Voter trends from the 2022 midterm elections are still being analyzed, but farm lobbyists and a political analyst believe the information gleaned could lead to a renewed focus on rural and independent voters in the 2024 cycle.

Nathan Gonzales with Inside Elections joined this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers to discuss his analysis and the outcomes of the 2022 midterm votes. Gonzales says independent voters were more likely to favor the party in power this time than they typically do in mid-term elections.

Heading into the midterms, Gonzales and many others expected President Joe Biden's lagging approval rating and concerns about inflation to weigh down Democratic candidates.

“If voters don't like the job the president is doing, then they punish members of the president's party because they can't vote against the president in a midterm. But those independent voters did not do that,” Gonzales said. “Maybe they were uncomfortable with voting for some Republican candidates … they weren't comfortable with the alternative and that is going to be, I think, one of the themes, the takeaways, from 2022.”  

Votes are still being tallied across the country, and neither party had locked enough seats to top the 218 necessary to secure the House majority. Knowing who will control the Senate could have to wait until after a December runoff election in Georgia.

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Mike Stranz with the National Farmers Union says regardless of which party is in the majority, the farm bill should be well-positioned to be a bipartisan effort.

“It looks like with these narrow majorities, either way, that the farm bill is going to have to move towards the middle … And I think that bodes well for a 2023 farm bill,” he said Stranz.

Christy Seyfert with the American Soybean Association says there will be “a lot of relationship building ahead” of the next farm bill with the newly elected members of Congress, but before then there are many things ASA would like to see accomplished in the lame duck season.

“I think all of agriculture right now wants to see two very qualified nominees move toward confirmation,” said Seyfert, referring to the stalled confirmations of Doug McKalip to be the chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Alexis Taylor to be USDA’s undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs.

Ethan Lane with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association agreed with Seyfert and said trade is an area the “Biden administration is going to have some work to do.”

“The party is going to need to really show — whoever’s in charge in the Senate — that they can get those nominees confirmed,” said Lane.

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