As the country inches closer toward Election Day, voters are homing in on issues that may decide the fate of Congress and several state governments in November.
The Washington Examiner is tracking which issues are on the top of voters’ minds as they prepare to head to the polls, particularly in key battleground states that could bring a shift in power to the federal government. Specifically, we’re tracking how voters are researching our top five issues — abortion, crime, education, inflation, and taxes — and how these interests fluctuate as we get closer to Election Day.
MIDTERMS 2022: TRACKING THE ISSUES THAT MATTER TO VOTERS AHEAD OF ELECTION DAY
Below, you can track the interest in Louisiana in each of our key issues on a rolling 30-day basis. The Washington Examiner will be updating this page as interests and voting concerns change.
Key races we’re watching in the state:
Louisiana has a handful of congressional races on the ballot in November, with all six of its House races up for grabs and one open Senate seat.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) is seeking to defend his seat in the Senate against a challenge from Democrat Luke Mixon, a former Navy fighter pilot. The race has been heating up in the weeks leading up to the election, with both candidates unleashing a number of TV ads hitting at the other as a last-ditch effort to sway voters in their favor.
Kennedy, who has been backed by former President Donald Trump, is favored to win the race as he faces a crowded field of 12 candidates who want to oust him. Louisiana’s midterm elections are unique in that the state never held a primary, meaning all candidates will appear on the November ballot to vie for a victory in the general election.
However, the top candidate must garner more than 50% of the vote to win the November election. Otherwise, the top two are forced into a December runoff.
Further down the ballot are a handful of House races that Republicans are expected to dominate. As of 2022, Republicans hold five of the six House seats in Louisiana and none of the seats were decided by less than 30 points.
Education emerged as the top-researched issue among Louisiana voters in September and October and remained the No. 1 priority as of Oct. 17, according to internet searches recorded and analyzed by Google Trends.
Searches related to education spiked several times over the last 30 days, mirroring nationwide trends that saw the issue receive renewed interest over the last three months — likely coinciding with the beginning of the school year. Other spikes in interest may be due in part to the announcement of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program that was unveiled on Aug. 24.
Taxes emerged as another top issue among Louisiana voters, seeing a number of spikes in early October before coming in at No. 2 as of Oct. 17.
Internet searches related to taxes spiked twice, on Sept. 26 as well as Oct. 4 and Oct. 13 in tandem with education searches, likely having to do with Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan providing relief to up to 43 million borrowers. The forgiveness plan described parameters for who would be eligible for student loan cancellation, noting borrowers will need to earn under $125,000 individually or $250,000 as a household.
The rise in tax-related internet searches in relation to student loan forgiveness comes after some states announced that borrowers may be taxed. Louisiana is one of the few states to announce borrowers will be exempt from paying taxes on their loan forgiveness.
Crime was another top issue among voters over the last 30 days, sparring with education as the No. 1 issue for much of October before falling to No. 3 as of Oct. 17.
Rising crime rates in Louisiana have become a focal point of the Senate race, as Kennedy has spent much of his campaign decrying “woke” Democrats for being the cause of increased violent crime in the state. The Republican senator even released a TV ad in late September featuring images of hooded figures pointing guns at victims followed by scenes of protesters holding up signs that read “Defund the police.”
“Look, if you hate cops just because they’re cops, the next time you get in trouble, call a crackhead,” Kennedy said in the ad, attracting national headlines.
Crime has emerged as a top voter priority nationwide, with 60% of voters saying violent crime is a “very important” issue, ranking behind only the economy and gun policy, which are not included in the Washington Examiner’s analysis.
Republicans have sought to paint Democrats as too “soft on crime” throughout the midterm cycle, and the GOP may have an advantage because it is typically considered better at handling crime, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll from April. That is a shift from previous sentiments that both parties are capable of handling crime.
Abortion was a relatively low-researched topic among Louisiana voters over the last 30 days, experiencing two spikes in interest on Oct. 7 and 10.
Although Democrats have leaned on abortion as a key issue to motivate voter turnout, the issue hasn’t seemed to influence the midterm elections in Louisiana. State law bans the procedure at any point in one’s pregnancy with exceptions for health risks to the mother, according to a new law that took effect in late June after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Inflation remained one of the lowest-searched topics over the last 30 days, receiving a spike in interest on Oct. 14 and Oct. 16 before falling back to No. 5.
The spike in interest is likely due to the latest report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that was released on Oct. 13, the final report before Election Day. Inflation clocked in at 8.2% for the 12 months ending in September — higher than expected and defying the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes.
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Stocks immediately took a hit after the report was released. Futures of the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down some 500 points just minutes after the report’s release. The S&P 500 was off by about 2%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq plunged nearly 3%.
Republicans have long focused on inflation as a key voter concern in the midterm election cycle, pointing to soaring inflation rates under Biden. However, inflation has become less of a concern after the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, offering Democrats relief and posing a challenge to Republicans as they formulate new strategies.