Election 2022: What to watch for, what a GOP Congress might be like: 5 Things podcast

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On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Election 2022: What to watch for

USA TODAY national political reporter Phillip Bailey gives a preview. Plus, USA TODAY politcs reporter Ken Tran looks at what a GOP Congress might be like, and more.

Podcasts: True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know, Election Day, Tuesday, the 8th of November, 2022. Today what races to focus on as the future of the House and Senate will be decided. Plus, what would a GOP Congress look like? And there are more mass layoffs coming in the world of tech.

Election Day is finally here. Midterm races around the country will decide the future of the US House and Senate, while some states will decide a new governor among other races. For a look at which races to pay attention to, producer PJ Elliott spoke with USA TODAY national political correspondent Phillip Bailey.

Phillip Bailey:

Many presume that Republicans are going to win the House. So really a lot of the focus today is going to be on the US Senate, and that’s going to be Democratic incumbents like Raphael Warnock in Georgia, Democrat Mark Kelly in Arizona. One race in particular, that’s probably going to be one of the closest races that we’re all going to be paying attention to today is going to be in Pennsylvania between Dr. Oz and Lt. Governor John Fetterman. Fetterman’s been in the lead for most of this contest, but Dr. Oz has been slowly chewing away at that lead.

PJ Elliott:

Phillip, is there a sense that control of the Senate will go one way or the other? Or is there a chance that it remains evenly split?

Phillip Bailey:

For most of the year, prognosticators were saying the Democrats were favored to keep and retain the US Senate. That began to really change in October. Now a lot of prognosticators are saying, “Look, it’s a coin flip.”

PJ Elliott:

Philip, I just want to get some of your final thoughts of this election cycle as we hopefully know by the end of tonight, who will be in control of Congress for the next two years.

Phillip Bailey:

This is the first post-Trump election. Republican voters are very energized. You’re seeing polls showing the Democratic core voters are very unenthusiastic and disengaged in these midterms. I think there is a lot of anxiety about how are we going to administer this election. You have candidates who will accept the loss, will they deny the results? We’re in unchartered territory compared to previous elections where we sort of knew if one side loses, they admit the loss, they go to the next election. We’ve been arguing about the 2020 election for the past two years, but this is going to be a test of our democracy in these 2022 midterms.

Taylor Wilson:

For coverage throughout the day, stay with USATODAY.com.

Republicans are widely expected to take control of the House after today with the future of the Senate up in the air. So what would a Republican Congress look like? USA TODAY politics reporter Ken Tran considers in a piece out this week, and he joins me now.

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Ken, thanks for being here. You write in your piece that we might expect lots of investigations under a GOP Congress. What are we talking about?

Ken Tran:

The biggest thing that Republicans are really itching to do is investigate President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his financial dealings in Ukraine and China and compliance with tax laws. What they’re really questioning is whether or not Hunter Biden’s dealings have compromised the presidency. Does it influence Biden’s ability to lead? Does it influence his foreign policy decisions? They’re really curious about that. Another thing, too, the border is a big talking point for them. They really do want to investigate what’s happening at the southern border, the record migrant crossings. Possibly to see if Biden has failed in that aspect. They are going to aggressively investigate everything they already have criticized him on because the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is the most powerful investigative committee in the House.

Taylor Wilson:

All right, how about the big buzzword, “impeachment”? Would House Republicans try to impeach President Joe Biden?

Ken Tran:

We really don’t know, and that’s the weird thing. So a lot of Republican members are talking about it. Nancy Mace, Marjorie Taylor Greene, but we’re not sure what Biden would be impeached for, right? So far a possibility is could the Republican Congress impeach Biden for what comes out of the Hunter Biden investigation, if anything. They could possibly impeach him over the southern border. They could impeach him over the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Really anything that could justify impeachment they’re looking for. But also House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, positioned to become speaker, if they do take the house, has been really cautious about it. He’s told reporters multiple times that a Republican majority would not play politics with impeachment because it could potentially backfire. It’s a big deal, it’s going to make headlines. When Bill Clinton got impeached the following midterms, the Republicans lost congressional seats and his approval rating actually went up. So it’s something that you really do need to be careful with politically, and McCarthy seems to be aware of that.

Taylor Wilson:

All right. And how about what this might mean for the Far-Right in your piece? Ken, you mention a bigger platform for ultra conservatives.

Ken Tran:

Sure. So the House Freedom Caucus is really the big deal here. House Freedom Caucus is a caucus made up of some 30 members, made up of the most conservative lawmakers, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, who I just mentioned. She could potentially get a bigger platform because if Republicans do take the House, it’s likely to be a slim majority. It could be a blowout. But right now what analysts and experts are projecting is that it’ll be a win for them, maybe 10, 15, 20 seat majority. And like I said, the House Freedom Caucus is made of 30 members. So you do the math out, they could have significant leverage over what a speaker McCarthy could do. McCarthy already said right now, Marjorie Taylor Greene has no committee assignments because Democrats stripped her of those. But he’s said he’s been open to giving her back her committee assignments and she could potentially serve on the House Oversight Committee, for example.

Taylor Wilson:

Well, we’ll have to wait and find out. Ken, thanks for taking the time.

Ken Tran:

Thank you.

