2022 Midterms: What we know so far
On this election night: what we know so far. We talk races that have been called, what we're watching for, and the sparse voting irregularities nationwide.
Guests: Axios' Margaret Talev, Hans Nichols and Stef Kight.
Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Naomi Shavin, Robin Linn, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Fonda Mwangi and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.
NIALA: So let’s timestamp this it’s just after 11 o’clock eastern time on election night.
I’m Niala Boodhoo, and you’re listening to a special extra edition of Axios Today.
Tonight: A pretty smooth day at the polls. And first: what we’ve learned so far – that’s our One Big Thing.
What we’ve learned so far
NIALA: There's still lots we don't know tonight, but Axios’ Managing Editor for Politics Margaret Talev and Politics Reporter Hans Nichols are here with the important things we do know right now. Hey guys.
MARGARET TALEV: Hey Niala.
HANS NICHOLS: Evening.
NIALA: Let's start in Florida. Republican House candidate Anna Paulina Luna, a Trump endorsed election denier won. Along with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, also endorsed by Trump. How are MAGA candidates doing in the election so far?
MARGARET: One thing we know at this early stage is that Florida is definitely a Republican state, but the question is that really gonna be good for Donald Trump, or is that gonna be good for Governor Ron DeSantis, who was quickly, swiftly reelected thanks to no small part to Miami-Dade County, a really important county as it turns out. And he's a Republican, so is Donald Trump. And now DeSantis because of the swiftness and power of that victory is immediately gonna get a leg up heading into what we expect is gonna be a bunch of 2024 announcements really soon.
Donald Trump already nervous, frustrated, irritated with Ron DeSantis. He's been trying out nicknames on him. I don't think it's really stuck, but Ron Des Sanctimonious, I think. Did I get that right? It doesn't roll off the tongue.
HANS: I worked, won too many syllables to really be a good like playground put down, but maybe I've just been put down on the playground too many times with a short name.
MARGARET: But that's another segment. That's real.
NIALA: That's a whole other podcast.
MARGARET: That's our midnight segment here. But, yeah.
NIALA: Let's play a little bit of Ron DeSantis, actually victory speech that he just had a couple hours ago.
RON DE SANTIS: We chose facts over fear. We chose education over indoctrination. We chose law and order over rioting and disorder.
NIALA: How much of that is a preview of what we're gonna hear from presidential candidate Ron DeSantis?
HANS: Oh, I think it's exactly what we're gonna hear, right? I mean, this is the test run. And he is got a good argument to make and that is the margins and that he had a big, big win in Florida. I think his win like we don't know everything right now, but his wind will look better when you look at how close and tight the rest of the country looks. And Florida right now is standing kind of apart. You know, everyone's very focused on Virginia and would we see a wave in Virginia? We basically have the results in Virginia, it doesn't look like there's a wave, but there does look to be like.
NIALA: It doesn't look like there's a red wave.
HANS: Doesn't look, there's a red wave. Excuse me. So I mean, I think the general take right now is that it could have been a lot worse for Democrats. I hear a sigh of relief coming across text messages if you can sign on texts from most Democrats I'm talking to. And that is they're gonna lose the House, Senate's still in play and the margins aren't that disastrous for them.
MARGARET: Where do we really care about Georgia and Pennsylvania? We don't know we're not gonna know tonight we are not gonna know by tomorrow morning. We might not know about Georgia for weeks depending on whether they've surpassed the threshold for 50% or more. And even Pennsylvania, it's gonna be hours and hours and hours and hours before we know.
NIALA: We're gonna talk about voting irregularities in a moment. What do we know so far about voter turnout across the country?
HANS: We'll know more when everything comes in, but it seems more presidential and midterm. But again, like if the numbers are tracking as they are right now, this is, you know, I can be corrected on historic, but it's, the turnout is what Democrats wanted.
MARGARET: We just don’t know if it's gonna be enough for Democrats to keep the Senate.
NIALA: What else are you all watching for overnight then? It sounds like the operative word that everyone should have is patience.
HANS: Yeah, look, you can extrapolate from the exit polls, so some of the exit polls coming out of Nevada suggest that there's a strong Hispanic turnout, at least for the Republican gubernatorial candidate. You know, look at this stage of the evening, and we're not even that rummy yet, right? It's still like it's still Election Day. It's not until the next day, a couple hours into it that people start truly saying insane things. But at this stage, people are looking for a reason why they're, and especially in a tight race, people are looking for a reason why their side is going to win, and sooner later they go to bed and they wake up and they see just how close it is. And that's what's kind of tough about this race right now. This election's just so close.
