Manhattan Caucus: Why Do the Midterm Elections Matter?

By  Kyla Guilfoil, Editor-in-Chief

Midterm elections in the United States are historically covered less in the press, have lower voter turnout and less general visibility than presidential elections. To put it simply, the data suggests most people don’t really care about the midterms. 

This year, however, is not like the rest. 

Already, more than 17 million people have cast their votes via early voting or absentee ballots in the 2022 midterm elections, according to data analyzed by the University of Florida’s U.S. Elections Project. 

The 2022 midterm elections have been a hot topic for months across the country, and particularly in the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio. 

The stakes for these state’s elections are linked to pressing issues across the country, namely abortion, inflation, crime and extremism. 

As of Oct. 28, FiveThirtyEight has predicted the Republicans have a four in five chance of taking control of the House of Representatives, while there is a dead heat for the power of the Senate. 

Just last month, the Democrats had a slight edge in the Senate, but that gap is now razor thin. Whichever party takes two of the three tightest races on Election Night will likely take power of the Senate, FiveThirtyEight projects. 

Changing powers in Congress will determine the success of President Biden’s agenda. Historically, the president’s party suffers during the midterm elections, but Biden is under heavy criticism after his first two years.

As of Oct. 28, 52.9% of Americans disapprove of Biden, just below Donald Trump’s 55.2% disapproval rating in 2018, FiveThirtyEight reports. Comparatively, Barack Obama ran a 44.2% and 48.1% disapproval rating in his two midterm election seasons. 

Biden has pledged to codify Roe if Democrats take the Senate and maintain power in the House, as well as crack down on gun laws. There’s also a focus by the Democrats to continue addressing Jan. 6 and limiting the power of the president as Trump faces ongoing investigations. 

Meanwhile, Republicans have pledged to cut down on inflation, reduce crime and address immigration reform. Republicans have also emphasized launching a probe into Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, business dealings with Ukraine. 

Beyond national legislation, the upcoming elections pose critical opportunities for state legislatures. 

In several states, the election for governor is grabbing the attention of voters. Even in New York, where the governor is most always Democrat, Republican Lee Zeldin is giving interim governor Kathy Hocul a closer run than expected. 

According to Quinnipiac University’s most recent poll in October, Hocul leads Zeldin by a 50-46 margin, much closer than experts anticipated. 

Zeldin, who is a congressman from Long Island, has focused his campaign on issues of crime and inflation. Hochul, who also has also focused on addressing abortion and immigration, has shifted her campaign to focus on more on crime and inflation. 

In Georgia, the race for governor is gaining major attention as incumbent Republican Brian Kemp is currently leading Democrat Stacey Abrams. 

Abrams, who lost her campaign for governor against Kemp in 2018, is currently running behind in the polls at 45.7% of the vote, according to FiveThirtyEight. 

Kemp’s campaign boasts a record of reopening businesses amid the COVID pandemic, linking lower unemployment rates and a budget surplus to his decision. 

Abrams has criticized Kemp’s decision to sign a bill banning after six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

With record-high inflation, the historic overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, rising levels of crime and ongoing political extremism, the upcoming midterm elections will have a lasting impact on major issues. 

Will you vote?