Republican, Democratic strategists debate October surprises for 2022 midterms

Strategists suggest the debate around abortion or a 2024 announcement from Trump could impact the outcome of the elections

There have been numerous October surprises throughout American history as it relates to elections, but whether this year's midterm elections – which are less than 100 days away – could be upended by a dominant news event is yet to be determined.

Strategists from across the political spectrum insist there are a few events or stories that could drive voters to the polls, or away from them, prior to the elections taking place.

Certain things like the debate over abortion, an announcement from former President Trump regarding his 2024 decision, or President Biden officially announcing re-election efforts have the potential to sway voters in the elections, strategists say.

To better understand whether there's potential for a prominent story or narrative to arise that could drive the news cycle and impact the upcoming midterm elections, Fox News Digital contacted political experts from both sides of the aisle to get their assessment.

'Vote Here' sign is seen at a precinct in Birmingham, Michigan, on August 1, 2022.

'Vote Here' sign is seen at a precinct in Birmingham, Michigan, on August 1, 2022. (REUTERS/Emily Elconin)

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Sarah Evangeline Norman, Democratic political strategist and senior advisor to digital for Kamala Harris’s 2020 presidential campaign:

"Anti-choice leaders have been on a roll, and now we’re going to see the consequences. Look at what happened in Kansas on August 2nd – in a state that went for Donald Trump by fifteen points in 2020, a ballot initiative to allow abortion bans was defeated by a two-to-one margin. The sheer margin means that at least one in five Republicans voted to protect abortion rights. In other words, the issue of abortion bans splits the Republican base, while uniting Democrats and most independents."

"We’re going to see more stories like this in October. We’re going to hear about children forced to give birth, and women who die because their doctors are afraid of facing felony charges if they perform a medically necessary abortion. Americans are going to be horrified by those stories, and by the callous reactions from Republican candidates. In an election year when Republicans were set to make strong gains, their success at repealing Roe is poised to pull the rug out from under them. The October 'surprise,’ in other words, isn’t actually surprising; it’s a tragic but inevitable consequence of a fifty-year Republican campaign to strip women of control over their own bodies."

Sarah Evangeline Norman, a Democratic political strategist and senior advisor to digital for Kamala Harris’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Sarah Evangeline Norman, a Democratic political strategist and senior advisor to digital for Kamala Harris’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Colin Reed, GOP strategist and co-founder of South and Hill Strategies who served as the former campaign manager to former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.:

"Less than 100 days before America votes, the strategy of both political parties is plain to see: frame the elections as a referendum on either the 45th or 46th presidents. To shift the conversation, Joe Biden will announce in October that he will not seek a second term in 2024."

"Sure, history says an announcement along these lines is more likely after November 8 – a political palate cleanser following a tough night for the party in charge. But clearing the decks in advance muddies the GOP’s efforts to frame candidates as Biden enablers. Yes, this news would instantly transform Biden into the lamest of lame ducks. In many ways, that label is already there. Members of his own party are urging the soon-to-be 80-year-old to step aside."

"The positive jobs report is not enough to offset soaring Inflation, interest rates and cost of back-to-school supplies. With releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve set to expire in October, gas prices could be moving in the wrong direction. Legislation on Capitol Hill – such as the new spending package or the American Innovation and Choice Online Act – threaten to make a bad situation worse."

Colin Reed, GOP strategist and co-founder of South and Hill Strategies who served as the former campaign manager to former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

Colin Reed, GOP strategist and co-founder of South and Hill Strategies who served as the former campaign manager to former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass. (South and Hill)

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Laura Fink, founder and CEO of Rebelle Communications:

"2022 isn’t the year of your dad’s October surprise. Late breaking hit pieces and damning media stories rarely come so late in the election cycle. With mail-in voting now established and popular, campaigns need to define their opposition earlier."

"This year, the most potent October surprise came early. In June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade – taking away a fundamental freedom from more than half the country. This government overreach into personal healthcare decisions ignited voters – doubling Kansas’ primary turnout from 2018. Kansans voted overwhelmingly to protect abortion rights and voters in swing districts and states across the country are poised to do the same this October when ballots drop and early voting begins."

