A panel of CNN journalists discussed next month’s midterm elections at the Jack Morton Auditorium last Wednesday.
The event was the second Citizen by CNN event held this semester in partnership with GW and journalists discussed midterm election topics like Hispanic voters and their influence, the consequences of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade and Donald Trump’s effect on the midterms. John King, an anchor and the chief national correspondent at CNN, led a conversation about the Nov. 8 elections with CNN colleagues Nia-Malika Henderson, Abby Phillip and Rachel Smolkin.
The panelists talked about the increasing importance of candidates targeting Latino voters. Over the past decade, the population of Latinos in the United States grew by 23 percent to about 62.1 million people and continues to rise.
King said Latino voters could significantly impact results in swing states with tight races. States like Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania are projected to have tightly contested Senate races this November that will decide which party gains control of the chamber in 2023.
“In Nevada, it’s the big constituency, especially in Clark County,” King said. “In other places, even when it’s only by three or four percent of the vote, if it’s a 50-50 contest, that’s enough.”
Henderson, a senior political analyst at CNN, said she felt the Democratic Party has overlooked Latino voters. Henderson said that Democrats often mistake how much they believe immigration as an issue matters to Latino voters.
“I think Democrats in some ways have taken Latinos for granted, in assuming that some of Donald Trump’s rhetoric would draw them to Democrats, some of his rhetoric around immigration,” Henderson said.
The group also discussed the effects of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in June on voter turnout and election results. The panelists also discussed the ways in which political campaigns are using the issue to drive turnout as Democrats focus on abortion in advertisements and speeches.
Rachel Smolkin, the senior vice president of global news for CNN Digital Worldwide, said the big motivators for voters continue to evolve through the election cycle. Smolkin said it is hard to predict what influence abortion will have in the midterms.
“This race has been so volatile this year,” Smolkin said. “It looked like abortion rights would be the big driver, then it looked like the economy and inflation would be the big driver and now maybe it’s crime.”
Abby Phillip, a CNN anchor and senior political correspondent, said Democrats are campaigning too much on abortion. Phillip said she thinks abortion is still important to voters, but not important enough to be the number one topic for Democrats to focus messaging on.
“It’s not going to be the issue that for most voters is going to decide how they cast their ballot,” Phillip said. “They have to shore up their economic messaging and cannot rely on abortion.”
The panelists talked about former President Donald Trump’s influence in the race, especially as he hints toward another presidential run in 2024.
Nia-Malika Henderson said Trump has a hand in the decisions regarding what Republicans are actually on the ballot.
The panel also spoke about the importance of voting to the attendees. They said young people are especially needed in the election, which is projected to be close.
“We need you and we need your fresh ideas, we need your interest in technology,” King said. “You’re the generation that is just naturally so much more tolerant and open minded than the generations that came before you.”