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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Republicans are relishing the prospect of regaining their congressional majorities next November after Tuesday's election results.

Why it matters: While Democrats haggle over whether to recalibrate their midterm strategy following a loss in Virginia and close call in New Jersey, Republicans see the outcome as validation of their approach the past year. They have no plans to change course.

Between the lines: The entire Republican ecosystem has been hitting the same five issues since the start of 2021.

  1. Inflation/the rising cost of living.
  2. Immigration/border security.
  3. Crime/calls to defund the police.
  4. President Biden's handling of Afghanistan.
  5. Teachers' unions/ school mask mandates.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also have continued to perpetuate and celebrate chaos in the Democratic agenda.

Now, they're benefiting politically from their institutional lack of cooperation.

  • In the House, McCarthy has refused to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee and whipped against the bipartisan infrastructure bill — which gained 19 Republican votes in the Senate.
  • In the Senate, McConnell has allowed his members to block Biden's ambassadors, refuse to act on the debt ceiling and turned oversight hearings into 2024 tryouts.

What to watch: The National Republican Congressional Committee said Tuesday's elections breathed new life into certain districts in play.

  • They include those of Democratic Reps. Jennifer Wexton (Va.-10), Ed Perlmutter (Colo.-7), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.-5), Tom Malinowski (N.J.-7), Andy Kim (N.J.-3), Elaine Luria (Va.-2) and Abigail Spanberger (Va.-7).
  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee is still focused on targeting Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).

What we're hearing: The Republicans' House and Senate campaign arms tell Axios their plan moving forward is to essentially do nothing.

  • They don't plan to reallocate resources or test new messaging.
  • "This is the path to win in terms of holding on to the white, working-class voters that we've picked up in the last few cycles, continuing to gain Hispanic voters and winning back some of the suburban voters that we've lost," said NRSC spokesman Chris Hartline.
  • "I don't think Virginia is unique. I know people are trying to say, 'Oh, [Terry] McAuliffe’s just a candidate.' We’re not buying it," a spokesman for the NRCC said. "Voters want the opposite of what's happened so far."

What they're saying: McCarthy told reporters he's hoping for a repeat of 2010, and predicts Democrats could lose more than 63 seats in 2022 — the same number lost during the first midterms of the Obama administration.

  • “I don’t see them opening their ears to this; I see them doubling down. To me, that’s a good problem,” McCarthy during a jubilant weekly House Republican news conference.
  • His message to Democrats who continue to dismiss McAuliffe's loss in Virginia as an anomaly: “I say, happy retirement.”

The Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman had a similar assessment.

  • "Needless to say, [Tuesday's] results are consistent with a political environment in which Republicans would comfortably take back both the House and Senate in 2022," he tweeted.

Go deeper

Nov 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Centrist Dems sink Biden’s nominee for top bank regulator

Saule Omarova listens during her confirmation hearing. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Five Democratic senators have told the White House they won't support Saule Omarova to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, effectively killing her nomination for the powerful bank-regulator position.

Why it matters: The defiant opposition from a broad coalition of senators reflects the real policy concerns they had with Omarova, a Cornell University law professor who's attracted controversy for her academic writings about hemming in big banks.

Updated 11 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 13 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.