NIALA: Margaret, what does it say about the mood and how divided we are as a country if this really is so close?
MARGARET: Look, we've had so many competing priorities and discussions this year, and they're impacted by real news events, right? There was the Dobbs ruling and that made a lot of suburban female voters and younger voters think about how much they cared about reproductive rights.Then there were gas prices when gas prices rose people were mad at Democrats. As gas prices declined, Democrats got more popular when gas prices rose again low and behold, Biden's numbers trickling down. All of these are competing concerns.
Then the attack on Paul Pelosi, look a lot Americans do care about the future of American democracy and the rule of law and this kind of stuff. But when you put it up against how much it costs you to go to the grocery store every week, you know, it's just this grab bag of issues and people care about all of them. And you can't pick one candidate who represents all of them. Democrats aren't that thrilled with Democrats, but don't want Republicans. A lot of Republicans aren't that thrilled with Republicans, but they don't want Democrats. Swing voters are turned off by the whole thing. It's just, everybody's like, ugh, can we just get it over with?
NIALA: But by the same token, look how many people came out to vote?
MARGARET: A lot of people came out to vote, but they came out to vote for different reasons. Part of the Republican base came out to vote because Donald Trump told them to. Part of the Republican base came out to vote because they thought they could win if it mattered. Some Democrats came out to vote because of abortion. Some Democrats came out to vote because they don't want Donald Trump to be the next president or because they're worried about election deniers.
HANS: It doesn't seem like an inflation election yet, right? If it's that close, this big national sort of, I don't wanna say malaise cause that has too many Carter echoes. But this big national conversations we'll be having about inflation in the economy doesn't seem to be showing up. Or it did show up in that Democrats were so motivated by Dobbs and reproductive rights that it counteracted that, but it doesn't seem like there's a single theme right now that we can, other than the fact that the country's divided that we can divine from these results.
NIALA: Axios’ Hans Nichols and Margaret Talev. Thanks y'all.
HANS: Thanks for having us.
NIALA: In a moment, tracking Election Day issues at the polls.
A pretty smooth day at the polls
NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today! I’m Niala Boodhoo.
Reports of issues at the polls on Election Day were relatively sparse – but, there were a few incidents in places including Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Arizona.
In Maricopa County, Arizona this morning, about 25% of polling sites had reported issues with their ballot tabulator machines – but county officials said they resolved the issue.
Axios’ Political Reporter Stef Kight watched for irregularities in the voting process all day and is here with the big picture.
Stef, what did we see on election day in terms of problems at the polls?
STEF: You know, we did see a few isolated incidents and this is something that is not unusual. So for example, there were long lines in some areas around the country. There was a paper shortage in Pennsylvania that led to an extended voting period in one of the counties there were some website outages in Mississippi. So there were these isolated incidents that maybe created some problems in the moment, but voting election experts as well as CISA officials, which that's the organization that oversees election security for the federal government. They all really clarified to report it is that there was nothing really broadly going wrong that should cause a lot of concern.
NIALA: I feel like for the many election days I've covered, it does seem pretty smooth, but what has the narrative been among different parties about how voting has gone?
STEF: I mean, we have certainly heard from former President Trump on Truth Social, where he was really drawing a lot of attention to some of these minor issues and trying to make them seem like a bigger issue than they actually were. So he called the issue in Maricopa County, Arizona, a voter integrity disaster. He was saying the fact that, you know, results might be delayed a couple days in Pennsylvania was outrageous. And these of course are, you know, normal and not nefarious problems, but problems that election officials were working on and able to address relatively quickly.
NIALA: Are we hearing from different election deniers or other people in the Republican party that they're taking these incidents and saying they're an example of failed voting?
STEF: I'm sure we will see more of this as results come in. That's something that we're watching very closely. And of course when it comes to the certification process, we saw that that process in 2020 became a real focus among Republicans and those who question the 2020 election results. So that's something I'm gonna be looking at moving forward in the next couple days after Election Day. At this point we're still seeing just these smaller issues on election day really take focus.
NIALA: And the important note from the federal government is that in terms of election security, there doesn't seem to be any widespread efforts to disrupt our election process?
STEF: Exactly, CISA officials had three calls throughout the day with reporters in the morning, afternoon and evening. And every single time they really did emphasize that they were saying no activity that should cause anyone to question the security or the integrity of the election.
NIALA: Axios’ Stef Kight. Thanks Stef.
STEF: Thanks Niala.
NIALA: That’s it for us this evening! We will be back with you in a few hours. For the latest breaking news overnight, tune into axios dot com.
I’m Niala Boodhoo. Stay safe. Thanks for listening and I’ll see you in the morning.