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The turnout story emerging from the 2022 midterm elections

 November 11, 2022 at 12:42 PM PST

S1: How voter turnout shaped the midterm elections.

S2: The wide voting population , which as most of us know , is largely a Republican voting population , had more of a say.

S1: I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS midday edition. The not so clear path forward for Republican Kevin McCarthy to become speaker.

S2: Unlike some speakers in the past , he's less of a policy specialist or ideologue , but is much more a relationship builder. And it clearly has served him well within the Republican caucus.

S1: And a look at veteran artwork on display at the Oceanside Museum of Art on this Veteran's Day. That's ahead on Midday Edition. As the vote count in the 2022 midterm election continues , a story is emerging about who turned out and why. UC San Diego political scientist Zoe Hai , now co-director of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research , joins me now with some takeaways. Zoe , welcome.

S2: Thank you. Pleasure to be here.

S1: So one of the things you've noted about Tuesday's election is how similar it is to 2020. Issues that mattered to voters in the past mattered in the same way in 2022.

S2: Right. So , you know , in this hyper polarized partisan world that we live in , it was once again the case on Tuesday that , you know , almost all Democrats voted for Democratic candidates. Almost all Republicans voted for Republican candidates. You see similar trends , constant trends by ideology , age differences , gender differences , racial and ethnic differences. So the things that predicted the vote before are almost exactly the same things that predicted the vote this time around.

S1: Mm hmm. And one of the major differences is turnout.

S2: But the early results suggest that one of the big differences is that the white share of the vote was greater this time around than it was in 2020. So roughly 73% of all voters in the election on Tuesday were white. That's up from about 67% in 2020. So the the white voting population , which as most of us know , is largely a Republican voting population , had more of a say in racial and ethnic minorities who typically and generally are more democratic , had a little bit less of a say. So that , in essence might account for some of the movement from 2020 to 2022 in terms of the Republicans making some level of gains in certain locations.

S1: You know , with reproductive rights being a big issue heading into midterm elections , it was thought that women would be the deciders of this election.

S2: So the interesting thing there is that the gender gap wasn't as massive it may be as some people were predicting it would be. So , you know , the 53% of women voted Democratic and 42% of men voted Democratic. So there's definitely a gap , but that's not too dissimilar from previous elections. That doesn't mean an abortion wasn't important. So it could be that men and women moved slightly to the Democratic side because of the issue of abortion. But we at least in terms of this , the simple gap between men and women , we didn't see a massive shift from 2020.

S1: There's been a lot of talk about the Gen Z vote. And in fact , about 27% of voters between 18 and 29 participated , the second highest turnout in a midterm in 30 years.

S2: But it's that there's a trend over the last couple of decades of younger voters participating more and more. So they were around around 20% turnout and now we're getting closer to 30%. So they have a bigger voice. Number one , the other change and maybe even bigger change in some sense is that younger voters have become more Democratic over time. So in on Tuesday , that sort of 18 to 29 year old age bracket , 63% of them voted for Democratic candidates at the House level. That's gone up from basically younger voters ten , 20 years ago , being evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. So more younger voters and more consistently Democratic among the young voters who do show up. Indicates that as America , in some sense , as older Americans have age out or are not involved in election and younger more and more younger voters are involved with , we could become more Democratic over time. Now , lots of other things will impact that that future story. But that's an interesting point to sort of think about that we are becoming , or at least our younger generations are more democratic.

S1: What about the Latino vote ? There was a lot of discussion about Latino voters shifting to the Republican Party ahead of the election.

S2: And so , yes , there is a shift of some Latinos to the Republican Party. So. We have , you know , from a height of , say , 65 , 66% of Latinos voting Democrat , Democratic at one point in time to maybe around now , 60% voting Democratic in 2022. So there's a small drop , but there wasn't a significant shift from 20 to 22. And so what we're there's something happening maybe , and it could be that if this trend continues , Democrats should be worried and the Republican Party will gain more and more Latino voters. But it hasn't been a big trend so far and it hasn't been a long term trend. So , one , it's hard to know exactly what will happen. The other thing I guess I would add on that is in previous elections , we've seen reasonably large shifts back and forth among Latinos. And so a small short term shift to me doesn't tell us that Latinos are moving over the long term to the Republican Party. So we're talking a lot about it , but I'm not sure how significant it really is.

