How Republicans could take control of Congress, according to NYU politics profs

Faculty experts in NYU’s Politics Department spoke to students about the importance of voting and the potential consequences of the 2022 midterm elections.

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The Wilf Family Department of Politics and the Politics Society at NYU hosted a panel discussion on the midterm elections featuring professors Sanford Gordon, Bryant Moy and Julia Payson.

Katherine Williams, Contributing Writer

NYU politics professors encouraged students to vote in this year’s midterm elections, which have seen Republican candidates lead in many races across the country, at a panel on Wednesday, Nov. 2. They emphasized how the Republican Party is expected to win the majority of seats in the House of Representatives, flipping its current Democratic majority. 

Panelists outlined campaign strategies, highlighted which races to watch and explained the implications of a Republican-led House on U.S. politics during the event. The discussion was co-hosted by NYU’s Politics Society, a nonpartisan student group.

“NYU has a lot of people who are experts on elections and governing, and we wanted to make sure we shared that wisdom with students, particularly in advance of this very important midterm election, when so much is on the line,” Patrick Egan, an associate professor of politics and public policy, said. “If they want to have a voice in the future, they have to vote — and that’s the other message we wanted to send tonight.”

Bryant Moy, a visiting professor who studies politics and data science, spoke about how Democratic messaging that pushes for abortion rights might not be effective with most Republican and independent voters. He said that according to a memo from the Republican National Committee, many of these voters were shown to consider economic concerns more heavily when voting.

“It’s really hard to figure out what message the Democrats have this year,” Moy said. “Republicans have always been better at messaging, and this year, it showed.”

NYU senior Veronika Kindred, a politics major who attended the panel, said she has noticed the effect of lackluster Democratic messaging in her classmates’ apathy toward voting.

“I don’t know if people are actually going to go to the polls,” Kindred said. “Just from having conversations with people in the last couple of weeks, a lot of people are under the impression that the general elections don’t matter — which is often true — but this year it seems like it might.”

The panelists discussed what might come from a Republican majority in the House, and theorized about political gridlock and voting outcomes for major issues such as abortion and gun control.

Egan warned against over-speculating on the issues that may be influencing electoral results, noting how they are often determined by historical precedent. He said that Democrats have a disadvantage due to Joe Biden’s presidency — historically, the party that holds the presidency tends to lose seats in Congress.

“I would be reluctant to overinterpret a loss of say, 30 or 40 Democratic seats in the House — that would not be an entirely unusual result,” Egan said. “What tends to happen is that for whatever side does poorly, there’s a lot of blame. It’s all about crime, it’s about all that inflation, etcetera. But what if it was just what was expected, and there’s actually no big interpretation to be made about the result at all?”

The professors emphasized the importance of the midterm elections this year, especially after the Jan. 6 insurrection and the slew of Republican candidates who disputed the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. 

“If they win, they would gain substantial control over how elections are conducted, how ballots are counted, and how electoral votes for president are awarded.” Moy said. “The stakes are particularly high in this midterm election — this season is of great importance.”

Contact Katherine Williams at [email protected]