Looking Forward to the Midterm Elections
The coming year brings a great many things on the horizon: one of these being the midterm election. Two years after every presidential election the political mood of the country is tested by this election. It is a chance for the public to express how they are feeling with the President or ruling party. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to see if the incumbent party achieved what they set out to do during the campaign and if they are effective at governing. Political capacity goes quite a bit further if the President’s party has control of both the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, which is the case for the Republicans and President Trump.
Policies can be passed with less opposition in this type of cabinet because any criticism coming from the minority party can be largely ignored if the majority party can bring itself together enough to get the vote to pass. A vote does not need to be unanimous for something to get passed in the federal government that is why a party majority is so important. If the party cannot achieve their goals even with having a majority, it reflects very poorly on them. Thus the majority is extremely important and if often interrupted by the election.
The midterm election is not just for a majority in federal office. Many governors, mayors, and other local offices are elected during this time. Furthermore, the incumbent party of the President usually loses in the election because its a snapshot not only of what the citizens are thinking federally in regards to politicians and government but also what they are thinking locally. The loss of the president’s party during the midterm election has been a trend since the civil war even though every president campaigns heavily for the vote going in their favor (Gonyea). People are just wanting innovative leadership two years after they voted and it is common to blame the President for any policies that did not go their way.
Voter turnout is almost always lower in midterm elections than it is for presidential elections. While there are many factors to why that is, it is but most commonly it is because the people most motivated to go out and vote are those who are dissatisfied with the current political climate as well as the midterm elections gets less attention than presidential elections because they are not very centralized and thus draw less of a crowd. Also people have jobs they cannot or do not want to miss in the middle of the week, and finally people are not informed on who their representative is and what they are doing in their area. Even with these setbacks in the midterm election, it is still extremely important to the political process and 2018’s election will not be any different.
The country is going into the 2018 election extremely divided politically; the new found republicanism with Trump’s populist movement and the Tea Party is driving the GOP while the stagnated Democratic Party trying to pick up momentum through appealing to younger voters and updating policies to match that of their base. Furthermore, according the Fivethirtyeight, a poll aggregator, President Trump’s approval rating averages out to 38.8% which is drastically lower than any other president at this point in their term going all the way back to Harry Truman (Silver). The low of an approval rating will surely be felt by the Republican Party in the election if they do not distance themselves from the President or somehow raise his approval rating by the time the election comes. Approval ratings are not the only thing that can potentially foreshadow the outcome of the coming election. Gubernatorial, early senate retirement, and re election races around the country can be a telltale sign as well and all three examples have been seen in the past year.
Firstly, the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey are often credited with being the first major races to exemplify the mood of the country in the upcoming election because they’re held one year before the midterm election. In 2017, a Democratic candidate won in both states, giving the possible indication that the Democratic Party had gotten their footing back (Sides). Furthermore, a democrat took the senate seat in Alabama which hadn’t happened in about 25 years. Even though this race was under unusual circumstances with the Republican candidate being accused of sexual assault; it was a symbolic win for the Democratic Party. Finally, incumbent republican senators are not seeking reelection in Tennessee, Arizona, and Utah– which are primarily Republican states– paving the way for a possible Democratic win that was not likely before.
Although there is great evidence pointing towards an advantage for the Democrats going into 2018, the race isn’t over until the results are in. President Trump and the Republican party still have a powerful, and vocal base that supported them in 2016; and if they have the same type of political in 2016 general election, the Democratic party has reason to be worried. Furthermore, while political scientists and experts speculate and make election predictions, a lot can happen in a year. Trump’s approval rating can go up or Democrats don’t have a guarantee win in those generally Republican states. As this year unfolds and the political climate develops, it’s important to stay politically active; make sure to campaign for the candidate that you desire in office as well as go out and vote. Our democracy is what we make of it and we get to decide the outcome of these important elections to come.
Gonyea, Don. “The Devastating History Of Midterm Elections.” NPR.org, 30 Oct. 2014, https://www.npr.org/2014/10/30/360133533/the-devastating-history-of-midterm-elections.
Sides, John. “Analysis | 4 Important Takeaways from the Virginia Governor’s Race.” Washington Post, 8 Nov. 2017. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/11/08/4-important-takeaways-from-the-virginia-governors-race/.
Silver, Nate. “How Popular Is Donald Trump?” FiveThirtyEight, 2 Mar. 2017, https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/.