S1: Zoe Heino is a UC San Diego political scientist and co-director of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research. Zoe , thank you so much for talking with us today.

S2: Thank you very much.

S1: It looks like Republicans will be in the majority in the House of Representatives come January. Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy is expected to become speaker. But as KQED , Scott Shafer reports , his path forward is far from clear.

S3: As the polls closed Tuesday night , House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told his caucus they would soon be in the majority. But the GOP celebration was put on ice as that red wave failed to materialize , leaving McCarthy's future in doubt.

S2: A narrow majority for McCarthy means he'll be much , much more dependent on Trump's strongest supporters because he won't have any other options for putting together a voting majority on the legislation that he wants.

S3: That's Dan Schnur. He teaches political communications at USC and UC Berkeley. He says although Republicans apparently failed to win a sweeping victory , McCarthy has positioned himself to fulfill his longtime dream of becoming speaker.

S2: Unlike some speakers in the past , he's less of a policy specialist or ideologue , but is much more a relationship builder. And it clearly has served him well within the Republican caucus.

S3: GOP consultant Mike Madrid , who worked with McCarthy when he served in the state Assembly , says as speaker , McCarthy is likely to have one goal.

S2: They simply need to be masters at obstructing and slowing things down. And I think Kevin's probably quite capable of that.

S3: After the FBI raid on Donald Trump's Mar a Lago , McCarthy told Attorney General Merrick Garland to prepare for oversight hearings. If Republicans control the House and Madrid is sure McCarthy will keep that.

S2: Promise , I think you'll probably see an effort to impeach the President , Joe Biden. I think you'll probably see an effort to impeach Merrick Garland.

S3: Mark Sandalow of the University of California's Washington , DC Center says it might be tough for McCarthy to keep his members together , especially do or die Trump loyalists and a growing number of members who embrace Cunanan conspiracy theories.

S2: There's a group of maybe three dozen Freedom Caucus members who are willing to go sort of off the deep end on conservative issues , who want to shut down government , not raise the debt ceiling. McCarthy has never been one of those.

S3: Sandalow says the challenge for McCarthy , especially with a small majority , is that he lacks trust with the far right wing of his caucus.

S2: Nancy Pelosi has a credibility to go to the left and say , My heart's with you. Trust me on this. Kevin McCarthy does not have that credibility with the right.

S3: That lack of trust stems from things like the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. McCarthy took to the House floor that day and roundly condemned it and by implication , President Trump.

S4: The violence. Destruction and chaos we saw earlier was unacceptable , undemocratic and un-American.

S3: As Speaker , Nancy Pelosi has directed federal aid to California for things like protecting the Sacramento Delta or public Transit. But it's unclear if McCarthy will keep California top of mind. In fact , says Ivy Cargill , political science professor at CSU Bakersfield , McCarthy hasn't shown much interest in helping Kern County address its many problems , like poverty and bad water quality.

S2: Unfortunately , the air quality in the area is also very bad. I personally have not seen Mr. McCarthy discuss these issues.

S3: Assuming he does have a small majority , McCarthy might need to cut deals with Democrats to get things done. Dan Schnur says that could have an unanticipated outcome. More bipartisanship.

S2: He's a really good people person. He's very smart at reading a room and reading an individual. And as a result , he's actually like Biden.

S3: Whether the most conservative members of his caucus would even allow cooperation with the White House is another question. In any case , McCarthy as speaker , will likely have a very short leash with more conservative Republicans waiting in the wings if he stumbles.

S1: I'm Jade Hindman. On this Veteran's Day , we're doing something a little different with our weekend preview. An exhibition on display now at the Oceanside Museum of Art celebrates the work of artists who are also military veterans. Pop Smoke , a veteran art exhibition features artist who use bright colors , basic shapes and common images. It's a nod to the well-known artist of the early pop art movement , including Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein , who also happened to be veterans. Amber Zora is an interdisciplinary artist and member of the Emerging Veteran Art movement. She is a curator of the Pop Smoke exhibit and she joins us now. Welcome. Hi.

S2: Hi. Thanks for having me.

S1: Let's start with the name of the exhibit , Pop Smoke.

