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Classes from the 2022 Primaries — what do they inform us about America’s political events and the midterm elections?

That is the third in a collection of weblog posts detailing our analysis on all 2360 candidates who ran for Home or Senate within the 2022 primaries. We began coding every candidate by taking a look at their official web site after which we checked out their Fb web page, their tweets, their press interviews, and their votes (within the case of incumbents) with a purpose to decide their stances on the problems of the day. As can be anticipated in a major season that ran six months, from March 1 to September 13 the salience of points modified considerably over time—nonetheless we managed to get sense of what the 2 events’ candidates have been speaking about and maybe, as vital, what they have been not speaking about. We have been additionally in a position to get sense of the divisions between the events and inside the events.

Probably the most talked about points

Congressional primaries are one of many purest methods to see simply how completely different the 2 events are. Of the problems talked about by every social gathering solely abortion and weapons fell into the highest 5 for each events. Democrats additionally talked about well being care, local weather change and electoral integrity, whereas Republicans talked about immigration, taxes and regulation and inflation.


Some points in politics are litmus checks for the events. In 2022 there have been a number of points that met this customary. For instance, abortion and gun management have been points mentioned by a majority of candidates in each events. However virtually no Democrats (13 out of 962) took pro-life positions and virtually no Republicans—(17 out of 1398)—promoted pro-choice positions. On gun management we see an analogous break up, solely 15 Democrats ran as sturdy supporters of the proper to bear arms and the Second Modification and solely 30 Republicans ran as supporters of stronger gun legal guidelines.

The difficulty of election integrity was new to the 2020 congressional primaries, due virtually solely to Donald Trump’s continued insistence that the 2020 elections have been fatally flawed, and it too grew to become a litmus take a look at for every social gathering. Almost each Democrat who talked about reform of elections insisted that reforms have been wanted to make it simpler to vote; whereas almost each Republican who talked about the difficulty talked about reforms being wanted to make it tougher to cheat.

But, many points on this major cycle weren’t litmus take a look at points. As an alternative, they have been talked about extensively by one social gathering, however not the opposite. For Democrats, healthcare remained the highest concern, because it was in 2018 when soon-to-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi credited well being care with restoring the Democratic majority within the Home. Twenty-six p.c of Democratic candidates advocated Medicare-for-all or some kind of single payer system whereas the remaining candidates (36%) favored some type of increasing, reforming, or defending the present well being system together with the Reasonably priced Care Act (ACA). Most Republicans, 77%, merely stayed away from the difficulty however a minority of those that did point out it (9%) persevered in advocating repeal of the ACA.

Local weather change was additionally excessive on the agenda of Democratic candidates however virtually absent from the agendas of Republican candidates. Of the Republicans who did focus on local weather change, (15%) took the intense place that local weather change is a hoax. Of the remaining Republicans who talked about it, most expressed concern for what coping with local weather change may do to the financial system.

Immigration was talked about rather more usually by Republican candidates than by Democratic candidates. The Republican candidates who talked about immigration have been evenly break up. About half needed to construct the wall or end the wall and needed immigrants arrested and deported. The opposite half mentioned, extra usually, that they needed to safe the border. Many of the Democrats who talked about immigration favored some type of complete immigration reform. Only a few (11 or 1%) Democratic candidates favored open borders—an extra indication that the Democratic Occasion is nowhere close to as radical as their opponents would really like them to be.

In step with our findings in earlier years, Republicans spent rather more time discussing taxes and laws than did the Democrats. This concern, in fact, is an oldie however goodie, dividing the 2 events nicely earlier than Trump’s time. Almost each Republican candidate who talked about this concern mentioned, in come what may, that decreasing taxes and eliminating ineffective laws was one of the simplest ways to assist the financial system. Most Democrats didn’t point out the difficulty, however of those that did, almost all (94%) thought that the wealthy wanted to pay their justifiable share of taxes and/or that the federal government ought to defend residents from firms via regulation.

