• Press Release

MEMO: Our Impact in the 2022 Midterms

November 7, 2022

November 7, 2022

TO: Interested Parties
Re: Our Impact in the 2022 Midterms

Following the so-called Year of the Woman in 2018 and the groundbreaking wins in 2020, Democrats entered this cycle facing a number of challenges and predictions of a large red wave. 

EMILYs List also entered the cycle in a period of leadership transition, in a search for only our third president in the organization’s history. While our mission – to elect Democratic pro-choice women – remains the same, throughout this cycle, we have welcomed Laphonza Butler, the first woman of color and first mom to lead the organization, and have rolled out a new brand. That brand centers around a new tagline – a statement that guides our work: Run. Win. Change the World. At EMILYs List, we are reminded of the importance of our work to elect Democratic pro-choice women every time we contrast the leadership of the women we fight for every day to the Republicans in office and on the bench who have stripped our rights and sought to divide us.

As we have faced these challenges and transitions, EMILYs List remains the nation’s largest resource for women in politics. This cycle, we raised $100 million and spent $102 million for the purpose of electing and building power for Democratic pro-choice women. Below, you will find the details of that work and of the women we are proud to support.

A Leader in the Electoral Fight for Abortion Rights

There has never been a more important moment to elect Democratic pro-choice women to office. When the Supreme Court agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we knew we had to be prepared for the fall of Roe v. Wade. As the Court declined to intercede in Texas while Republicans banned abortion and created a bounty system to target access, EMILYs List partnered with Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and others to unpack the impact of abortion restrictions on the electoral environment in the midterms. 

Opinion Research: As the experts on women voters and women candidates, we knew that the Republican rollback of rights could be a gamechanger for Democrats in the midterms. We worked with leading opinion researchers to develop the best lines of attack against Republicans. We used that research to help guide Democratic messaging up and down the ticket, briefing candidates, party committees, ad makers, partner organizations, and influencers. We used that research to help create the most favorable electoral dynamic for Democrats that we could, building Democratic enthusiasm and persuading soft partisan voters. And we’ve seen the progress: Democrats have erased the Republican enthusiasm gap, won in Kansas, and put our Republican opponents on their back foot. Nearly all of the high-profile races across the country are tied.

For more than a year, we have seen abortion gain saliency in the midterms as Republicans have continued to overstep and celebrate Americans losing a constitutional right. Post-Texas’ SB8, we found we faced a believability gap in whether battleground state voters believed abortion bans were coming. When we polled after the draft decision in the Dobbs case was leaked, just eight months after Texas, we found that among pro-choice voters abortion had increased in vote salience by double digits. That was true among persuadable voters as well, while it had decreased in salience among anti-choice voters. When the court overturned Roe, we went back into the field. We found that now fully 75% of battleground voters believed Republicans would try to pass a national abortion ban. Nearly half of battleground voters reported Republicans being out of step with them. In that poll, Democrats had closed the enthusiasm gap with Republicans and had taken the lead on the generic ballot. 

Messaging and Training: Knowing the importance of this issue to anyone who needs care and to voters for the election, EMILYs List worked with our allies to operationalize this research. We shared broadly with partners, consultants, and other allies. We held message trainings with state caucuses and state legislative candidates and talked through best practices with state parties and other groups. We issued two updates to our Conversation Guide, done in partnership with All* Above All, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and Voto Latino. 

We have worked for much of this cycle to center this issue in our electoral work. In May, we joined with Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America to announce that the three groups would work together to raise and spend a record $150 million to impact this issue electorally. As part of that effort, we have continued to provide trainings and outreach to Democratic allies. Our three organizations have created a war room to help keep the fight for abortion rights in the news and help arm pundits, talkers, and others with key news and facts.

Tour: This summer, EMILYs List also launched our Run. Win. Change the World. Tour, which took our leadership to key states and events that highlighted the importance of meeting our mission in order to protect our rights. From standing in North Carolina with state legislators and Gov. Roy Cooper to urge voters to prevent a GOP supermajority, to talking to the Colorado Legislative Black Caucus about the need for representation, to events with union leaders, college students, and more, our tour went to 19 states and amplified the campaigns of more than 80 EMILYs List endorsed candidates.

EMILYs List Endorsed Candidates: Powerful Women Changing the Face of Government

In the 2021-22 cycle, EMILYs List continued our work to elect Democratic pro-choice women up and down the ballot and across the country. Given the continued GOP assault on our voting and reproductive rights, we are particularly engaged in the offices that may be most important to protecting our rights and our democracy: legislative offices at the state and federal level, as well as governors, attorneys general, and secretaries of state. In order to get the best use of our resources, we were especially focused on several states with significant races that could protect our Senate and House majorities, had key legislative or statewide races, and were presidential battleground states. Those states included Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, and New Hampshire.

