The midterm elections are tomorrow. Are you ready? What are the midterms exactly?
The midterms occur at the two-year mark out of a president’s four-year term. Historically, the president’s party has lost seats during this election, especially in the president’s first term. The midterms can be a statement on the president and the president’s party.
The elections affect both the House and Senate, with many seats up for grabs this year. If the Republican party retains control of its current majority in one or both houses, this would preserve the party’s power and its ability to implement policies in its vision. If the Democratic party gains a majority in one or both houses, this would curtail the Republicans’ power and allow the Democrats to put up roadblocks and obstruct the Trump agenda specifically, and the Republican agenda generally.
Although voter turnout for midterm elections has typically been lower than for presidential elections, they are no less important. Most people believe that this country is at a critical junction, regardless of which side of the aisle. The current election cycle is very interesting and relevant to those internationally. The rest of the world is watching this election. To paraphrase, if the midterms show that voters want Republicans in office to promote Trump’s agenda, then it shows that Trump’s election was not a fluke. It shows that voters acted on principle and can’t be dismissed as a one-time unusual, unexplainable occurrence.
Internationally, the elections can be a mixed bag. In the UK for instance, the “America First” slogan doesn’t seem to leave a lot of room for cooperation. However Brits who supported Brexit can empathize with the slogan’s sentiment. On the contrary in China, Trump may have been seen as a no-nonsense negotiator but Trump’s recent posturing on trade with China may not do him favors.
We have heard a lot about the supposed “blue wave” which might occur on Tuesday. Much debate and discussion ponders what this wave might look like and how strong it will be. The “blue wave” by description is enmeshed in certain key issues of interest like impeachment of Trump, the Russia probe, and impeachment of Justice Kavanaugh. It’s also enmeshed in identity politics– for example women and African Americans are expected to contribute to the blue wave. Let’s look at some of these individually.
For impeachment of Trump, it appears from polling that this is much less of a sticking point with voters. Most think that even if Democrats win a majority in the House, they don’t want to see impeachment proceedings. One could venture to guess that the more extreme factions of the Democrats are pushing impeachment.
With regard to Russian election interference and collusion, public opinion of this investigation also seems to be losing steam. It is no longer important to voters, is viewed as a costly distraction, and is not a central issue of the midterm election.
Identity politics plays a key issue in how this election is being framed. For example, it is well publicized that record numbers of female candidates are on tickets across the country this election cycle. In fact, it is emphasized that outside of candidates, women in general are turning out in record numbers in assisting with campaigns, activism, and voting. 2018 has been termed the “Year of the Woman.”
We know that our president and his policies have been very polarizing. Women are a very large and diverse group. The “blue wave” foresees that most women’s natural instinct is to “vote their conscience” and decide that enough is enough with Trump. There is little understanding that Trump has a large, enthusiastic female base and little thought as to why they might support him.
What about black voters? Identity politics once again groups them into one homogenous voting bloc. There are many claims of the recent mobilization among black voters. A cited example is the role they played in Senator Doug James’s victory against Roy Moore in the Alabama special election which led to Alabama’s first Democratic Senator in 25 years. We also know that record numbers of African American candidates are running in this cycle.
There has been a large push by black business interests as well. One notable organization is called the Black Economic Alliance which consists of business executives who are spending millions on campaigns. The group is officially nonpartisan, but as of November 5, 2018, all of the twenty-six candidates named on its website are Democrats and include familiar names like Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, Tim Kaine, and Beto O’Rourke.