This week, voters across the nation cast their ballots with inflation, a looming recession, abortion, and rising crime at the top of their minds.
Exit polls showed inflation and abortion played a critical role in the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections, consistently ranking as the top two priority voting issues. ABC’s exit polls found “about 32 percent of voters nationwide said inflation was the biggest issue, while 27 percent said abortion was.” Meanwhile, CNN exit polls found “Nearly a third of voters said inflation was the issue that mattered most in deciding how they voted for House candidates.”
And as polls closed on election night, Reuters confirmed “inflation and abortion topped the list of issues motivating U.S. voters.” Crime, immigration, and gun legislation were other top priority issues; however, tech legislation was nowhere to be found.
Throughout the election, Democrats put momentum behind issues, such as abortion and climate change, while inflation and crime drove the message in Republican campaigns. But no candidate from either party centered their campaign on tech-focused anti-innovation legislation.
The reason is clear. For months, polling has shown that voters want their elected officials to focus on the economy rather than low-priority issues, namely anti-innovation legislation. American Edge Project (AEP) polling from the summer found voters want their elected officials to focus on inflation and the cost of living (88 percent priority), jobs (85 percent priority), national security (86 percent priority), healthcare (82 percent priority) and abortion (64 percent priority), not anti-innovation legislation that targets our most innovative industry – American technology.
That same polling showed voters were concerned that tech legislation would hurt our economy and threaten our competitiveness (89 percent concerned). As a result, they were likely to reward candidates who prioritized high-priority issues, such as inflation, the economy, and national security rather than low-priority issues, such as tech legislation.
In the days leading up to the election, political analysts further confirmed the sentiment found in AEP’s polling results. On the eve of election day, Axios reported that, “The Democrats’ tech agenda over the last two years has been swept away by shifting priorities….” Axios continued by saying issues such as infrastructure spending, abortion rights, gun control and climate took precedence over tech.”
Just one week out from the midterm election, a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that inflation is “the most urgent issue facing the country today,” with abortion coming in second as the only other double-digit priority issue.
In some highly competitive races, Axios found that abortion, border/immigration, crime and healthcare were among the highest interest of voters in the days leading up to the election (October 31, 2022 to November 6, 2022) according to Google searches. Tech legislation never ranked among these high-interest issues.
An AEP poll from September 2022 found a vast majority of U.S. voters are worried that technology gains by China and Russia threaten our security and our economy. Ensuring that America remains competitive on the global stage is important to voters, and was substantiated by inflation, abortion, and the economy being top-priority voting issues, rather than tech legislation.
With a Morning Consult poll finding that 72 percent of adults believe the country is headed in the wrong direction just days before elections, the midterm results reaffirmed what AEP already knew – voters want their representatives in Washington to focus on high-priority issues. Pursuing unpopular, low-priority anti-innovation legislation is a losing battle while Americans grapple with much more pressing issues.