Expert Commentary

The 2022 midterm elections: Research and tip sheets to help you cover the news

While preparing for Tuesday's midterm elections in the U.S., check out the resources we created to help journalists cover local and national elections, including tip sheets with advice from veteran political reporters and election experts.

Election 2022
(Manny Becerra on Unsplash)

If you’re preparing for midterm elections in the U.S. on Tuesday, please keep in mind the various resources we’ve created to help journalists cover local and national elections. We’ve got tip sheets, explainers and research roundups on election topics ranging from political polls and campaign finances to voter behavior and provisional ballots. We also look at some of the topics that will appear on ballots in the form of ballot measures, as well as the policy topics voters say they care about most.

Covering opinion polls

Tips for covering midterm elections

  • 8 tips from a former elections administrator: Tammy Patrick, a former federal compliance officer for the Maricopa County Elections Department in Arizona, provides advice for new and experienced journalists, including a list of things to monitor on Election Day.
  • 11 tips from veteran journalists and election scholars: Experienced political reporters suggest ways journalists can make the best use of their time at local voting precincts. Meanwhile, scholars who research polling place dynamics share insights to help journalists spot problems and contextualize the information they gather.
  • 4 tips on covering far-right rallies: Joan Donovan, an expert on right-wing extremism and misinformation campaigns, says journalists can do these four things to minimize harm and keep rumors, lies and other bad information out of their coverage.

Research to improve coverage of midterm elections

  • The role of local election officials: We highlight five studies that examine the role elections officials and poll workers play in making voting run smoothly. One study explains how the different processes for registering people to vote can affect registration rates across a state.
  • How health affects voter turnout: This roundup of research suggests people with chronic illnesses, mental health concerns, disabilities and the seasonal flu are less likely to vote.
  • Factors that can influence voter decisions on ballot measures: We spotlight research on the various factors that can influence whether voters support or reject a ballot measure, including how it’s worded and where it appears on the ballot.

Research on ballot measure issues

We’ve also gathered and summarized research on several issues that will go before voters during this year’s midterm elections. In most states, voters will be asked to weigh in on proposals to enact new laws or policies, make changes to others or amend their state constitutions. You can help them make more informed choices by explaining what the research says about these topics.

  • Sports betting: This piece looks at the landscape of legal sports betting in the U.S. and explains what the research says about how legalization affects tax revenues. It also provides a brief history of sports betting.
  • Rent control: We’ve summarized research that investigates whether rent control and rent stabilization policies help tenants stay in their homes.
  • Marijuana: Read this to get up to date about what’s known and unknown about the health effects of cannabis products.

Expert commentaries

  • Election Beat 2022”: Harvard media scholar Thomas E. Patterson has written a series of research-based columns examining issues around the 2022 midterm elections and how journalists cover elections more broadly.
  • What journalists need to know about the ballot initiative process: The manager of a voter empowerment project discusses what it takes for citizens to get a proposition on the ballot and the many ways those efforts can be stalled or sidelined.

Issues that matter most to voters

Inflation, the economy, crime, health care and climate change ranked as the top five “most important problems facing the country today” in a recent survey of 21,122 Americans conducted by the COVID States project — a collaboration between Harvard Medical School; Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy; Northeastern University Network Science Institute; Northwestern University and Rutgers University. Here’s a sampling of recent explainers and research roundups on those topics:

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