What the 2022 midterm elections can tell us about what will happen in November

Tufts Public Opinion Lab
Published in
5 min readMar 22, 2024


by Thomas Hershewe, Zoe Kava, and Brian Schaffner

Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash

Despite being the rematch that some pollsters say voters “never really wanted”, the Biden-Trump election is returning. Many have pointed out that we’re in a strikingly similar spot as we were four years ago, just with the presidential candidates now four years older. Others have predicted that Biden versus Trump 2.0 will be a dramatically different race from their first showdown. After all, the 2020 election took place during the COVID-19 crisis, while the 2024 election is taking place across the backdrop of high inflation domestically and conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East abroad.

As the general election campaign starts to truly get underway, perhaps looking back to 2022 can tell us how key groups might vote this November.

Indeed, midterm elections often provide a preview of how people will vote in the subsequent presidential elections. Vote patterns in the 2018 midterms largely persisted into the 2020 contest, so we can likely learn a lot about what will happen in 2024 by studying how people voted in 2022.

In this vein, we recently published a detailed report on the 2022 midterm elections using the Cooperative Election Study, a poll of 60,000 American adults interviewed before and after the 2022 election. You should read the full report, which includes detailed analysis of how Americans voted in 2022, but in this post we highlight three key findings that we see as particularly relevant for 2024.

First, generally speaking, the composition of partisan support has changed little from election to election over the past few cycles. So, we can mostly expect to see the same vote patterns in 2024 that we saw in 2022 and 2020.

For instance, there continues to be a divide between young and old voters, between those with a college degree and those without one, and between men and women. And the size of the gaps between those groups has stayed pretty consistent over the past several election cycles. Thus, there is good reason to think that on many (or even most) metrics, the 2024 election will look quite similar to 2022 and 2020.

While the vote patterns in 2022 looked a lot like the past few election cycles, there were some noteworthy differences and two key trends to keep an eye on. First is the possibility of declining Democratic support among Black and Hispanic voters. If this trend does continue, it would help Trump and Republican candidates in 2024. Second is the increasing secularization of the electorate and the strong support that the “nones” (those who are not religiously affiliated) give to Democratic candidates. This trend could help Biden and Democratic candidates.

While Black voters have voted Democratic consistently for several decades now, their support waned a bit in 2022. In 2018, 92% of Black voters supported the Democratic House candidate, compared to 84% in 2022. However, this drop in support is largely due to 16% of Black voters who identify as conservative. In 2018, 70% of Black conservatives voted Democratic, but in 2022 the same group narrowly went for Republicans over Democrats in House races. Black voters have historically been one of the Democratic Party’s most reliable blocs of voters, so a drop in support could be detrimental for Biden’s reelection efforts.

That said, the historical context here is important, as Black support for Democrats has often been lower in elections not offering an opportunity to vote for Barack Obama or against Donald Trump. Indeed, 2022 was quite similar to 2010 in terms of how much support black voters gave to Republican House candidates.

Likewise, Hispanic voters appear to be returning to their pre-Trump levels of support for the Democrats. In 2016, Hispanic voters voted 10 points more Democratic compared to 2014, and another 5 points more Democratic in 2018. Yet, by 2022, this Democratic support returned back to the 2014 levels with around 58% voting Democratic.

The diploma divide — the divide between non-college educated Republican support and college educated Democratic support — persisted in 2022. While this divide is most prevalent among white voters, a similar educational divide among Hispanic voters may be responsible for their variable Democratic support.

Up until 2020, there was basically no educational divide among Hispanic voters. In 2020, college educated Hispanics voted about 5 points more Democratic compared to non-college educated Hispanics. In 2022, this gap grew to 10 points, with non-college Hispanic voters voting 57% Democratic and college-educated Hispanic voters at 65% Democratic. This Hispanic “diploma divide” may be a key factor in fueling reduced success for Democrats among Hispanic voters in 2022, and may be pivotal in deciding who wins in 2024.

Another interesting trend was that the 2022 election was increasingly polarized on religious grounds, continuing a few trends from recent decades. On the right, Evangelicals have been a core base of the Republican vote since the 1980’s. On the left, one of the most significant trends in American society is the growing size of the “nones” — those who do not engage in religious life. A growing share of voters identified themselves as religiously unaffiliated in 2022 compared to 2020 and 2018. In 2022, nearly half (46%) of all Democratic voters are religiously unaffiliated, compared to 38% in 2018. If this group grows again in November, it would be a positive sign for Biden’s reelection chances.

For the most part, the 2024 Biden-Trump rematch is likely to produce very similar vote patterns from four years ago. But two particular trends that emerged in 2022 could make the difference in determining who comes out on top in the rematch. Will Republicans continue to gain traction among Black and Hispanic voters, or will Democratic support among those groups stabilize or even rebound? And will secular Americans become an even larger share of the electorate this year, providing an increasingly significant base of support for Democrats?

For a full analysis on the 2022 midterms and what it means for this year’s election check out our newly released election report.



Tufts Public Opinion Lab

The Tufts Public Opinion Lab (TPOL) is dedicated to studying contemporary controversies in American public opinion using quantitative data analysis.