• November 3, 2021

The 2022 Elections Have Started. Get Ready Now.

The 2022 midterm elections will have a massive impact on policy and legislation, the regulatory climate and the next presidential race. Smart teams are getting ready now.

With this year’s elections now in the books, many organizations have already turned their attention to races a year from now—and their timing is solid.

The 2022 midterm elections will have a tectonic impact on how your government relations team does business in the next three years. It will affect policy and legislation, both in Congress and in the states. It will impact the regulatory climate implemented by the Biden administration. And it will shape the presidential race in 2024.

“It would be hard to overstate the impact of the 2022 elections,” said Jeb Ory, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Capitol Canary. “The election is going to dominate the national conversation next year and smart organizations are getting ready now.”

From creating an Election Center, a GOTV tool that helps voters register and see who’s running, to setting the tone your organization will take and creating a communications strategy, there is much that can be done this year. To get your election plan ready, keep reading.

What’s at Stake in the 2022 Elections

Like all midterms, there are thousands of races taking place across the country next year, all of which have a major impact on the government affairs landscape.

  • The House. All 435 members of the House will face voters next year and it remains to be seen whether Democrats can hold onto a very thin margin. Democrats hold the chamber with 220 seats, compared to the Republicans’ 212, with three vacancies caused by resignations or deaths.
  • The Senate. About a third of the Senate (34) will face voters, with the margin even tighter than the House. The Senate is split 50-50, with Democrats controlling the chamber because Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote. Republicans are defending 20 seats while Democrats will defend 14. Here is a list of the Senate seats that are up for reelection.
  • State Legislatures. State lawmakers in 88 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers will face voters. Roughly 8 out of every 10 legislators—more than 6,000 seats—are on the ballot. Nationwide, about 54% of state legislative seats are controlled by Republicans.
  • Governors. There are 36 governors on the ballot, including 20 seats held by Republicans and 16 controlled by Democrats.
  • Biden’s Agenda. The biggest impact of the 2022 elections will be the future of President Joe Biden’s agenda. If Democrats lose control of the House or Senate, Biden will lose the ability to press his agenda using legislation. If Republicans take one or both chambers, productivity in Congress will slow to include only bills where lawmakers can reach a bipartisan consensus. That’s a very short list.
  • Republicans’ Future. If Republicans take either chamber of Congress, it will give the party momentum going into the presidential race in 2024. In addition, many state and federal candidates will be courting Donald Trump’s supporters. How those candidates fare will be a major indicator of how much support the former president will have in 2024.

What Your Team Can Do Now

Of course, there are many variables that will impact next year’s election, from America’s economy and pandemic recovery to voting rights laws passed in dozens of states that will alter how people go to the polls. Turnout, which set records in 2020, is still an open question. So is timing, with recounts and challenges likely to delay election results. National events, presidential approval ratings and many other factors can impact the action next year.

Yet, whatever climate emerges, your organization can begin getting ready right now. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Create Your Strategy. Companies might help their employees learn about local races and register to vote. Associations and nonprofits may be supporting specific candidates, creating policy based report cards and holding events. Whatever the strategy, your organization should have its plan together as we exit 2021. The level of noise will be high next year and the competition for attention will be intense. The organizations that break through will be those with a thoughtful strategy that is well executed.
  • Build a Communications Plan. How will you communicate with your audience about the election next year? What is the appetite for election-related communiques? Will you confine your messaging to a regular newsletter or will you send ad-hoc communications based on events? The answers will be different at every organization, but knowing how you will communicate is important. When you have a framework, you can start crafting messaging. Having your language on important topics and key races set and blessed by leadership can make the coming year go far more smoothly.
  • Assemble Your Tools. A Civic Action Center acts as a hub for your audience, allowing them access information on candidates, early voting, mail-in ballots and polling places all in one place. They can even register to vote. No matter what your agenda, providing information and resources that help your audience navigate the election is a solid move. If your advocacy strategy for next year does not include GOTV tools, you are not as ready as you should be.
  • Cultivate Rapid Response Capabilities. Candidates say things. They support and oppose policies, attack opponents, defend allies and loudly proclaim their positions. Sometimes these proclamations require a response—and fast. Fail to respond and your organization will be left out of the conversation. A text messaging program vastly improves rapid response. Text has a 99% open rate, a conversion rate that often runs to double digits and the majority of the action it generates happens quickly.
  • Set the Tone. As we approach the end of the year, it is a good time to contact your supporters with a message that sets the tone for 2022. Thank them for their work this year, explain what they can expect next year and why the election is important to your organization—and to them, personally. A short letter or video from the CEO will help keep your supporters motivated.