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Midterms: DeSantis boosts 2024 credentials; Kemp defeats Abrams; Dems flip Senate seat

Desantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, flanked by and his wife, Casey DeSantis, speaks to supporters during an election night watch party at the Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, on Nov. 8, 2022. - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been tipped as a possible 2024 presidential candidate, was projected as one of the early winners of the night in Tuesday's midterm election. (Photo by Giorgio VIERA / AFP) (Photo by GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images) |

Republican incumbent governors secured major victories Tuesday night, including a strong performance from a potential 2024 presidential hopeful, while Democrats made it more challenging for Republicans to take control of the U.S. Senate but could still lose control of the House of Representatives. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis strengthened his 2024 presidential prospects with a nearly 20-percentage-point victory over Democrat former Congressman Charlie Crist in a state that former President Donald Trump won the state by less than 4 points in 2020. 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp soundly defeated his Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams in a closely watched rematch, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott defeated former presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke.

While much of the country still tabulates results from Tuesday's election, nearly all of the vote in Florida has been counted. The unofficial results with 99% of the voter reporting show DeSantis, widely viewed as a contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, winning 59.4% of the vote to Crist's 39.9%.

DeSantis won several of the large urban counties in the state with populations of more than 1 million residents that generally vote Democratic in statewide elections, including the state's most populous county of Miami-Dade County.

Additionally, DeSantis won the heavily populated county of Hillsborough County, home to Tampa, as well as Palm Beach County.

The solid Republican performance extended to the other marquee statewide race in Florida, including the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic challenger Val Demings. Rubio won a third term in the Senate by a 16-point margin, once again winning the heavily populated counties of Hillsborough, Miami Dade and Palm Beach.

In both the gubernatorial and Senate races in Florida, Republicans outperformed expectations. The final RealClear Politics average of polls measuring voters' intentions in the gubernatorial race gave DeSantis a 12.2-point lead while the final RealClearPolitics average of Senate polls predicted Rubio would win by 8.8 points.

Republicans also performed well in U.S. House races in Florida, winning 20 of the state's 28 congressional districts. Going into the election, Republicans held 16 of the 27 seats, meaning the party picked up four seats in Florida alone. Republicans need a net gain of five seats to reclaim the House majority.

In a rematch with his 2018 opponent, unofficial results show Georgia's Republican Gov. Kemp won more than 50% of the vote in his bid for a second term. With 98% of the vote reporting, Kemp has captured 53.5% of the vote to Abrams' 45.8%, crossing the 50% threshold required to avoid a runoff election.

The results of Georgia's U.S. Senate race, which could determine which party holds the majority for the next two years, remain too close to call and could be headed to a runoff if neither major party candidate receives 50% of the vote.

With 97% of the vote reporting, Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock secured 49.4% of the vote, while Republican challenger Herschel Walker accumulated 48.6% of the vote.

In Texas, Republican Abbott beat 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful O'Rourke and secured a third term as the leader of the nation's second-largest state.

Unofficial results show Abbott leading O'Rourke by a margin of more than 12 percentage points, with 77% of the vote reporting. Unlike Florida and Georgia, Texas did not have a U.S. Senate seat on the ballot this year.

Other Republican politicians with large national profiles won their first bids for political office.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as White House press secretary during part of the Trump administration, was elected the governor of Arkansas. J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, won the open Senate seat in Ohio.

While Republicans enjoyed significant victories in the heavily populated sunbelt states and overwhelmingly red states where they routinely win presidential elections by double digits, Democrats may walk away from the 2022 elections with more governorships.

In Maryland, Democrat Wes Moore won the governorship currently held by term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, becoming the first African American governor in the state's history. Unofficial results show Moore winning by a margin of more than 20 points.

In Massachusetts, Democrat Maura Healey won the governorship currently held by retiring Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, becoming the first openly lesbian governor in U.S. history. Unofficial results show Healey winning by nearly 30 points in the overwhelmingly Democratic state. The Democrats' two victories in Maryland and Massachusetts mean that the party currently enjoys a gain of two governorships, although that number could shrink if Republicans win one or more governorships presently held by a Democrat.

The question of what party will control the U.S. Congress for the next two years remains blurry as of early Wednesday morning, more than seven hours after the first polls closed.

With results still pending in several states, Democrats will hold at least 48 Senate seats in the 118th U.S. Congress, while Republicans will control at least 47 seats. The remaining five races are too close to call, although Republicans are expected to hold the seat in Alaska. 

In addition to holding their seat in Florida and Ohio, Republicans won the Senate seat in the battleground state of North Carolina.

Democrat John Fetterman won the Republican-held Senate seat in Pennsylvania, meaning that Republicans will have to flip at least two Democrat-held Senate seats to gain the majority, given the current 50-50 split in the chamber.

Incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., held onto her seat, which Republicans hoped to flip. A Republican victory in the U.S. Senate will require the party to hold the Republican-held seat in Wisconsin and flip at least two of the three Democrat-held seats in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada. 

In the U.S. House, Republicans have won 193 seats while Democrats have secured 166 seats. A party needs to win 218 seats to gain control of the chamber. The New York Times currently gives Republicans an 83% chance of controlling the U.S. House based on the votes that have been counted so far and the ballots outstanding.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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