Skip to Content
Return to Blog

Election Day 2022 has come and gone, and despite the grim prognostications by pundits and pollsters — the Republican wave fell (mostly) flat. Democrats had the best performance in a midterm election in decades.

GOP candidates across the board failed to secure the big wins many predicted based on prior election patterns. In fact, more often than not, Trump-backed candidates in marquee races lost to Democrats.

So what happened? Where did Republicans go wrong? What did Democrats do right? How do we move forward? Everyone has their hot take — here’s ours.

Democratic victories for Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State set the stage for 2024 in battleground states

In an election where one out of three conservative candidates were election deniers, it was crucial to ensure that those who value democracy and fair voting access win. State-based victories in places like PA, WI, MI, and AZ mean that voter suppression in these regions will be tamped down, providing a level playing field for the 2024 election cycle. DBT is proud of the  work we did with the Pennsylvania State Education Association to support Josh Shapiro for Governor in PA and with the Democratic Attorneys General Association to win critical races in Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, and Wisconsin — ensuring that we have leaders who will uphold our democracy and fight for all of us

Latinos aren’t migrating to the right as fast as the GOP hoped 

Leading up to the midterm elections, we all heard about the impending “Red Wave” and that a large part of that would involve Latino voters joining the Republican ranks. But looking at the election results, that prediction didn’t ring true, with Florida being the exception. Democrats saw key victories in Senate races in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Pennsylvania — and Latinos played a major role in these wins. DBT is proud to have worked to help get out the Latino vote in 2022 with both Nick Miller in Pennsylvania and Somos Votantes in Georgia and North Carolina. 

Nick Miller was running in a State Senate race that covered Allentown and its growing Latino population. The campaign and DBT put together a separate media plan that met Latino voters in the mediums that they used, in the languages that they used, including Spanish and bilingual ads.

For Somos, DBT looked for where Latino voters were and how they consumed their media. In North Carolina and Georgia, DBT focused on ads that drew on the cultural importance of voting in Latino communities. Ads were placed in traditional spaces (Facebook, Youtube, Google search), but the best-performing ads were in-app ads found in phone games. Tia’s and Abuela’s for the win! 

Down-ballot candidates can boost turnout. 

A notable number of down-ballot candidates appear to be outperforming Democrats at the top of the ticket. Statewide campaigns and national party entities should pay attention to the ways that down-ballot candidates can help boost turnout and incorporate that into their strategy.

If you’re a down-ballot candidate and you’re worried the top of the ticket is going to drag you down, get out and start talking to voters early. Get on their radar. Let them know who you are and what differentiates you from the rest of the ticket. By the time October rolls around, it’s going to be too late to make that distinction. 

Republicans went too far right too fast for the rest of the country. 

Americans like freedom, and they like democracy. Far-right candidates who deny the results of the 2020 elections and ran on extreme anti-choice platforms, by and large, did not do well this cycle. The GOP’s identity politics agenda simply doesn’t align with the priorities of the electorate right now. 

Take a swing state like Pennsylvania, for example, which normally sees competitive statewide races decided by a point or two. Yet Democratic governor candidate Josh Shapiro defeated Doug Mastriano by 13 points. Mastriano was one of many Trump-backed gubernatorial candidates to face defeat in this cycle. 

Democrats need to offer real solutions that voters can wrap their arms around. 

We know Dobb‘s decision was bad. We know democracy is on the line. Simply identifying the problem isn’t enough. How is voting for a specific candidate going to fix those problems? 

Tangible solutions like student debt cancellation, marijuana legalization, and efforts for common-sense gun reform likely bolstered Democrats and allowed them to perform as well as they did. We must continue to deliver palpable policy outcomes that resonate with average Americans and center our messaging around those successes going forward. 

Develop more nuanced messaging for specific audiences. 

If you’re going to win, it’s going to be by building a coalition. It’s good for your message to be simple, but oversimplification can back you into a corner with some of the audiences you need to turn out. 

The truth is not all the groups in your coalition are going to care about and be motivated by the same things. It’s okay for your message to be nuanced and tailored to those you’re speaking to. Digital advertising and direct mail allow us to target specific groups with the specific messages that they care about. If you want to bolster your margins within specific demographics, you can’t be afraid to spend big to help drive voter turnout within these groups.

Democrats need to get back to their base. 

The Democrats who did well in 2022 were those who dug into the values that their base cares about. If winning the small percentage of incongruous, undecided swing voters means betraying the core Democratic values your base cares about, focus on expanding your base and turning them out on Election Day instead. 

Highlighting personal freedom issues like abortion rights along with economic security is the pathway to a Democratic majority. 

More From Decision 2022

Back to top