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UCLA community members consider potential implications of 2022 midterm elections

Kamala Harris speaks at a Get Out the Vote rally. The 2022 midterm elections saw mixed results, with some gains for Republicans while Democrats also overperformed expectations. (Anika Chakrabarti/Photo editor)

By Mallory Cooper and Shaanth Kodialam

Nov. 20, 2022 2:57 p.m.

UCLA community members expressed uncertainty about the balance of political power within Congress following the results of the 2022 midterm elections.

Midterm results have aligned more closely than expected with the party of the current president despite the Biden administration facing low approval ratings and high inflation, according to CNBC. Many students and faculty members were left anticipating the effects of a divided government after Democrats maintained control of the Senate while Republicans won control of the House of Representatives.

Although Democrats overperformed expectations, this year’s midterm elections were typical in the sense that Democrats – the current party in power – lost seats in the House of Representatives, said Chris Tausanovitch, a professor of political science. However, he said many Republican candidates on the ballot denied the results of the 2020 presidential election, which is atypical from previous election cycles.

“When a party does not do as well as expected, it’s often the sort of more extreme and more long shot candidates that don’t do well,” he said. “I think it’s hard to conclude that it was election denial per se, or Trump’s endorsement per se, that hurt candidates.”

Some polling prior to the election suggested economic concerns such as inflation were influencing voters. But Tausanovitch said there are unclear indicators about whether the economy is doing well right now, adding that issues such as abortion in the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade may have also affected the midterms’ outcome.

Leroy Betterton Gage, a second-year linguistics and computer science student and the Bruin Democrats’ policy director, said he was not sure how to feel as he watched initial midterm election results start to come in, adding that fluctuations and small lead margins in key races challenged his predictions about which party would control power.

Betterton Gage said he believes a split Congress could prevent legislation from being passed by either party and stall priority legislation for the Democrats, such as abortion protections and environmental protection measures.

This year’s midterms also saw historic wins for many underrepresented communities. Anika Roche, a first-year pre-political science student, said she was pleased to see the election of Massachusetts’s first openly lesbian governor, Maura Healey. Roche added she hopes these victories could help give female candidates a better chance running for the presidency in 2024.

Generation Z also played a significant role in determining the midterm elections’ results, voting on issues such as abortion access. According to NPR, more Americans under 25 registered to vote in midterms this year than in any year since 2018.

Roche said she believes this spike in Gen-Z voter participation gave Democrats an edge in many critical elections. Roche added that Gen-Z voters should exercise their right to vote because many laws impact young Americans the most.

Tausanovitch added that more bipartisan legislation might have to be passed now that a divided government is in place.

“They’re going to have to focus on issues that aren’t so divided across parties, and that’s going to look more modest,” he said. “It’s not going to look like the big ticket legislation we’ve seen over the past two years.”

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Mallory Cooper
Shaanth Kodialam | Features and student life editor
Kodialam is the 2022-2023 features and student life editor. They were previously a News reporter for national news and higher education and features and student life. They are a second-year communication and geography student.
Kodialam is the 2022-2023 features and student life editor. They were previously a News reporter for national news and higher education and features and student life. They are a second-year communication and geography student.
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