The opposite main financial concern in 2022 was inflation. Not surprisingly, given President Biden’s vulnerability on this concern all through a lot of the major season, solely 17% of Democratic candidates mentioned something about inflation in any respect. Of those that did point out it, almost all believed that inflation would come below management as soon as the president’s agenda was handed.

The least talked about points

There have been a set of points that acquired little or no consideration from candidates in both social gathering however have managed outsized consideration in conventional media and social media.


In 2022, as in earlier years, there have been some points that have been vital in Washington, DC, however which barely registered within the primaries. Essential race concept, which appeared to return out of nowhere to impression the Virginia gubernatorial race in 2021, was largely ignored by Democrats and was criticized, instantly or not directly, by nearly all of Republicans who selected to speak about it.

Content material regulation has been and continues to be a scorching subject in Washington as the federal government copes with methods to manage giant social media firms and but 94% of Democrats and 76% of Republicans had nothing to say about it. That is usually the case with vital coverage points which might be complicated and obscure. For the Republicans who did speak about it, most of them understood this concern as an try and restrict free speech, particularly conservative speech. The identical holds true for the talk over whether or not the big social media firms are monopolies and ought to be damaged up. The overwhelming majority of candidates in each events (92% of Democrats and 94% of Republicans) had nothing to say about this subject.

There have been additionally points which have been perceived to benefit one social gathering or one other and have been thus not mentioned. Not surprisingly, Democrats shied away from discussing the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021, whereas the Republicans who did point out it used the difficulty to criticize President Biden. Republicans stayed away from discussing the excessive value of prescribed drugs, and from discussing Biden’s infrastructure invoice—two points widespread with the general public. Legalization of hashish was largely ignored by candidates in each events, however Democratic candidates spoke extra favorably about it than did Republican candidates. And the January 6 rebellion on the Capitol was ignored by extra Republican candidates (83%) than by Democratic candidates (65%.)

Police and felony justice reform have been talked about equally by each events’ candidates—45% every. The substantive divisions, nevertheless, are predictable. Republicans talked about ‘Blue Lives Matter’ and help of regulation enforcement. Democrats tended to speak in regards to the want for police reform and Black Lives Matter. In step with our findings on different excessive, far-left, points, only a few Democratic candidates (17 out of 962 or lower than 2%) talked about defunding the police.


The first yr started because the nation’s second powerful winter of Covid was ending. The nation was keen to place the pandemic behind it and so have been the candidates. We regarded for the way they felt about vaccine mandates and shutdowns. Because the pandemic light into the background, few candidates talked about it. Seventy-six p.c of all candidates had nothing to say about vaccine mandates; 95% of Democrats didn’t point out it in any respect, however 36% of Republicans did. Of that 36%, 99% of Republicans made statements in opposition to vaccine mandates. Considerably extra candidates talked about lockdowns—largely Republicans who have been in opposition to authorities interference. However because the pandemic started to fade, so did its salience within the primaries.


As we found in earlier years, congressional primaries function two distinct units of conversations with solely a small variety of points mentioned in each events. And, as we found in earlier years, many points which might be vital in Washington don’t get mentioned in congressional primaries. Clearly, incumbents have positions on a lot of the points as a result of they’re pressured to take votes on a variety of areas. Different candidates, nevertheless, fluctuate extensively. Some candidates run on one or two points. Different candidates try and cowl the waterfront of points—some higher than others.

In these polarized instances the events are diametrically opposed on many points and surprisingly united internally. There are a number of exceptions. Among the many Democrats there’s a debate nonetheless ready to occur between single payer well being care and bettering the patchwork of applications in our present well being care system. Among the many Republicans, there’s a debate nonetheless ready to occur over constructing a wall or doing different, maybe extra productive, issues to enhance border safety.

Lastly, there may be one shocking little bit of concord in a celebration system affected by battle. As for international coverage and America’s position on the planet, candidates in each events expressed help for a powerful American presence on the planet—a welcome respite from polarization.



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