S2: It's kind of cheesy because I picked pop Smoke as the name as giving a kind of nod to pop artists. But also , you know , I was thinking about like , just kind of leaving certain ideas behind about veteran artwork. So popping smoke and some of those ideas. Hmm.

S1: Hmm. When you think of a veteran art exhibit , you might not actually think about bright colors and some of the joyful imagery that is part of this exhibition.

S2: We talked about how veterans sometimes shy away from healing art , language or language about being a veteran artist. And I just kind of kept thinking , why do we have to be so serious all the time ? Like , can we have a show that's somewhat joyful or weird and playful while also highlighting that veterans contain multitudes and that we're not a monolithic group that , like veterans , have come from different backgrounds and have different feelings around politics and also have different approaches to their art practice.

S1: You know , this this exhibit is a partnership between the Oceanside Museum of Art and the Veterans Art Project. And you held an open call for this for four artists to submit their work , which really allowed you to get to know artists you might not have otherwise. Talk about that. Yeah.

S2: Yeah. So there's , you know , different veteran art communities in Southern California. And the Oceanside Museum has like an art alliance and the veteran Art org has a group of folks , too. But we really wanted to make sure that , you know , if there's veterans and service members that were in the area that we hadn't been able to reach out to yet , that they had the ability to show their work as well. And so we had an open call and then I kind of juried or curated the exhibition and the artworks and at Oceanside are the ones that I felt were the strongest pieces for that exhibition.

S1: One of the artists whose work you included is Gina Herrera. Tell us about her and her art.

S2: Gina creates this sculptural work. She's from Bakersfield , California , and there are works that are created out of detritus or trash. She was deployed to Iraq and she saw for miles and miles of trash that the U.S. was leaving there. The US Army was living there. And when she came back to the states , she didn't want to continue to produce stuff. So she was responding. She was responding to that experience by creating these sculptures out of out of garbage.

S1: Another artist who created original work for the exhibition is Michael Stephens. Tell us about him and his work.

S2: So he he lives in Oceanside and he created all of the the that the work is called Lichtenstein's. And so he really responded to where I which in science work. And that like he was creating these bureau signs that used a lot of similar colors to the pop art movement. And he just wanted to create new works , new cups. And so he kind of pushes back on kind of like healing arts being the only way to create like he just kind of wants to make new work. And when I was talking to him about his work and why he used the bright colors is like , you know , when I was in the military , it was all like olive drab tan and , you know , natural colors that when I create work now , I just want to use like bright colors.

S1: And , you know , as you mentioned earlier , the veteran community is not a monolith. How did you approach curating this exhibition to community ? Hate that idea to people who would come to the exhibit.

S2: Thinking about , you know , every veteran has different approaches to the work. Some create for the healing benefits. Some just want to make cups of clay and some approach their work as activists or within this social justice scope. And some are , you know , bringing a kind of more deep or like art historical side of things. And I , I created an exhibition that kind of touches on a lot of different ways that veterans create. And , you know , I feel like most people don't have too many points of reference to the military. I mean , if Southern Cal , California obviously does , but some have like a very specific idea of what a veteran is. And I came back from Iraq when I was 21. So and most of my unit was under 25 years old and still had , you know , like baby fat in their sheet , on their cheekbones. And I don't think that when you think of a veteran , you think of like a 21 year old woman , like a college student. But I'm 36 now and I'm still a little bit of like an anomaly at the VA hospital. So I wanted to make sure that , like there was multiple perspectives that were represented within that exhibition. Hmm.

S1: Thank you so much for your service , Amber.

S2: Oh , thank you so much for having me.

S1: I've been speaking with Amber. Zora , a curator of Pop Smoke , a veteran art exhibition on display now through January 15th at the Oceanside Museum of Art. And again , thanks for your time and sharing this art exhibit with us.

S2: Thank you.

As the vote count continues in the 2022 midterm elections, a story is emerging about who turned out and why. Next, it looks like Republicans will be in the majority in the House of Representatives come January. Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy is expected to become Speaker, but his path forward is far from clear. And, on this Veterans Day we hear about an exhibition on display now at the Oceanside Museum of Art that celebrates the work of artists who are also military veterans. Pop Smoke: A Veteran Art Exhibition is on display through January 15.