An 88-Year First: Democrats Defend All Their Senate Seats While Holding White House

With Raphael Warnock's win, Joe Biden did something we have not seen since FDR.

When he ran for president, Joe Biden touted the need for an “FDR-size presidency” as the nation recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, a prospect he followed through on with the massive American Rescue Plan.

But after Tuesday’s midterms elections, Biden shares another distinction with Franklin Delano Roosevelt: being the first president during a midterm where no members of the president’s party lost a Senate race in the fall.

With the Sen. Raphael Warnock’s victory in Georgia Tuesday night, Senate Democratic incumbents went a perfect 14-0 in the midterms. That’s the best performance for them, or a president of any party, since 1934, two years into Roosevelt’s first of four presidential terms. (Two Democratic incumbents lost their primaries in 1934 but even those seats remained in Democratic hands.)

And with the flip of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat in Pennsylvania because of John Fetterman’s win, Democrats even gained a seat, bringing them to 51 in the upcoming 118th Congress. That marked the first time since 1962 and John F. Kennedy’s midterm election that a Democratic president saw a gain of seats for his party in the Senate.

No Republican incumbent Senators lost either, which in itself is not as rare of a feat ― parties that are out of power tend to do well in midterms. But combined with the Democratic holds, it marks the first time since the direct election of senators began that no incumbent senator of any party lost.

Invigorated by the wins and speaking to reporters at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) crowed about the accomplishment.

“Why’d that happen? Well, first, because we had great candidates, not just Raphael Warnock,” Schumer said. “Their strength and their vitality was just incredible.”

On Twitter, historian Michael Beschloss called it “the strongest first-term midterm Congressional showing of any President in eighty-eight years,” aside from the 1962 midterm and 2002, when Republicans gained seats in the Senate after the Sept. 11 terror attacks with George W. Bush in the White House.

And one exultant Tweet just featured a picture of Schumer by himself, leaning against a column, captioned, “Chuck Schumer taking a photo with all the senate dems that lost.”

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