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New analysis of the United States 2022 Midterm elections reveals a 2024 political arena that’s a little less crazy, but still fragile.

Politics and the US Capitol Women's March in Washington DC, USA, 2017

A new report, led by a politics expert from Kingston University in London, examines what the United States midterm election results revealed about the current state of democracy in the United States and the challenges that might lie ahead for both major parties. The Exploring the 2022 US Midterms briefing paper was recently published by the American Politics Group of the Political Studies Association. Academics from institutions across the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Republic of Ireland contributed to it.

Report provides insights into the November 2022 elections

The report acts as a bridge between journalistic coverage of the 2022 midterms and longer-term peer-reviewed academic studies. It is intended to provide insights into the key talking points from the November elections, which saw the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, albeit with a slim majority, while the Democrats defied expectations to retain control of the Senate. It is accompanied by a podcast in which the academics outline some of their findings.

The report examines how voters prioritized issues such as inflation and reproductive rights and provides insights into challenges and opportunities for both parties in the run-up to the 2024 presidential elections. It also assesses the prospects of the next generation of potential presidential candidates, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose strong performance boosted his profile.

Those crazy Republicans

One of the encouraging signs for democracy from the midterms was that candidates who maintained the presidential election was stolen failed to win in several swing seats. According to Dr. Peter Finn, a senior lecturer in politics from Kingston University and co-author of the report,

“Following the threat to democracy America faced in 2021, the 2022 midterms could be seen as a return to some form of normality.”

He added that former President Donald Trump was not on the ballot, and no blanket media coverage was seen during the 2018 midterms.

Climate change? What climate change?

The report highlights how Republicans framed climate change during the Florida debates, which could signal the party’s future direction at a national level. It outlines how Governor DeSantis avoided using the term climate change and only addressed resilience when speaking of hurricanes in the state. The report suggests that DeSantis would be unlikely to prioritize climate mitigation policies, in contrast to the Democrats’ position.

President Kamala Harris?

Moreover, the report considers the prospects of the various likely Democrat runners should President Joe Biden decide not to stand in 2024. They include Vice President Kamala Harris and emerging alternatives, including Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The report also analyzes the performance of moderate Republicans in the northeastern states and finds that they remained competitive, particularly where candidates received support from national Republicans. However, a chapter exploring whether the party was ready to move on from Trump suggested that even if it did, it was likely to coalesce around a candidate from the same wing.

Dr. Finn said,

“It’s probably too early to say we’re at the end of the Trump era. However, Kevin McCarthy’s difficulty getting the votes to become speaker of the House tells us a lot about the power different factions of the Republican party hold. Both chambers are incredibly tight, so whichever side can maintain some form of party discipline during the next two years has the opportunity to either make things happen or block the other’s agenda.”

You can read the complete report below.

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Politics and the US Capitol Women's March in Washington DC, USA, 2017 via Wikimedia Commons by Mobilus in Mobilli with usage type - Creative Commons License. January 21, 2017

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Politics and the US Capitol Women's March in Washington DC, USA, 2017 via Wikimedia Commons by Mobilus in Mobilli with usage type - Creative Commons License. January 21, 2017


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