Taylor Wilson:

You can find Ken’s full story with a link in today’s show description.

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Voting laws in a number of states have changed since the 2020 presidential election. PJ Elliott spoke with USA TODAY national correspondent, Tami Abdollah, to find out more on how voting access has been limited during this year’s midterms.

Tami Abdollah:

In many states, and most of them are controlled by Republicans, it is more difficult to vote than it was two years ago. And there have been studies that have been done that found that making it harder to vote generally falls disproportionately impactful on people who are lower income Americans and people with disabilities, shift workers, those who have less flexibility in their day, and often those are people of color as well.

PJ Elliott:

Tami can you talk about some of the things that have been done around the US to restrict voting access?

Tami Abdollah:

In Mississippi voting in person is the only option on Election Day. In Texas, Florida, Georgia, they have restricted access to ballot drop boxes.

PJ Elliott:

What’s the reasoning for some of these states to lessen the accessibility for people to be able to cast their votes?

Tami Abdollah:

Many of the GOP controlled legislatures that have made these changes point to concerns about security. Voter access organizations, they have spoken to me about the necessity of making it as easy as possible for people to vote. They’ve also pointed to the fact that fraud is incredibly infrequent and rarely does it impact the outcome of an election.

Taylor Wilson:

Voter ID laws create obstacles for thousands of transgender voters and as USA TODAY reporter Cady Stanton tells us the barriers come amid anti LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation around the country.

Cady Stanton:

In a good number of states, there are voter ID laws that require you to present some form of formal identification in order to vote. And so that helps crosscheck with voter registration at the polls. So for transgender individuals, 43% of voting-eligible transgender people who live in states that conduct their elections primarily in person rather than by mail, they actually lack identity documents that correctly reflect their name or gender and as a result, can face obstacles to voting when they go to the polls. So it’s a good number of transgender voters, largely because there are so many hurdles to getting identification documents to accurately reflect gender identity and name changes when people transition. The reason this issue is particularly pressing in 2022 is because of a growing number of anti LGBTQ laws that have been passed in different states, as well as a number of candidates both in school board and local races and at the gubernatorial and federal level that are working on anti LGBTQ campaigns and platforms.

So, there are states that are focusing on trying to ban gender affirming care for LGBTQ youth as well as states that are pushing for schools to stop teaching LGBTQ related topics at multiple different levels. And the reason that this intersects so heavily with these voter ID laws is that many of the states with some of the strictest voter ID laws, these are laws that require photo identification, are also those that are considering a lot of this legislation that targets not only LGBTQ rights, but trans rights in particular. Some of those states include Arkansas, where the US District Court is currently hearing a trial on the state’s ban on gender affirming care, as well as in Kansas, where the gubernatorial race could decide laws on transgender youth participation in sports, among a couple of other issues.

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Something to consider with these voter ID laws is that they don’t impact all transgender voters in the same manner. Obviously they’re more strict in certain states, but transgender people who have other marginalized identities – including those who are people of color, those who are low income and those with disabilities – are overrepresented among those who may face barriers when they go to vote on Tuesday in the midterms. And it’s an important thing to consider because a lot of those voters already face other challenges, both with voter ID laws and things like affording trips to go vote in person and getting time off of work.

So for this story, I interviewed the CEO and executive director of Vote Riders, which is a nonpartisan non-profit that focuses on voting rights. And something that they advised is creating a personal plan for going to vote on Tuesday. And that’s one that includes making sure you have all of the documents that you would need to go vote, and also looking up what the specific rules and voter ID laws are in the state and the area that you’ll be voting. So that you can be prepared should you have to face any obstacles and know what contingencies might be, like having to cast a provisional ballot or taking other alternative measures.

Taylor Wilson:

You can find Katie’s full story in today’s show description.

Facebook’s parent company Meta is expected to become the latest tech giant to announce layoffs according to the Washington Post. That comes after Twitter, cut around half its staff after Elon Musk took over the company. And ride share app Lyft said it’ll cut more than a 10th of its staff. Apple and Amazon meanwhile reportedly ordered hiring freezes. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Meta layoffs could begin as soon as tomorrow. Meta is facing more competition for advertising dollars from rivals TikTok and others. The Post writes that Meta’s targeted advertising methods that were so successful for the company in the past took a hit with new privacy restrictions from Apple that ask users if app makers can track users’ activity across the internet. Meta’s layoff news comes after last Friday’s jobs report from the Labor Department showed that hiring stayed strong in October, but the unemployment rate did marginally rise from 3.5% to 3.7%.

Hey, if you’re up early listening with us this morning, you may have a chance to look outside for a lunar eclipse. This is the last one until 2025 and the eclipses totality begins at 5:17 AM Eastern time ending just before 6:45. You can find more on USATODAY.com.

And if you’re wondering if there’s a winner for that $1.9 billion Powerball jackpot, it’s delayed. That’s because one participating lottery needed more time to complete required safety protocols. It’s still not clear when the drawing will take place as of this morning.

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us every day of the year right here, wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks to our great team for their work on the show, and be sure to tune in tomorrow for a recap of Election Day. I’ll be here with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Races to watch this Election Day, thoughts on a GOP congress: 5 Things podcast