November marks election season in the U.S., leading to many conversations about the direction in which the country is going. The 2022 midterm elections were noticeably different to previous elections, marked by issues such as surges of voter intimidation. The election was also the first federal election since the raid of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, and the anxiety felt by people in the nation and both political parties were reflected throughout the election. The Republican party aimed to take back the House and the Senate, which have been under Democratic control for the first two years of President Joe Biden’s administration, while the Democratic party wants to retain their control. Having the majority has made it easier for the Democratic Party to pass bills in line with Biden’s agenda.
One issue that resurfaced during the election cycle is voter intimidation. One town that was reported to have some of the worst incidents was Mesa, Arizona, according to The Guardian. Individuals hoping to intimidate voters out of submitting ballots staked out outdoor ballot boxes, taking videos and photos of voters using these facilities. Some wore tactical gear to hide from the crowds, while others were not so subtle, openly armed with weapons. Both voters and poll workers reported that they were non-consensually photographed and videotaped, which made them feel threatened. Other voters reported being followed after dropping off their ballots. Katie Hobbes, Arizona’s Secretary of State, herself along with many others received death threats, which caused a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on November 1 to limit activities of those hoping to intimidate voters.
The January 6 riots, which resulted due to allegations of voter fraud that led some politicians to question the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, have only caused elections to become more polarizing for both parties. One of the most significant conflicts of this cycle was seen between now-reelected Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump. Politico reports that Trump publicly spoke out against DeSantis, his former friend and colleague. Trump even went as far as to take credit for DeSantis’ success after he endorsed him in 2018. DeSantis is largely expected after winning the governor race to have ambitions to be the next Republican president, and experts believe that this threat is fueling much of Trump’s criticisms.
Seeing Trump now speaking so negatively of a candidate that he once endorsed caught the public by surprise, especially considering that all of Trump’s endorsements underperformed at the ballot except DeSantis. Fox News recently claimed that Ron DeSantis is the future of the Republican Party, which has seemingly annoyed Trump, who is expected to soon announced that he will be running for the 2024 presidential election. President Biden also announced that he has intentions to run for reelection in 2024, commented that it would be interesting to watch the GOP race between Trump and DeSantis, according to Politico.
The 2022 election was also notable for a high voter turnout for young people, along with increased diversity in candidates for both the Republican and Democratic parties. According to The Washington Post the large Hispanic demographic in Texas could potentially send three Texan-Latinas to Congress. There were 33 Republican Latinos and 30 Black Republicans on the ballot throughout the nation. Two of these candidates are projected to win the seat in their respective states, which will double the number of Black Republicans from two to four. There are also 13 Republican candidates of Asian descent and 80 Republican women. This is an increase in diversity from the Republicans, showing that women and people of color are increasing involvement in politics.
The Hill also reports that this election saw the second-largest voter turnout in the last 30 years for a midterm election. 27 percent of the reported voters were in the age range of 18-29. Battleground states reported even a higher number of young voters, hitting 31 percent, with the majority of young voters choosing Democratic candidates. It shows that Gen Z votes for more Democratic candidates which created a tighter race when it comes to which party has the majority at the end of the day.
Image Courtesy of Ted Eytan, The Wellesley News