Having helped elect more than 1,500 women over the course of our history, we look forward to electing and reelecting even more this cycle. This cycle, EMILYs List has endorsed nine women for U.S. Senate, including four for reelection, 64 women to protect our majority in the U.S. House, including 26 for reelection, 13 women for governor, including five for reelection, 12 women for lieutenant governor, eight for attorney general, nine for secretary of state, 12 for other statewide offices, 487 for state legislature, 33 for mayor, and 59 for other offices. More than 40% of the women we endorsed this cycle were women of color and nearly 10% are LGBTQ+.

Our fight for representation doesn’t stop at changing the gender balance of government. Our belief that government works best when it looks like and can speak from experience for the people it represents means that we have prioritized electing women from underrepresented communities. This is not new ground for EMILYs List, but as we consider the fact that no Black women serve in the Senate or have ever been governor of a state, that only one Latina has ever served in the Senate, that the first indigenous women ever elected to House were in the last few years and none has served as governor or in the Senate, that AAPI women are targeted more and more in the COVID-19 era, that LGBTQ+ women and even children are being actively targeted by many GOP governments, we understand the urgency of that cause. 

As always, we are proud to stand with women who break new ground in office. We’ve already helped elect many historic firsts this cycle, including Tishaura Jones, the first African American woman to be mayor of St. Louis, Rita Ali as the first woman or person of color to be mayor of Peoria, Illinois, as well as the first Muslim women to serve on the Boston and New York City Councils, the first Asian American and Muslim woman to serve in the New Jersey Legislature and the first Hispanic elected official in St. Petersburg, Florida. We were proud to support the election of the only Black women currently in the California and Massachusetts State Senate – and this November, we are supporting two women, Val Demings and Cheri Beasley, who would be the only Black women in the U.S. Senate and the first Black senators to serve from either of their states. This November, we hope to elect the first lesbian governors with Tina Kotek and Maura Healey and the first Black women governors with Stacey Abrams and Deidre DeJear. Massachusetts and Ohio have the opportunity to elect the first all-women tickets in their governor and lieutenant governor races. And these are just a few of the women who could make history this Election Day.

Supporting Candidates from Recruitment to Election Day and Beyond

EMILYs List is proud to be the only organization that works with candidates at all levels of the ballot from the start of their career well past Election Day. That means everything from recruitment to direct candidate and campaign support, from bundling and donations to independent expenditures. Our work is aimed at leveling the playing field for Democratic pro-choice women because we know that when they have a fair shot, they can win and change the world. 

This cycle, we built on our foundation of giving women the tools they need to run and win by expanding our team, our resources, and our training programs for candidates. 

Recruitment, Training, and Building the Bench: We continued our successful Ignite Change Fellowship program this cycle, working with activists and advocates on developing their political skills and confidence in potentially running for office. Through the program, EMILYs List develops fellows’ leadership and campaign skills through training, mentorship, and relationship building. The program accepts 30 people to the fellowship to create a cohort of deeply committed fellows. We were thrilled to endorse our first fellow in a run for Minnesota legislature, Zaynab Mohamed. If elected, Mohamed would become one of the first Black women and the youngest woman in the Minnesota state Senate. We continued to provide training resources online, making our Training Center lessons and worksheets available for anyone, as well as providing ongoing content and tools for the more than 68,000 women in our Run to Win community. We also launched two new training programs to help push back against the devastating Dobbs decision. Our Frontline Defenders: Champions for Reproductive Freedom series designed to build participants’ skills to effectively run for office in states that face some of the biggest threats to abortion rights like Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina. These workshops provided opportunities for deeper participation, community building, and real-time feedback from EMILYs List trainers. The interactive virtual workshops included pre-work, homework, time for discussion, question & answer, and practice within the sessions. And in response to the Supreme Court sending the abortion rights decisions back to the states, we created a Run for State Legislature training series — a five-week virtual training initiative geared toward those who are thinking about running for state legislature. The series featured weekly assignments, a virtual training, networking discussions, and an opportunity to meet one-on-one with a member of the EMILYs List team. 

Candidate Support and Services: EMILYs List works with many candidates even before their endorsement to help them build the best campaign and overcome the inherent challenges women can face running for office. While work for each candidate varies, we have helped our candidates build budgets, hire staff and consultants, develop campaign plans, do media trainings and prep sessions, and more. And we stay engaged, providing continued advice and guidance, engagement, prep, and more, in addition to lifting our candidates up to donors, social media, and the press. To help that process, we expanded our candidate services team to include more communications and digital assistance.

Fundraising and Bundling: When Ellen Malcolm launched EMILYs List in 1985, candidates often had to rely on big donors and the establishment to raise the money they needed – which is why EMILYs List and its bundling of small donors was so groundbreaking and vital to our candidates’ successes. Even as social media allows us to share content from candidates in all sorts of offices across the country and ActBlue and other tools make it easier for small-dollar donors to make a huge difference, bundling is still an important value EMILYs List can add to a campaign. We are proud to offer a guide to our five million members and supporters on the candidates who can change the world, and we are proud to offer our help through direct and bundled donations. This cycle, EMILYs List gave nearly $5.5 million in direct contributions to our endorsed candidates and bundled more than $10.8 million for those candidates. 

