Midterms: what are they, and how are they crucial to our democracy?

The midterm elections are very appropriately named. They take place two years into a president’s four-year term and are crucial to electing representatives for federal, state, and local offices. The 2022 midterms are going to be held on Nov. 8. The midterms often have a lower turnout rate than presidential elections, however, they are just as important for the democracy and stability of our country.

One of the most important things that happen in the midterms is the election of House of Representatives and Senate members. As a term in the House only last two years, all of the seats in the house are up for election. Democrats currently have a nine-member majority in the house. A term in the Senate lasts six years, meaning roughly a third of the Senate seats are up for grabs each during a midterm. This year, 34 out of 100 Senate seats are up for elec- tion, 14 previously Democrat-held seats, and 20 previously Republican-held seats. Any gains or losses will likely alter the very narrow Democratic majority in the Senate. As it stands today, there are 50 Democrat and 50 Republican seats in the Senate, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tie-breaker. Many are predicting that the Democrats will lose the House in the coming midterms. This is due mostly to the low approval ratings of President Biden. A Washington Post-ABC News poll from September found
Biden to be fairly unpopular, with 53% of Americans disapproving of his work as president. In the same poll, it was found that over half of independent voters want Republicans in the House to keep Biden in check in the coming years.

A usual trend each midterm is some sort of change. As Americans become unsatisfied with the discrepancies between a president’s promises and the realities they are facing, they will often vote in favor of change. Presidential historian at Oxford university, Laura Smith, said that “it has usually been
that [at the midterms] the party in power expects a wake up call.”

Biden, however, remains optimistic. These midterms come just three months after Biden signed his Inflation Reduction Act into law, an act focused on investing in green energy, reducing health insurance cost for low income families, and raising corporate taxes. The law was only able to pass with the Democratic majority in the House and Senate. Without that majority, Biden would struggle to pass any legislature like the Inflation Reduction Act again.

Turnout for the midterms is just as crucial for democracy as turnout for a presidential election. In the words of President Biden, “We need to do everything we can to get folks organized, mobilized, and vote, vote, vote, vote!”