "issues page" on Pinion's campaign website is the foremost characteristic of an iffy candidate. Pinion had little news coverage nor any other coverage either, since he was a "sacrificial lamb" in blue-state New York (i.e. the Republicans wanted to run SOMEone!). His campaign theme was basically "Vote for me because I'm not Chuck Schumer". We thought early in 2022 he was a very interesting candidate -- pro-business but rated 0% by the NRA -- now we think the NRA just couldn't find any gun issue stances.
Republican nominee for Maryland Senate Chris Chaffee: No excuse of being a "sacrificial lamb" here -- Maryland has a Republican Governor! Chaffee had no website at all, so we pieced together some issue stances from his Facebook and Twitter feeds, but those sources are so brief as to exclude thoughtfulness on the issues (which is why iffy candidates use them exclusively!)
Two new House members share the shame of issue-free IFFY status: Colorado Democratic Representative-Elect Yadira Caraveo and Florida Republican Representative-Elect Aaron Bean. Both of these candidates served in their state legislatures -- see CO State Senate votes and FL State Rep votes -- which means we can look up their votes (and we did, and will report them shortly). But they didn't tell their constituents about their voting records -- and normal voters have no means to look them up. It's tragic that some candidates feel they have to hide who they are, from their voters -- these two hid everything they could, and won anyway. Bean ran a TV ad where he listed all the problems he sees -- he's a professional auctioneer who can enunciate a lot in "Twenty Seconds"! -- but that sort of "listing the issues" is an old iffy trick to say "here's what the issues ARE without my having to say what I would actually DO."
Independent Texas Governor candidate Deirdre Gilbert: Ms. Gilbert was disqualified from the Democratic ballot so she ran as an independent -- which is exactly the sort of candidate that OnTheIssues was invented for! But she turned down our issues quiz, and evidently turned down all other press inquiries as well. Her website is a "word salad" -- a series of complaints in summary terms without context or answers -- resulting in one of the most iffy candidacies of 2022.
Special mention to New York Republican Representative-Elect George Santos: we THINK we covered Santos in a non-iffy manner -- he was clear about his issue stances -- but he has been accused of lying about everything from his religion ("Jew-ISH", whatever that means) to just about every aspect of his professional resume. He's a second-time candidate and we don't think he "embellished" so much in 2020, so we trust older issue stances more than the ones currently under multiple investigations.
Source: See additional 2023 House coverage for newly-elected House members (some still pending as of January -- check back next week!).
Warnock wins Georgia Senate Runoff: Dec. 6, 2022
Democrats increase majority to 51-49
Democrat Raphael Warnock beat Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia's runoff election.
A runoff was held because no candidate got a majority on November 6.
Prior to this election, Democrats held a majority in the Senate 50-49 -- so did the results really matter to the rest of the country? Yes, for two reasons....
Avoiding 50-50 ties: In 2021-2022, the Senate was tied, 50 Democrats to 50 Republicans. If a vote resulted in a tie, Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris gets to vote, so the Democrats win 51-50. If the Georgia Republican had won, this situation would occur again, so why did the pundits care so much about Georgia? Because ALL 50 Democrats had to agree to get to 50-50! That gave a lot of power to the most conservative Democrats, usually West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema. With a 51-49 Senate, Democrats can lose one vote and still win with a 50-50 tie.
Committee Majorities: Most legislative work is done in committees, including writing legislation and deciding which legislation gets a vote on the Senate floor. Senate committees in 2021-2022 are split 50-50, just like the partisan balance of the Senate as a whole -- and there's no vice-presidential tie-breaker in committee votes! For example, the Senate Environment Committee has 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans -- with a Democratic Chair but an equal number of Republicans. In contrast, the House Environment Committee has 28 Democrats outnumbering 23 Republicans. In 2023, every Senate committee will seat a majority of Democrats, instead of an even number of Republicans -- a majority instead of a tie.
Full results trickling in until Nov. 12 at the earliest!
Update Nov. 24: Alaska finally reported their Instant Runoff results, and there are a only a few House races left to decide, plus the Georgia runoff on Dec. 6, but here's the "final" big picture, including how OnTheIssues predictions held up....
Senate: The Democrats will maintain a slim majority. OnTheIssues predicted a thin Democratic Senate majority of 2 seats but the actual result will be either a one-seat Democratic majority, or a 50-50 tie with the Democratic Vice President as the tiebreaker. The Senate is 50R-to-50D with only the Georgia runoff still undecided.
