Axios Journalists Preview the Midterm Elections at Federal and State Levels at Meridian

His Excellency Mohammed Al-Hadhrami (Ambassador of Yemen) posing a question to the Axios panelists at an Insights program at Meridian on September 8, 2022. Photo by Jess Latos.

With a number of decisive issues on the ballot, as well as concerns about the legitimacy and integrity of elections, the upcoming midterm elections are shaping up to be monumentally important for the future of the United States. Now more than ever, news outlets like Axios have become a vital hub of information ahead of the midterm elections when distrust in media is on the rise.

Political Reporter Alexi McCammond, National Political Reporter Hans Nichols, and Chief Congressional Correspondent Alayna Treene from Axios participated in an Insights@Meridian moderated by World News Editor Dave Lawler, to discuss pressing topics surrounding the 2022 midterm elections.

Here are some of the top takeaways:

  1. Trends and Polls are Ever Changing – Follow the Money

“Don’t look at polls after Labor Day,” remarked Hans Nichols while addressing the popularity of a party or candidate in races. Recent court decisions, rapid legislation, and increasing voter registration continue to turn tides when it comes to polls, with both Republicans and Democrats constantly competing for voter approval. Campaigns are increasing their efforts to address key concerns with their platforms and are taking different strategies to do so. Democrats don’t want to risk incumbents by flighting for reach states like Georgia and Arizona, while Republicans are focusing on reach states like Colorado and Oregon. Funding, or the lack of, better reveals the goals for each party. Parties anticipate more success where the money flows.

  1. Legislative Progress and Voter Turnout

Voters are driven to the polls by decisions on key legislation including inflation, abortion, and gun control. Before the summer, Biden’s approval rating was at its lowest, making many in his party wary of their chances during the midterms. After passing a series of bills, such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act gun safety bill, the President’s approval skyrocketed, as well as that of the Democratic party. Key issues have spurred new voter registration particularly among women after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The correlation reveals that voters are inclined to become more politically active as legislation in favor of their interests passes.

  1. Getting Voters to the Polls

Voters are motivated by emotion regardless of the party. Biden Administration officials and Democratic party supporters will be blanketing their networks over the next month on recent successes, but this will likely have limited impact on voters. Meanwhile, former President Trump’s endorsements can make or break a candidate’s possibilities to win a Republican primary race, however there is uncertainty if his endorsement can manage to bring a candidate across the finish line in November.

  1. Local and State Elections Take Center Stage

With gridlock in Washington, the importance of elections at the state and local level is growing. Campaigns are putting in the effort to educate and inform the public of their respective elections. More than ever, Democrats are focused on gubernational elections, and Republicans are fighting to maintain their control over state legislatures. Republicans gained nearly 1,000 seats in state legislatures during the Obama Administration and control more legislatures than ever before.

  1. What Happens Next?

It is safe to say that this election is up in the air, but there are some predictions. Alayne Treene predicts a Republican majority in the house which will be “hell for Joe Biden.” If Republicans take control in the House or Senate, they will make it difficult for Biden and the rest of the party to pursue their agenda before 2024. Oversight is going to be a challenge, with possible investigations into the Afghanistan withdrawal, the handling of COVID-19 and Dr. Fauci, and Hunter Biden. There are bipartisan concerns including the national stance on China, cost of living, and supply chains. If Republicans win big this midterm, the grid lock will increase to a point where basic pieces of legislation such as defense spending and debt ceilings will be difficult to pass.

BONUS: Beware of the October Surprise

Just ahead of elections, political parties and candidates often release game-changing events or stories to drive voters to their sides by damaging their opponent’s chances. Everything can change in a heartbeat. Read more about the history of October surprises here.

Additional resources:

States collaborate to best defend the nation against cyber threats in 2020 | Meridian International Center

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