WV! Engagement in Races: This year, the EMILYs List independent expenditure arm, Women Vote, leaned heavily on our depth of knowledge in communicating with women voters and messaging on women’s health. We drove the opinion research with key spenders across the country and up and down the ballot. We reviewed plans, poll drafts, ad scripts, mailers, and digital ads to weaponize the Republican position on abortion to help position as many races as possible to win if we can drive record breaking turnout again. 

As rights were stripped away across the country, we invested to protect democracy and abortion access both in the states and in DC. We spent nearly $34 million on independent expenditure programs, with 40% spent on women of color. Women Vote ran dozens of polls, 43,000 gross rating points of TV, 30 million digital impressions, robust Black and Latino radio programs, and sent more than 600,000 voters mail. While our candidates’ campaigns worked hard to tell their stories, highlight their legislative accomplishments like the child tax credit and the stimulus, and defend themselves against the untruthful attacks on crime and immigration, we worked hard to define the Republicans. 

In Nevada, we worked quickly to define Adam Laxalt on abortion immediately after his primary. He tried to hide his position and the Nevada Republicans obfuscated the stakes of the election for voters, arguing neither the governor or a U.S. senator had a role in abortion access policy. We ran television, digital and mail programs to explain his position and the stakes of abortion access to Nevada voters.

In North Carolina, Ted Budd doubled down on his anti-abortion position. While we were up on television week after week defining the stakes for North Carolina women, Budd continued to vote against the interests of North Carolina women in Congress, even co-sponsoring a national abortion ban.

In New Mexico, we worked within the state-based groups including labor, environmental and community groups to help drive an effective persuasion campaign on Ronchetti’s habit of misleading voters about abortion. While Ronchetti tried to tell New Mexicans the governor has no power over abortion access, we let them know he’d ban abortion if he had the chance.

In Kansas, we launched a robust digital program in the wake of the Kansas ballot initiative to define Amanda Adkins as out of step with Kansasans on the issue of abortion. Adkins supported the amendment and supported overturning Roe v. Wade.

Turning Out Women Voters

A diverse coalition of women voters changed the electorate after Donald Trump was elected. In 2018, these women helped EMILYs List win back the House with Democratic pro-choice women. In 2020, they propelled Biden and Harris into the White House. Representing as much as 57% of the electorate in battleground states, these women are driving Democratic wins. 

While it’s impossible for us to predict turnout, there are some key indicators. One input into the conventional wisdom that Democrats were going to lose everything this midterm cycle is turnout. Historical precedent shows that typically the out-of-power party’s voters are more motivated to vote. That’s typically true because they’re unhappy and they want change. You know who is unhappy and motivated to make their voices heard right now? Women across the country. Early indicators of midterm turnout show that: the special election in NY-19 in which the Democrat outperformed Biden, the Kansas ballot initiative results, the gender gap in new registrations in key states across the country. 

In terms of Democratic support, our battleground research and candidate-specific research show increased motivation for women voters and increased Democratic vote support when we message on abortion. That’s why we have spent time, resources, and independent expenditures defining our candidates and their opponents on this critical issue. 

In addition, EMILYs List is proud to have joined key partners in two coalitions working to turn out voters Democrats will need to overcome expectations this cycle. Defend the Future is a coalition of groups including Voto Latino, March for Our Lives, the NAACP, HRC, APIA Vote, When We All Vote, The Leadership Conference and Planned Parenthood Action Fund aimed at turning out young voters. We are also a part of Supermajority’s Women Are Voting coalition with 50 partner organizations, which has contacted 27 million voters and counting.

Both history and current indicators offer dire warnings about this cycle, and the actions of Republicans, who have trampled our rights and undermined our democracy, provide us an even more devastating look at what could come if we lose. At EMILYs List, we are proud to stand with and dedicate our time and resources to the women who will fight these efforts and stand up for all of us. 

EMILYs List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, works to elect Democratic pro-choice women up and down the ballot and across the country with a goal of fighting for our rights and our communities. Our work is centered around a fundamental vision: Run. Win. Change the World. EMILYs List has raised over $700 million in service to that vision and has helped Democratic women win competitive elections by recruiting and training candidates, supporting and helping build strong campaigns, researching the issues that impact women and families, running one of the largest independent expenditure campaigns for Democrats, and turning out women voters to the polls. Since our founding in 1985, we have helped elect the country's first woman as vice president, 159 women to the House, 26 to the Senate, 16 governors, and nearly 1,400 women to state and local office. More than 40% of the candidates EMILYs List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color. Visit www.emilyslist.org for more information.