Written by Dave Huguenel, Managing Director
Tonight, several states are having major elections, with most of the attention focused on Virginia, Kentucky, and New Jersey. It’s anyone’s guess who will win and who will lose, but there is one thing for certain: There are going to be plenty of hot takes about what happened on Wednesday.
I think it’s a waste of time to join that chorus. Rather, I figured I might provide a little bit of insight of what I’ll be paying attention to as the results come in and how it may affect elections across the country in 2024.
1. Abortion versus everything else.
In 2022 we saw the reversal of Roe v. Wade and there was a measurable effect in how people voted. We saw record high turnout for Democratic leaning voters, especially younger women. Democratic campaigns have invested heavily in abortion-rights themed messaging in 2023, banking on the theory that this is still a big mover for the voters they need. However, it’s clear that voters are also extremely concerned about issues surrounding rising crime, the economy, and education.
So, it will be extremely interesting to see if this issue continues to offer Democrats an important edge or if there are signs that voters have turned their attention to issues they now find more concerning.
2. Are Democrats officially the “midterm” party?
A lot of friends have heard me say this before, but I believe one of the effects of the political realignment we’re going through creates more of an advantage for Democrats in midterm elections while Republicans are becoming stronger in Presidential election years. In short, as Democratic voters become higher-income and higher-educated it correlates that their voting propensity increases. Conversely, Republican voters are becoming more diverse, lower income, and are more likely to not have a college degree, which is typically the type of voter that is more likely to sit out a non-Presidential election. If we see these patterns on Tuesday it probably means Republicans will have a rocky night, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about 2024.
3. Who risked “losing differently”?
This might be my favorite idiom for campaigns, but one of the first things I tell clients that are gearing up to run in a tough election is that “in order to win you have to risk losing differently.” I have no doubt that there will be some surprise outliers on Tuesday night, leaving pundits perplexed as to how the candidate(s) won. The first thing I’ll be looking for are the messages and tactics used by those campaigns that were different, and unique and what can be learned from them for 2024.
4. AI as an uncharted world
Our creative director, Tat e Holcombe, considers the world of AI as “the Wild West” and I completely agree. Right now AI is the hot new tool to use in the digital marketing world. But being new means we’re still figuring out what tools work best, what are the best options to use, and how many AI tools we actually need.
It’s the big unknown and 2023 is the learning year for AI. Come next year, these things will be figured out and the 2024 season will see AI as a fine-tuned seamless tool that will help elevate campaigns.