The Importance of the Midterm Elections
Whether you’re a hardened political junkie or simply tune in every November, this year’s midterm elections are crucial. 35 Senate seats are up for grabs, as are 435 House seats. In addition, most states hold gubernatorial elections.
The election comes after a series of decisions from the Supreme Court that have impacted abortion rights, gun control and immigration. And history shows that the president’s party usually loses seats in midterms.
What are the midterms?
Midterm elections are when voters choose their congressional representatives and weigh in on ballot measures. They’re typically more low-key than presidential election years, but the results have a huge impact on the country.
The winning party’s control of Congress determines whether the President’s legislative agenda moves forward. Historically, the party in power loses seats during midterms.
This year, all 435 House seats are up for grabs, and 35 Senate seats are at stake in 34 states. In addition, 36 states are choosing governors and many local offices are also on the ballot.
Voters are divided on who they prefer to see in office, with about a third of registered voters leaning toward a candidate outside their political party. Voters with college degrees are more likely to say that partisan control of Congress really matters to them. But they are no more likely to say that they’ve given it a lot of thought than those without a college degree.
Why are they important?
In addition to determining which members of Congress will represent their district, 36 states hold gubernatorial elections in midterm general elections. These top executive offices wield a significant amount of power, from approving and vetoing laws to appointing cabinet and judicial leaders to oversee state agencies.
While the president’s name is not on the ballot, the performance of his administration is a major factor in the election’s results. Historically, the party of the sitting president loses seats in the House and Senate in midterm elections.
In 2022, Democrats hope to retain control of both chambers so they can keep up their agenda on climate change, gun-control and government-run healthcare programmes. However, if Republicans retake control of the Senate, they could block those initiatives and grind investigations into the coronavirus pandemic and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan to a halt. Moreover, they would have the power to approve presidential nominees for federal courts and key government positions.
How are they different from the presidential election?
The midterm elections are important because control of the House and Senate is up for grabs. The President’s party also typically loses seats in the midterm elections, a fact that has been true for every president since World War II. That can thwart legislative goals that the President and Biden want to pursue.
Unlike the presidential election, where voters choose their electoral college picks, in the midterms, voters are voting for candidates and ballot measures. They can also cast votes for a slate of electors who are pledged to vote for specific candidates in the Electoral College.
Historically, voters are younger and more diverse in midterm elections, while older and whiter in presidential elections. That might be one reason why the incumbent President’s party usually loses seats in the midterms.
What are the outcomes?
With all 435 seats in the House and 35 of 100 Senate seats at stake, the elections will have a major impact on the nation’s policy. But the outcome will be shaped as much by local concerns and national events as it is by the candidates.
In fact, as the midterms unfold we are seeing some interesting trends. The AP’s own data shows that historically the party of the sitting President has suffered significant losses in the midterms.
That is true even when the President’s approval rating is high, as it is now. Nevertheless, it may take days or even weeks for the final results to become clear. That is because of how state laws govern how ballots are counted. In some states like California, ballots aren’t counted until they arrive at election headquarters, and that could skew the initial results. It might take even longer in races where a run-off is required. That is the case in both Georgia’s Senate race and Vermont, where Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria lost to Republican Sen. Ralph Warnock.