Election Deniers: OnTheIssues predicted no 2020 election deniers would win office, and this prediction held true, with zero wins based on an anti-democracy message in any Senate or Gubernatorial races (and in only a few statewide races like Secretary of State).
Republicans gain 10 to 20 seats and gain House majority
The 117th Congress (the U.S. House of Representatives from January 2021 until January 2023) had 15 special House elections. Following are the old and new members of Congress, with party affiliation marked. We list these as indicative of the electoral chances for the two parties in the November 8th election.
Unlike Senators and Governors, every member of the House is up for re-election on November 8th. Currently the House partisan balance stands at 220 Democrats to 212 Republicans, with 3 vacancies to be filled on Nov. 8. Traditionally, the party in power loses House seats in the midterm election, and this year looks no different.
OnTheIssues predicts a net gain of 10 to 20 seats for Republicans, resulting in a House partisan balance of about 227 Republicans to 208 Democrats. That means the Republicans would have a House majority, and hence would appoint Chairs of all House committees, and decide which bills come up for votes, and which pass the House.
We predict the Senate will remain a Democratic majority -- hence the two chambers will be "split", creating a challenge for passing any legislation. The traditional method to deal with a split Congress is to pass "bipartisan legislation" which both parties agree to -- that means the 118th Congress will be more moderate than the 117th Congress.
Source: See additional 2022 House coverage. (Color code: yellow=OnTheIssues-predicted party switch; pink=pundit-predicted party switch).
Governor Election prediction: Oct. 20, 2022
Democrats win 18; Republican win 18; all election deniers lose
OnTheIssues predicts 36 Gubernatoral races split 18 Democrat and 18 Republican victories (Democratic net gain of 2 seats)
The yellow-highlighted states are where we predict the Governor seat switches party.
But there's no "party balance" among the nation's 50 governors, like there is among the 100 Senators, since governors are all independent of each other.
What DOES matter is the implications for future elections, if an "election denier" is elected governor.
A governor who disbelieves in electoral democracy means a chaotic and potentially violent 2024 election.
We predict that zero election deniers will be elected governor, because their denial turns off so many voters from voting, including their supporters who share their election denial beliefs.
In other words, election deniers hurt their own electoral chances, by claiming falsely that votes don't count.
The pundits perform their polls, and in some cases predict a party turnover where we don't (highlighted in pink).
The election deniers for governor include Kari Lake (AZ), Derek Schmidt (KS), Tudor Dixon (MI), Doug Mastriano (PA), and Tim Michels (WI) -- all of whom the pundits say have a chance to win -- but we don't believe those polls!
Ron DeSantis (FL) has flirted with election denial, but has not crossed the line -- so we believe the polls that he will win.
Many of those pundits predict victories for election deniers -- but we think their polls are wrong, because the election denial candidates "shoot themselves in the foot".
The left half are states in which we predict Democratic winners (18).
(Nov. 8 winners marked in left column for correct predictions and right column for incorrect)
The right half are states in which we predict Republican winners (18).
(Nov. 8 winners marked in left column for correct predictions and right column for incorrect)
With exactly one month to go before the election, OnTheIssues predicts a Senate split 52D-48R (Democratic net gain of 2 seats)
The yellow-highlighted states are where we predict the Senate seat switches party. (Pink highlights are "possible upsets according to pundits").
Since the Republicans started with more seats up for re-election this year, we're predicting that the Democrats will gain seats in the Senate, by taking over some seats currently held by Republicans.
Party take-overs are notoriously difficult to predict, and we predict 6 takeovers -- 2 to the Republicans and 4 to the Democrats.
It's likely that we'll only predict correctly half of those with yellow highlights -- but even in that case, the Dems will still control the Senate 51-49 or 50-50 (with Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker like she is now).
Six months ago, all the pundits predicted a Republican takeover of the Senate (a net loss of at least 1 Democratic seat).
The pundits are currently in a dither because they see that their early prognositication is clearly incorrect -- we don't see any net loss for the Democrats as even a remote possibility.
We'll predict the House next week, where we'll predict a Republican takeover for sure....
The left side are states in which we predict Democratic winners (16).
The right side are states in which we predict Republican winners (19).