The midterm elections are said to be a referendum on the success, or otherwise, of the sitting president and his first two years in the White House.
President Joe Biden’s approval rating is underwater, inflation is soaring and he makes a gaffe almost every time he opens his mouth, so the success of Democrat candidates makes no sense when applying normal rules.
It doesn’t make sense that five days after the election Democrats have retained the Senate and have a chance, albeit slim, of keeping the House of Representatives.
But this was no ordinary election.
One way to explain it is by viewing it, instead, as a referendum on the extreme, right-wing politics of the “Make America Great Again” candidates who were recruited, in some cases, and endorsed by the former former president Donald Trump.
Take Adam Laxalt, the Republican defeated in the decisive Senate race in Nevada, a fully paid-up member of the election denial lie peddled by Trump.
There was “no mathematical way” he could lose, said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, perhaps forgetting to factor a discerning electorate into his equation.
Across the country and up and down the ballot – with a few, but not many, exceptions – voters delivered a rebuke to Trumpism.
From Mehmet Oz, a celebrity TV doctor beaten in Pennsylvania, to anti-abortionist Yesli Vega beaten in a key race in Virginia, it was not the red wave the Republican Party was expecting.
Perhaps it has also been a referendum on abortion rights.
In the spring, a decision taken by the conservative majority Supreme Court to revoke the constitutional right to choose abortion changed the complexion of this campaign season.
With a tide of Republican lawmakers banning or severely restricting abortion access, Democrats saw their ratings rise in the polls and took a calculated gamble to focus their energy and advertising dollar for the midterms on abortion.
We don’t yet have a complete picture of which voters were instrumental in swinging certain key races, but the research centre Civic Youth estimates that 31% of young people voted in battleground states.
In Nevada, the state which ultimately handed Senate control to the Democrats, Civic Youth said 64% of young voters sided with the winner, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto.
It was also telling that voters in Pennsylvania indicated that abortion was the issue which mattered most to them when they cast their ballot and nationally it was the second most vital issue, outstripped only by inflation.
It seems that on abortion rights, Republicans were out of touch with the people and the furious political energy whipped up by the Supreme Court decision.
But if President Biden is feeling exultant this evening, there could be a reality check in the coming days, as it is still highly probable that the Republicans will take the House of Representatives once the votes have, finally, been totted up.
That means he may still be thwarted by political stalemate and legislative roadblocks.
The House can also launch inquiries into President Biden’s conduct in office and also the financial dealings of his son, Hunter Biden, which they are likely to do.