They come right in the middle!
They matter quite a little!
Register to Vote! - Shows deadlines and other details Voting Information - Lets you look up important dates along with polling locations along with their opening and closing hours. Learn about your candidates! - This has a listing of candidates along with their position on the issues. It's apolitical and just tallies off stuff like "Pro-Choice" or "Against Gun Control" based on direct statements from the horse's mouth or inferred stuff from voting patterns.
Welcome to the midterm elections thread! It's been a while, hasn't it? While it may not be the fancy pants Presidential Election that gets all the media attention, the midterms are important in their own right and merits a thread. Before we go any further, because this is a Special Politics SE++ Thread, there are some ground rules:
While it's SE++, you should stay on topic more than in an average thread.
This thread is a limited time thing. I'll make a new one if we manage to get to 100 pages before the elections, but after that the thread will go away.
An addendum to #2: Tube or any SE++ mods reserve the right to close this thread whenever they feel like it. There is a high correlation between this and bad behavior, so keep it civil.
If you think someone is trolling with outrageous posts such as racism, sexism, or the rest of the shit-colored rainbow of bigotries, then just report them. Do not engage, as it is highly unlikely they actually care about the issues at hand and just want to be asshats.
This is more of a personal request, but try to resist the urge to do line-by-line responses to someone's post. Nobody wants to see their monitor filled with the first half of someone's post. If you must do this, then take it to PMs.
Ad hominem arguments are strictly forbidden, and might even be infractable. Technically this should be hard to do since insults are verboten here anyways, but if you dismissing someone's argument because they're a silly goose will be treated harshly. An ad hominem is not just insulting someone. If they explain in detail why you're wrong and call you a silly goose for even thinking that such a line of reasoning was a good argument, then that's too bad for you.
What is a Midterm Election?
In the USA, this is the election that occurs in the middle of the president's term. It's special because of the timing: in our legislative branch, the House of Represenatives are all up for reelection, along with a third of the Senate. This presents the opportunity for a major shift in control of the legislature among the two political parties. Typically the party that does not control the presidency is an advantage since by the midterm people tend to have lowered opinions of the president and are looking for an alternative. This happened to Bush in 2006 when the Democrats took the House (and kinda-sorta tied in the Senate), and again in 2010 under Obama when Republicans snagged it back. The split Congress does diminish the Republicans' advantage, however, as they've now had some governmental power for four years and therefore have a clear record to be judged upon. It's not like in 2010 when they were out of power and could promise the moon.
For those of you not familiar with the American Political Machine, this may sound quite dramatic. Over half of Congress up for reelection? That sounds like quite the upheaval every four years! Those of you not familiar with the American Political Machine but familiar enough with politics in general probably know better. Incumbents hold a dramatic advantage over challengers: they tend to boast a much larger war chest, can point to their doings in office, possess name recognition, and midterm elections in general have very poor turnouts which statistically favors the incumbent. Generally speaking, voters just go with what has been working rather than rocking the boat. Perhaps the biggest advantage to an incumbent is demographics: gerrymandering helps create districts that vote solidly for one party. So if you're a democrat in a blue county (or a democratic senator in a blue state), you can probably rest easy knowing that the only threats to your seat are scandal, a major crisis (like the 2008 market meltdown), or your district/state slowly shifting to the other party. Virginia is a good example, going from a reliably red state commonwealth to a more mixed bag thanks to the growth of the more liberal northern part of the state commonwealth.
If congresspeople are reasonably safe in their seats, so why should we care at all? Because there's 500+ members of Congress, which means SOMEONE is going to be struggling to keep their seat, and the current "balance of power" between parties is even enough that these few close races could determine the makeup of our lawmakers for roughly the next four years. This is also very important for other reasons: controlling both houses means that your bills are significantly more likely to get through. Currently Congress has had a hard time getting much of anything through because the Republicans are fairly united in rejecting anything that might give Obama any kind of political victory. Should the republicans take both houses, then it improves their chances significantly (the democratic party in the US may develop a spine and try to block everything the republicans do, but that has not been their nature for many years). It doesn't mean four years of Republican Power, as Obama still possess veto, but that's still an advantageous position to be in since you can point at the president when the public asks why nothing is getting accomplished.
Oh, and over half of the nation's states have gubernatorial elections, which is arguably more important than all of the above but that varies from state to state.
It seems unlikely that the House will change much beyond the Republicans gaining a few seats. The Senate is slightly more up in the air, but most sources I've seen are predicting that the GOP will take control, meaning they'll have both houses for the first time in eight years. The most optimistic outcome is that the Democrats barely hand onto the Senate and minimizes losses in the House, but there's only two toss-up elections right now, and that would not be enough. Of course, there's several races that only lean in one direction or the other, and this is the beginning of October when the election really kicks in. So anything is possible. Number-crunching darling of the last two presidential elections, 538, gives the GOP a 55% or so chance to take the Senate, so take that as you will.
Here are things voters may or may not care about this year. It's worth noting that the issues are going to vary heavily from state to state, so this is just me futilely trying to paint with a broad brush.
Obamacare: Republicans had plans to use this as their silver bullet, but the law was implemented and there haven't been any real major issues to make it national news. It seems like the GOP blew their load hyperventilating over the ACA for the past four years, and at this point I don't think the average voter going to be swayed by it.
Immigration: It was an issue in August, and with the whole ebola scare it may be a legit thing people care about. Yeah, it's a really stupid connection, but your run-of-the-mill voter is not known for their science education.
Economy: This might be the first election since 2008 where the economy doesn't seem to be the central focus. That could just be me, and I have no doubt that the economy will play some role this year, but it seems significantly diminished from 2012.
Foreign Policy: With IS active and Obama starting up bombings, this issue is definitely coming back to the forefront.
Gay Marriage: Okay, this is highly unlikely since public opinion has finally reached a majority support for it, but the recent Supreme Court decision could start up the wingnuts. And a relevant portion of the country is still against it, so more states legalizing it could stir up that hive.
"Scandals": The GOP has been trying to pin a bunch of scandals on Obama with wildly varying success, and that might have a small residual effect on certain races. Although I get the feeling that yelling "Benghazi" for two years straight isn't going to be as successful as they planned.
So just remember, this November
that your vote will count
A very very very very
very small amount!