Looking for *just* the right set of data points to explain what made the 2022 midterm elections unique? How about the fact that for the first time since 1986, the party in the White House netted two new governors; or that thanks to wins in Alaska and New Mexico, House Democrats will represent almost double the land area they did at the outset of the last Congress; or TV ad spending this midterm was the highest on record, more than doubling 2018 spend.

So, light some pine-scented candles, grab a mug of hot chocolate, and dig into The Cook Political Report’s “22 Things We Learned From 2022” about races for the Senate, House, Governor, and the overall national political environment.

Dive into the 22 things we learned in 2022:

National (1-5)

1. 2022 was the most expensive midterm on record for TV ad spending.

According to the campaign ad tracking firm AdImpact, the 2022 political cycle was the most expensive midterm election on record, with over $8.9B spent, more than doubling the $3.9B spent during the 2018 midterms. In fact, this year’s midterm spending was just $119M shy of 2020, the most expensive political cycle of all time.
Ad spending in 2018, 2020 and 2022

2. Even so, 2020 still wins the award for most TV ads aired.

However, according to Wesleyan Media Project, while spending on advertising in House and Senate contests was up 10 percent compared to 2018, the volume of TV ads (the number of ads run) “does not break historical records in all cases.” It was 2020, not 2018, that saw the highest volume of TV ads in races for the House and Senate. In House races this cycle, writes the Wesleyan Media Project analysis, ad volumes cycle-to-date were down 7 percent from 2020 and in Senate races the volume was down 35 percent from 2020. “In general, though, ad volumes in congressional races since (and including) 2018 are higher than in the three previous elections in 2012, 2014, and 2016.”

3. Traditional advertising (TV and cable), made up 73% of all ad spending in 2022.

But, CTV, Connected TV, has become a bigger share of the political advertising market, representing 12% of all ad spending this cycle. CTV is defined as a device that plugs into your TV (or is part of your TV) that allows you to stream content (think Roku or Apple TV). (AdImpact)

4. Democrats Overwhelmingly Won Voters Who Said Abortion *and* Inflation (or Neither Issue) Was Top Concern, 

Exit poll data found that abortion and inflation were the top two issues for voters this fall. 

Unsurprisingly, those who saw inflation as a top issue voted for Republicans (71% to 28% for Democrats), while those who said abortion was their most important issue voted overwhelmingly for Democrats (76% to just 23% for Republicans).

However, according to a post-election survey of 2022 midterm voters by the progressive polling firm Navigator Research, Democrats carried those voters who said that they were concerned about BOTH abortion and inflation (62% to 35%) as well as those who said that neither abortion nor inflation was their top issue (58%-38%).

5. The polarization in our politics isn’t just happening at the federal level.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “state control is more unified in either the blue or the red column than ever, and the number of divided state governments is lower than ever.” Democrats now have full control of state government in 17 states, while Republicans hold trifectas in 23 states. That leaves just ten states with divided government, the fewest since 1952, when eight states had divided state control. Between 2000 and 2010, there were always 20 or more divided states.

More from the Cook Political Report

CPR 2024 National Polling Average
Cook Politcal Logo
First Person
Cook Politcal Logo