Today, millions of Americans will head to the ballot box to cast their votes for the midterm elections. As voting commences, Dr. Trey Orndorff, associate professor of political science at Oklahoma Christian University, and junior political science student, Jack Manry, answer various questions about the midterm’s basics.
What are midterms?
Every two years between a President’s term, a third of the Senate and all 425 members of the House of Representatives go up for election.
“These elections are important because they determine control over Congress, even if they have no impact on the presidency,” Orndorff said. “For most individuals, the composition of Congress is more important to their lives than who is sitting in the White House.”
What outcome is expected?
“Historically, the trend is clear: the party who does not hold the White House picks up seats in Congress,” Orndorff said. “We can see from polling data that inflation and economic issues are top concerns in this cycle. That is a benefit to Republicans. And when you look at local polling data in the aggregate, Republicans are easily posed to take the House, and they have slightly better than a coin-toss at retaking the Senate.”
How might that affect the rest of Biden’s presidency?
“Biden, like most presidents on the back half of their term, will face a divided Congress,” Orndorff said. “In his first two years, he faced a completely tied Senate, which made it hard for him to pass his agenda. Moving forward, he will either lose the House or both the House and the Senate.”
What outcome do you hope for and why?
“I’m registered as a Republican, so I’m going to be hoping for a Republican-controlled Senate and House. It seems that’s pretty much what we’re going to get, and I’d argue it’s what we need right now,” Manry said. “We have out of control inflation, and a lot of it is driven by government spending at the moment. (…) Treasury.gov reports about $6.27 trillion dollars in spending for this fiscal year; we’ve only collected $4.90 trillion.”
How might those reading this article be affected by midterms?
“I would tell you to consider where you want your state or country to be when you graduate,” Manry said. “We are insulated from a lot of volatility here in a university, but you will eventually leave. When you do, you’re going to need a job, you’re going to need to start your career and you’re going to need to drive to a lot of places. When you go to vote in these midterms, keep that in mind.”
How does voting work for midterms?
Voting for the Senate is different from voting for the House of Representatives.
“House members are elected in districts drawn by state legislatures in a winner takes all contest of the popular vote inside that district,” Orndorff said. “(Meanwhile), not all Senators are up: each state can have a maximum of one Senatorial seat up for grabs, and a third of the total Senate goes up for reelection every two years. Senators are elected by the popular vote of their state.”
What else should readers know?
“You need to know your vote is probably going to count for a lot more this year than it has in other election cycles,” Manry said. “(…) In battle-ground states this year, incumbents are finding some pretty strong headwinds. Great examples of this are Oregon and Oklahoma. Governor Stitt is behind in the polls as a Republican. A couple of months ago, you probably wouldn’t have picked Hoffmeister as having a snowball’s chance of winning. But Stitt’s vulnerable here and might very well lose his position.”
“So,” Manry said, “if you’re not going to bother voting in your elections because the guy who’s there right now has always been there, take a look again.”