Though President Biden’s name won’t be on the ballot, the midterms will in many ways be considered a referendum on his presidency. UCLA professors weigh in on some of the nation’s most pressing issues.
Political parties and the ‘rules of the game’
Vavreck is UCLA’s Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy and co-author, with Chris Tausanovitch, of “The Bitter End: The 2020 Presidential Campaign and the Challenge to American Democracy.” The book’s observations and insights are drawn from data collected as part of Nationscape, a national political survey conducted by the authors.
“In terms of the future of elections in America, it is very important who wins these elections, but it is almost just as important who loses, because it is the actions of those who don’t win that will acutely determine whether democracy thrives or crumbles in 2022.”
Immigration and trade
Hinojosa-Ojeda is an associate professor in the UCLA Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies and the author of “The Trump Paradox: Migration, Trade, and Racial Politics in U.S.–Mexico Integration.” He researches the impacts of trade, investment and migration in the U.S., Mexico, Latin American and the Pacific Rim.
“Donald Trump presented immigration and trade as the cause of the diminished prospects of white working-class voters, the core of his political base. Our research, however, demonstrates that white voting for Trump was unrelated to immigration levels and, paradoxically, strongest in counties with low levels of trade. Although widely accepted as truth, the research shows that virtually no aspects of Trump’s simple narrative have any basis in actual reality.”
Global energy crisis
Boyd is an environmental law professor at UCLA School of Law and the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. He is also faculty co-director of the law school’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
“It’s going to be a rough winter in Europe, and a rough winter for much of the U.S. There will be real issues with cooking and heating related to energy security, poverty and equity.”
The Supreme Court effect
Orfield, a professor of education, law, political science and urban planning, co-directs the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA.
“Basic rights for women and people of color are under threat in the most conservative Supreme Court in almost a century, and the damage can only be corrected by a Congress writing new laws securing those rights. If the GOP wins either house, those laws and the domestic program of the Biden administration will come to a grinding stop. Voting rights, access to college for students of color and women’s freedom will shrink back to what they were several generations ago.”
The voting power of Latinos
Diaz, a practicing civil rights attorney and policy advisor, is the founding director of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute, a think tank focused on domestic policy challenges facing Latinos and other communities of color.
“Cycle after cycle, Latino voters have moved beyond the narrative of ‘the sleeping giant.’ This cycle, Latinos will again be critical voices in the electoral outcomes in important contests like congressional races in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and California’s Central Valley, statewide contests in Georgia, and the mayoral race in Los Angeles.”
Diversity and democracy
Rivera-Salgado is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center, director of the UCLA Center for Mexican Studies and a labor studies lecturer at the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.
“Democracy will only work if everyone feels like a full stakeholder in the process. Election coverage should include more voices of working-class voters during the midterm elections to help the public understand what issues motivate their political participation and what discourages them from voting.”
Pérez is a professor of political science and psychology who directs the Race, Ethnicity, Politics, and Society experimental lab at UCLA. He is the author of “Diversity’s Child: People of Color and the Politics of Identity.”
“Racial diversity has implications for politics beyond whether racism plays a role or not in elections. An accurate portrait of American political behavior this election season demands a fine-tooth assessment of all major racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.”
Election deniers and the impact of midterms on 2024
Hasen is a law professor who heads the Safeguarding Democracy Project and is the founder of the Election Law Blog. His most recent book is “Cheap Speech: How Disinformation Poisons Our Politics — and How to Cure It.”
“This is the first major test of our election system since the tumultuous 2020 election and false claims of a rigged or stolen election. Voters should have confidence that their votes will be fairly and accurately counted by professionals. One of the biggest questions in 2022 is if those who have doubts about the integrity of the 2020 elections will be elected to run elections in the 2024 presidential election year.”
Political consequences of disinformation
Fessler is a professor of anthropology and director of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute. He investigates how universal features of the human mind influence altruism, social conflict and susceptibility to disinformation. With collaborators like UCLA doctoral candidate Theodore Samore, he has explored how partisan differences can influence perception.
“There is a broad human tendency to believe information about dangers more readily than information about opportunities. Social conservatives display this asymmetry more strongly than social liberals. The result is that while liberals will more often be ill-prepared to confront actual dangers, they will also fall prey to disinformation less frequently. The reverse is true of conservatives. And 21st-century information technology has enormously augmented the political consequences of these differences.”