By Timmy Curry, Clarion Staff
For those of you who don’t follow politics, a midterm is not a test you take midway through a semester. It’s a Congressional election that takes place in an off year, the election held between presidential elections. The next midterm election occurs this year and there will be a battle between our two major political parties as they compete for a majority in Congress.
The Republican Party currently controls both Houses of Congress, the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as the presidency. This phenomenon informs most analysts a greatdeal based on historical trends. The President’s party generally loses seats in Congress during a midterm election. The only recent break in this trend was in the 2002 midterms, when 9/11 was fresh in the minds of the public.
An example of this occurred during the 2014 midterms, when an energized Republican base turned out to increase Republican seats in the House and Senate while most Democrats stayed home. This was a stark comparison to the previous election when Obama won the office during a Presidential year with enthusiastic Democratic voters.
This year with a Republican president it’s reasonable to expect the party not in control of the White House will be more energized to show up to the polls during the midterm elections.
In this midterm the Republican majority in the Senate holds a slim 51-49 majority. This means Democrats need only two seats in the Senate to regain control of the upper chamber. There are exactly two seats that are seriously endangered. The Republican Senator in Nevada, Senator Heller, is unpopular with Democrats. Also, Nevada has become a state that has been turning blue in the last decade. The other Senate Seat up for grabs is in Arizona where Senator Flake has decided to retire. Without an incumbent, a politician running for reelection, Arizona could go either way due to the demographic makeup of the state.
These two Senate seats could potentially be offset by 10 Democratic Senate seats in states won by President Trump in the 2016 election. Some of these states are traditionally conservative, including North Dakota, Montana, and Missouri. Most of these 10 states are not expected to be competitive due to the previous midterm trends, yet a few Republican increases could occur.
The House of Representatives is also up for the taking. All 435 members of this body are running for election. Democrats need to gain at least 25 seats in order to regain control from the Republicans. The House of Representatives is much harder to predict the direction in which it will go because there are so many districts. According to the fivethirtyeight.com database, most polls show Democrats have a seven to nine point lead when averaged for this election in an average toss-up race.
There are other factors as well that could contribute to one party gaining control of the House including more than 30 Republican incumbents are retiring this year or have retired in 2017. This could be an indication that many see a “blue wave” coming in 2018 similar to Republican showings in previous midterms like 2014 or 2010 when the Democrats controlled the White House.
In California there are many pressing elections going on that affect the people of our state during the midterms. The Senate primary where Senator Feinstein, serving since 1992, is facing a few primary challengers from her left. These opponents claim she does not represent the progressive view of a state like California. Feinstein’s main opponent is the current California State Senate President Kevin De León. According to the Sacramento Bee, his supporters believe he represents California in a more Progressive way, due to his stances on issues such as immigration and healthcare. Although Feinstein still leads comfortably in most polls, most likely due to name recognition and incumbency, a September 2017 poll from the Public Policy Institute of California showed that less than half of likely voters wanted her to run for reelection.
The other local race that is noteworthy is Representative Ami Bera’s campaign for reelection. His district is located in Eastern Sacramento County and Elk Grove, with his being one of the more competitive districts in the area. (See The Clarion article published Dec 18, 2017 “Representative Ami Bera Visits Kennedy Government Students”)
The Clarion editors encourages all eligible voters to participate in these upcoming elections, both the party primaries and general elections. Voting is a sacred right and gift, that we might enjoy as American citizens, and with such power comes responsibility on our behalf.
We must use our power to vote carefully, using it as a tool for advocacy and liberty. Midterms tend to have some of the lowest voter participation rates with the 2014 general election midterm having the lowest participation since World War II, so let this be a call to action for Kennedy students to vote and change the world they live in.