Managing Director, Advocacy & Political Affairs
photo credit: AFBF Photo/Morgan Walker
Through a series of articles we call The State, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Advocacy and Political Affairs team provides analysis related to "the state of" various aspects related to advocacy and political trends impacting farmers and ranchers and rural Americans.
State of: The Issues and Outcomes of 2022
With Election Day 2022 fast approaching and all the candidate events and campaign activities leading up to it, voters will have numerous opportunities to vet their choices and cast their vote.
Voting started in many states over the past few weeks. Data from election officials indicates early voting is about equal to early voting in the 2018 midterm elections, the highest midterm turnout in recent history.
With the outcome to be decided by the voters, many of us are looking at polling and testimonials from the campaign trail as we consider the possible results. A key political maxim says most voters’ choices are based on how candidates view the issues that impact their daily lives, primarily pocketbook issues, and not purely political positions.
Since this spring, Republican candidates have been focused on messaging around inflation and the economy, key issues for voters, according to polls. Still, the issues for this election have expanded beyond inflation and the economy following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which ended the constitutional right to abortion and returned the issue to the states.
According to Morning Consult, the economy is the electorate’s most important issue this year (78%), followed by several issues with mixed implications. Roughly half of voters say gun policy, immigration and abortion are “very” important. The issue of public safety, while not listed in this survey, is a key issue for many voters throughout many states and districts.
President Biden and Democratic candidates continue to make a woman’s right to end a pregnancy a priority issue, with Biden saying restoring abortion rights will be the first legislation he sends to Congress in 2023. Democratic enthusiasm for voting in the midterm elections has generally been on the upswing, but surveys conducted throughout the year show that excitement on the left surged after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs case.
According to Axios, Democrats are pouring millions into ads about reproductive rights in the final weeks leading up to the midterms, while Republicans are focused on the economy and inflation. Democrats are depending on reproductive rights as an antidote to President Biden's low popularity and GOP attacks on inflation and the economy. The media blitz began in late June following the Supreme Court decision. Spending has increased steadily ever since.
On the Republican side, the top issues have been the economy, the federal budget and taxes. GOP candidates have also been leaning into ads about public safety and crime in key battleground states.
As voters are casting their ballots in favor of the candidates, they think can best address their key issues, the outcome in the House and Senate are at stake. In the House of Representatives, Republicans need a net gain of five seats for the majority. The 2022 midterm elections will be the first since the 2020 census, with changes to congressional districts, a historic number of retirements and several Democratic incumbents running in Trump-leaning districts.
Congressional redistricting did not harm Democrats as many had thought, minimizing the chance of Republicans having a large sweep in the House. The small number of competitive seats (33 toss-up seats, according to Cook Political Report) means a large swing in majority is unlikely to occur in 2022. The election outlook continues to suggest a small-to-moderate Republican gain in the House. The range of outcomes today suggest a Republican majority between 228 to 235.
As we shift across the Capitol rotunda to the Senate chamber, Senate Republicans need a net gain of one seat for the majority. In the Senate there are 10 states that will likely determine control: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania are getting the most attention and being called “majority makers” for both parties. We must remember that Senate contests are more about candidates than atmosphere or national polling trends. The range of outcomes today are a possible Republican pickup of two seats to a Democratic gain of one.
The big question for the 2022 election is whether the Senate flips to Republican control, albeit by a small majority, or remains in Democratic control (a 50-50 split means Vice President Harris breaks tie).
Despite all the charts, graphs and analysis generated from the most highly regarded of experts, the most we can say about the election is the outcome is always uncertain until the votes are counted. What is certain is Farm Bureau’s commitment to fight for and with America’s farmers and ranchers.