"Draconian decisions like overturning Roe have the rare effect of both energizing Democrats AND persuading Independent and Republican swing voters – especially women – to cast a vote for candidates who would fight protect their most fundamental freedoms. These voters will bring an October surprise to extremist Republicans this fall."

Laura Fink, founder and CEO of Rebelle Communications

Laura Fink, founder and CEO of Rebelle Communications (Rebelle Communications)

Boyd Matheson, host of Inside Sources for KSL News Radio and former chief-of-staff to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah:

"After a tumultuous few years of pandemic, political division and civil strife predicting what may unfold as an ‘October surprise’ in the 2022 midterms is a most interesting proposition. The possibilities are endless but might include: an indictment of former president Donald Trump or his children, new revelations in the Hunter Biden probe, Democrats who funded far right candidates with hopes of easy November wins suddenly poised to lose big, Republicans snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as weak general election candidates implode, President Biden announcing he won’t run in 2024, or Former President Trump announcing he will run."

"Sadly, there are few things that surprise anyone anymore when it comes to politics. I may be hoping against hope, but I will hold out for a surprise fall focus – not on what was, or even what is, but on what is next for the nation."

"An honest conversation with the American people about real issues would be both a stunning and pleasant October surprise. I actually believe whoever leads that conversation – wins."

Boyd Matheson, host of Inside Sources for KSL News Radio and former chief-of-staff to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Boyd Matheson, host of Inside Sources for KSL News Radio and former chief-of-staff to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. (Boyd Matheson)

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Lauren Claffey Tomlinson, Republican strategist and president of Claffey Communications:

"When we think of October surprises, we generally think of presidential campaigns and the high likelihood of salacious opposition research to be dumped right before the election. With the midterms this year, I’d expect our October surprise to be a bit more macro. The number one issue on voters’ minds right now is inflation and the rising costs of goods and services. It trumps abortion, healthcare, gun violence – everything."

"What could disrupt these voters’ inclination to return power to the Republicans? An announcement by former President Trump that he will seek reelection could give these voters who moved away from Trump a reminder of why they voted Democrat in 2020 and 2018. A major threat to the country’s national security (specifically a direct attack on Americans) and a competent response by the Biden Administration could overcome inflation concerns. Or a harsh turn into a recession come October could push these voters further into Republican arms."

Lauren Claffey Tomlinson, Republican Strategist and President of Claffey Communications

Lauren Claffey Tomlinson, Republican Strategist and President of Claffey Communications (Claffey Communications)

Kristen Hawn, ROKK Solutions partner, former communications director and chief political advisor to the Blue Dog Coalition:

"It wouldn’t be an October surprise if we could predict it! One thing we know for certain is that inflation and the economy is at the top of voters’ concerns headed into the midterm elections. That is true for Democrats, Republicans and registered Independents. The thing that is yet to be seen is how some of the issues that were not at the top of the list for voters 6 months ago will impact voter turnout - namely gun violence and protecting a woman’s right to choose."

"So many polls focus solely on what voters care about, but the more important question is what do voters care about so much that they will turnout in a year when the presidency is not on the ballot. The prevailing sentiment is that Republicans will wrestle away control of at least one - if not both - chambers of Congress from the Democrats this year. But if gas prices continue to fall, the Democrats continue to put bipartisan wins on the board, and the President’s approval ratings rise, come October the Republicans may face some headwinds they were not expecting a few short weeks ago."

Kristen Hawn, ROKK Solutions partner, former communications director and chief political advisor to the Blue Dog Coalition.

Kristen Hawn, ROKK Solutions partner, former communications director and chief political advisor to the Blue Dog Coalition. (ROKK Solutions)

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The comments provided to Fox News Digital in this article are part of a weekend series in which strategists from across the political spectrum are asked the same questions related to political hot topics and are provided with an opportunity to offer their perspective.