The 2022 midterms show that American politics changed
On November 8th, U.S voters participated in the midterm elections. On election night there were 36 state governorships up for grabs, 3 US territory governorships, 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and 36 seats in the Senate. As of November 19th, the senate majority is currently held by Democrats (50-49). The remaining Georgia seat will have a special election in December. However, the House of Representatives will be majority Republican (218-211.)
Going into the midterms, there was clear momentum. A study from the Pew Research Center stated that two thirds of registered voters said the election “really mattered.” The money put into these elections also reflects this sentiment. According to Open Secrets, the total cost of state and federal midterm elections was projected to be over $16.7 billion. In 2018, it was only $5.7 billion.
This year, the issues that Americans were most concerned about according to Pew Research Center were the economy, the future of American democracy, education, healthcare, energy policy, violent crime, gun policy, and abortion. Pew Research’s analysis further stated that, in the 2018 Midterm 66% of Democrats viewed the economy as an important issue in comparison to 85% of republicans. In 2022, the numbers look different. 65% of Democrats view the economy as an important issue relative to 92% of Republicans. This illustrates that the different parties don’t just look at how to solve problems differently; they now believe that there are entirely different problems that must be solved.
The reality of those represented in politics has also shifted. According to the New York Times, in 2022, there were 33 members of the LGBTQ+ community who ran for office, nearly twice as many as there were in 2018. There were also 25 women nominated for governor, which sets a record. Furthermore, Maura Healey’s victory in Massachusetts made history as the first openly lesbian governor in the country. In addition, there were 11 senate candidates who are Black, the same number as all African-American Senators in U.S history. This diversity trend continues in the House with a win in Florida’s 10th Congressional District by Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a 25-year-old Afro-Cuban Democrat, the first member of Gen-Z in Congress.
The method used to vote has also changed. According to the 2022 General Election Early Voting Statistics, about 45 million people voted early. In Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Michigan, 54% of these people were women in comparison to 44.6% of men. According to the New York Times, on average, in the month after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, 55% of newly registered voters were women, this is up from just under 50% and can be attributed to the overturn of Roe vs. Wade.
Voting by mail, especially early voting, has become more common since the pandemic. Michigan represents this. There were 1,765,000 mail-in ballots sent in by November 4th. In 2018, this number was just 641,800. Based on the results in 2020, where 45% of youth voters voted by mail, it is safe to assume that this trend continued. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, voting by mail was made to be a greater challenge in the midterms, 10 new restrictive laws have been implemented since 2020. Some experts attribute this to the myth of the “stolen” election in 2020 which increased fear of fraudulent mail-in ballots.
The historic precedent in midterm elections is that the president’s party tends to lose power in Congress. Surprisingly, the supposed “red wave” that would give Congress to Republicans did not reflect reality, even when polling suggested it was imminent. After all, this change of power occurred in 1994, 2006, 2010, and 2018. However, based on the most recent events in American politics, it makes sense that this election would be different from the ones before it. During the 2018 midterms, Roe vs. Wade, the decision that protected abortions rights, hadn’t been overturned by the Supreme Court. The COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t occurred, and there hadn’t been a widespread attempt to overturn a presidential election that included an insurrection in the capitol.
The circumstances before Election Day were unique, we are divided in our values and the issues that we care about. the people who we have voted for are more diverse, the way we vote has changed, so the outcome wasn’t what was predicted. Politics in America looks different, and this election reflects that.