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Midterm Mania - Narrative Intelligence

July 29, 2022Evan Robert
Image by Element5 Digital

With midterm elections around the corner, U.S. media outlets have begun publishing hundreds of narratives surrounding several key topics. For the White House and the Democrats, much is at stake. In order to pass a majority of President Biden’s agenda, they need to increase the majority in the Senate to at least 51. Such a majority would diminish the power of moderate Democrat Joe Manchin, who has a track record of blocking bills and preventing progressive policy throughout the last two years. Democrats will also be trying to hold onto their majority in the House, as they have for the past four years.

For the Republicans, a majority in either the House or Congress would allow them to block most of the White House’s plans, and could weaken the re-election chances for the President. Early polls show that in the Senate, Republicans and Democrats are in tightly contested races across the board. Popular polling and political site, Five Thirty-Eight, has the odds of a Senate majority at 50 out of 100 for both parties. In the House of Representatives, projections lean more toward the Republicans with the odds at 85 out of 100 for a conservative majority.

Regardless of polls and projections, U.S. media is still churning out narratives covering every angle of the midterms, and this EdgeTheory narrative intelligence brief analyzes the most active trends associated with the upcoming elections.

This line graph tracks each term and the bar represents number of mentions.

The midterms narrative has been amplified by 432 unique sources, and has garnered 2,336 mentions over the last 7 days.

Despite the elections being months away, midterms are already a fixation for many outlets. Out of the top ten most popular keywords surfaced in U.S. media, six of them have to do with the ongoing January 6th investigation. The narrative brief found 1737 mentions of the term “U.S capitol” and 1591 mentions of “select committee”. While it is still unclear how much effect the committee’s finding will have on the outcome of the elections, it is currently the most popular topic associated with midterms.

total mentions of “midterms” by political bias

At face value, the top keywords might suggest more coverage from left-leaning outlets. The brief, however, saw a very even distribution from right- and left-leaning media.

Right-leaning sources saw some popular terms such as: “President Biden”, “Donald Trump”, “margin of error”, “stolen election”. In left-leaning sources, we see these terms: “Supreme Court”, “select committee”, “marriage equality” and “Senator Manchin”. This shows us that while the liberal sources are funneling narratives about SCOTUS and January 6th, the conservative news outlets are focused more on narratives about the 2020 election and Joe Biden’s low approval numbers.

Some of the most popular keywords are “Supreme Court” and “Roe V. Wade”. The origin of this trend likely points to a surge in Democrats polls after the recent Supreme Court decision and rumors that SCOTUS may be looking to overturn Obergefell V. Hodges (gay marriage) and Griswold V. Connecticut (contraceptives). It’s up for debate how the Supreme Court narratives will influence voter choice in November.

The midterm narratives are already a mainstay in public discussion, and we’re still months away from the elections. This narrative intelligence brief will automatically update as new stories emerge, so be sure to check back on a narrative that is sure to only grow as the elections grow closer.

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