Midterm Elections Debrief with Punchbowl News

Punchbowl News Founder and CEO, Anna Palmer moderates a discussion with Phillip J. Morris, Partner at the Locust Street Group in front of an in-person and virtual audience. Meridian House, 11.16.22. Photo by Stephen Bobb.

With many races in the 2022 midterm elections still to be decided, Anna Palmer, Founder and CEO of Punchbowl News, and Phillip J. Morris, partner at Locust Street Group, provided an insiders' perspective, dissecting and analyzing the races and results.

Here are the top takeaways from the conversation:

1. “Hate the pundit, not the pollster”

“Polling can unpack the issues that pundits don’t see,” said Morris. Having the “on the ground knowledge” of their constituents, Capitol Hill staffers are particularly in tune with politics in Washington and beyond. Punchbowl News, a membership-based news community providing analysis on politics across the nation, regularly polls senior staff from Capitol Hill and K Street to build The Canvass. It reflects high-level information by building trust amongst those surveyed, resulting in accurate predictions of the winners in several key Senate races and the issues that drove voters to the poll.

2. Domestic Issues Drove Voters to the Polls

Morris gave credit to staffers on the Hill for “accurately knowing their districts,” and their top concerns. The Canvass’ results predicted the issues that drove voters, including record numbers of Gen Z voters, to the polls: inflation, the economy, abortion, and public safety. Issues that weren’t mentioned as a driving factor for voters include the border, immigration policy, and foreign policy outside of the Russia-Ukraine scope.

3. Predicting a “Medium Lame Duck”

Not a “lame lame duck session” but rather a “medium lame duck,” Palmer and Morris delineated the topics that will dominate discussions in the coming Congress: the National Defense Authorization Act, a government funding bill, providing more aid to Ukraine, hurricane relief for Florida, and raising the debt limit. There is less probability of Congress focusing on same sex marriage, energy, tax reform, and safe banking reform.

4. Top priorities for a split Congress

Though the final results are yet to be decided, Palmer and Morris predicted that the next House of Representatives will be Republican-majority. The plan of action for a Republic House will be one of oversight, not regulation. The priority issues to tackle will be inflation, providing further aid and support to Ukraine, tech regulation (particularly on platforms such as TikTok, META, and Twitter), crypto regulation, and crime and public safety.

At the time of the program, The Canvass correctly predicted that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would step down from role as party leader in the House. Democratic staffers predicted that Representative Hakeem Jeffries will ascend to the role. On the Republican side, Representative Kevin McCarthy is projected to take on the role as Speaker of the House, but based on the results of the poll, Republican staffers predict he has yet to reach the 218 votes required.

5. 2024 or Bust!

In tune with Trump’s recent announcement to run for president in 2024, Morris stated it is never too early to look toward the next cycle, and cautions to not “look at any one moment in time, but at trends.” The Trump campaign may not have the same Republican support it did in the past — momentum is gaining for a 2024 Ron DeSantis or Glenn Younkin bid.

Although there haven’t been any announcements from Democrats, President Biden has no significant opposition to run for reelection. Prior to the midterm elections, Democrats were split, but due to several Democratic electoral victories, President Biden has gained more support. If he does not run in 2024, the top names proposed were: 1) Secretary Pete Buttigieg 2) Vice President Kamala Harris. Following the midterm elections, there is also growing support for a bid from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and from Governor Gavin Newson.


Project summary

Midterm Elections Debrief with Punchbowl News | November 2022
Impact Areas: Civic Engagement
Program Areas: Diplomatic Engagement
Partners: Diplomatic Corps
Meridian Midterms Debrief