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After the Georgia runoff, what will the next two years of American politics look like?

Northwestern experts can comment on new Congress, future of democracy

Following the 2022 midterm elections — which will conclude on Tuesday, Dec. 6 with a Senate runoff election in Georgia — both Democrats and Republicans are regrouping. Republicans took control of the House by a small margin, but the “red wave” they expected did not materialize, and Democrats retained the Senate.

Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2024 despite ongoing investigations against him, and Joe Biden seems poised to run again as well, though he has made no formal announcement. Meanwhile, major questions about the future of American democracy remain unresolved, despite losses by most election-denying candidates in swing states.

Northwestern political scientists and law faculty are available to comment on the “state of play” as the new Congress is seated in January 2023. Below, they offer reactions to the midterms and thoughts about the future of American politics.

Laurel Harbridge-Yong is an associate professor of political science and a faculty fellow in Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research. Her research focuses on partisan conflict and the lack of bipartisan agreement in American politics. Her most recent book is “Rejecting Compromise: Legislators’ Fear of Primary Voters.” She can be reached at

Quote from Professor Harbridge-Yong

“At the federal level, the 2022 outcomes suggest a grim outlook for bipartisanship. Narrow majorities and a divided Congress provide incentives for messaging rather than governing, and primary election outcomes that favored Trump loyalists/the MAGA wing of the Republican party enhance divisions in Congress between the two parties.”

“However, there are also some reasons for optimism. Many Democratic candidates who won primaries campaigned as relatively more mainstream Democrats willing to work across the aisle, and some election reforms around the country may help more moderate candidates succeed and provide electoral incentives to work with the opposite party. The new Alaska system, which combines a top-4 primary and ranked choice voting in the general election, is one of these reforms.”

Alvin B. Tillery Jr. is a professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy. His research focuses on American political development, racial and ethnic politics and media and politics. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Tillery

“The elevation of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), long a rising star in the Democratic Caucus, to the position of minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives is a watershed moment in American politics. With his elevation, Rep. Jeffries becomes the first non-white and the first African American to lead a party caucus within Congress. Considering the facts that the U.S. Capitol Building was constructed with slave labor and that Congress was a fully segregated institution until 1965, Jeffries’ ascent is truly a historic moment.”

“Beyond its obvious symbolic value, the shift in Democratic leadership to a younger generation is significant because the 2022 midterm election results showed that voters under 50 powered the Democrats’ overperformance in the cycle. As the Millennial and Gen Z generations replace the more conservative Baby Boomer generation as the modal voters in American elections, it will be crucial for the Democrats to have a younger generation of leaders in place to represent them. Of course, none of these shifts will matter if the Democrats continue to get bad advice from an aging class of consultants and pollsters who still believe that the median swing voter is a middle-aged white man and urge them to adopt messages that suppress turnout among their core constituents — BIPOC voters and young people.”

James Druckman is the Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and fellow and associate director of Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research. His research focuses on political preference formation, communication and experimental methods. Druckman is a co-researcher of the Strengthening Democracy Project and The COVID States Project. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Druckman

“Our report shows that about a fifth of Americans do not trust the electoral process and that same number believes violent protests are sometimes justified. This is a reminder that even though the elections ran relatively smoothly, the future remains unclear as highlighted by most citizens not viewing electoral fairness as a particularly important issue (and thus there may not be sufficient government actions to further safeguard the process).”

Juliet Sorensen is a clinical professor of law at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. She is an expert on legal ethics, corruption and human rights and can discuss legal questions relating to the FBI’s seizure of documents from former president Trump’s Florida home and ongoing investigations by the Department of Justice against the former president. She can be reached by contacting Max Witynski at

Quote from Professor Sorensen 

“Donald Trump’s announcement of his candidacy for president in the 2024 election should not affect the Department of Justice’s ongoing criminal investigations of his actions related to the attempt to overturn the 2020 election results or his possession of classified and other government documents. The investigations commenced long before he declared his candidacy. There is no law that precludes investigating a presidential candidate whose conduct is potentially criminal.”