Will There Be a Hype Around the 2022 Midterm Election?
It all started when Olivia Herrera posted a far-fetched TikTok about Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Herrera theorized that Biden would choose Warren as his vice president. The video received more than half a million likes in less than three days.
Herrera took it as a sign to begin posting educational political content on TikTok daily.
“I want to ensure that Gen Z understands that the presidential election is important, but midterm elections are just as important,” she said.
Her TikToks caught the attention of Matthew Rein, founder of The Dem Hype House. Rein invited Herrera to join The Dem Hype House, one of the many politically active groups on the app. Since its founding in April of 2020, the Dem Hype House has grown to 11 political creators advocating for the left-wing with over 200,000 followers and nine million total likes.
Herrera is a part of the dozens of political groups, and hundreds of creators, who used TikTok for political activism during the presidential election– and they are ramping up for the 2022 midterm election.
The Biden-Harris victory was a sigh of relief, however, Herrera realizes the work has only just begun.
2022 will be the first midterm election to take place since the app’s wide popularity with users. While turnout in midterm elections has historically been low, especially among young voters, political creators on TikTok will see if their outreach to politically engage Gen Z has succeeded.
Eric Schickler, a political science professor at the University of California Berkeley, said he does not anticipate voter turnout in 2022 to be as high as 2020. While the 2018 turnout rate was higher than preceding years, Schickler says he’s unsure if the Biden Administration will create the same political momentum.
“There’s certainly a tendency to have a let down after a high salience, high visibility election,” Schickler said.
Schickler considers voter outreach on TikTok an important method of mobilizing and organizing people who are not habitual voters. However, it is going to take more than TikTok advocacy to win an election.
“The lack of in-person canvassing by Democrats this past cycle due to the pandemic… is why the Democratic turnout was disappointing compared to Republicans,” Schickler said.
While Democrats must reconsider their campaigning strategies, Schickler believes Republicans need to address the past presidency, in order to win in the future.
“The big question for Republicans going forward is to what extent candidates other than Trump are able to turn out voters,” said Schickler.
Although TikTok will only be one of the many factors that impact voter turnout, political creators have quite the influence. Less than three percent of Americans receive their news from TikTok. But the same can’t be said for Gen Z. A YPulse survey reported that 51% of Gen Z use TikTok to obtain their news.
Political groups, such as The Democratic Hype House and The Republican Hype House are two prominent accounts that have become the political commentators of their respective parties.
Although both groups are beginning to plan their voter engagement through TikTok, their strategies are rather different.
Rein wants to use TikTok to educate users and ensure Democrats maintain their congressional control in 2022. “It’s about using our platform to direct people to candidates, resources, or campaigns,” Rein said. The Dem Hype House plans to continue to motivate voters who are politically fatigued from the 2020 election.
“The work continues and it doesn’t end. We have to fight for a better future for all of us,” Rein said.
Although the Republican Hype House has over one million followers, and the Dem Hype House has over two hundred thousand, the Republican Hype House realizes the great amount of work that lies ahead.
Bo Alford, a member of the Republican Hype House, has become one of the biggest conservative creators of the app. Alford wants to contribute to the expansion of conservative voices on TikTok. He takes a rather analytical approach to TikTok’s algorithm.
“Every view is a potential voter,” Alford said.
Alford’s goal is to sway undecided voters on the app through his personal account and with the Republican Hype House. Although Alford is motivated to contribute to the Republican party’s goals, he worries about how the 2022 midterm election will unfold.
“I want to step up to the plate and make as much of an impact as possible. People our age do not understand how important they are right now. We are the future.”
*covered in June 2021