Assess the significance of midterm elections (15)
Midterm elections happen every two years, in between the presidential elections. They are a chance to re-elect the whole House of Representatives and 1/3 of the Senate.
The most compelling argument is that they are significant as they are a "referendum on the President". This means that the results reflect on the actions of the President rather than that of the electorate’s local representative. This shows significance as the Congressman and Senators may be voted out not based on their ability; the Presidents instead. In the last 4 midterm elections the Presidents party has suffered a loss of either the House, Senate or both. An example of this is the midterms during George Bush’ presidency: the Republicans had a majority of 8 in the House and 2 in the Senate and the midterms changed that to Democrat control in both chambers. This perfectly encapsulates the point as the low turnout of voters tends to be made up of those who have a chip on their shoulders and feel a need to protest rather than those who are content with the executive and therefore don’t want to vote for change. However, “all politics is local” (Tipp Oneil) and this is still true in this time. Although there is an increasingly nationalised nature of congressional elections, initiatives and propositions show that local issues are still important. At the 2014 midterms, States such as Maine voted to legalise marijuana. Also, arguably people are simply voting for change as they got tired or fed up of having a mixed Congress (with Democrats controlling Senate and Republicans the House) and thus, voted for change. This shows a lack of significance as people are tired and vote for something new just because they can.
Turnout is always low for midterm elections. The positive of this is that this can be used as preparation for the next election. Political parties and pressure groups get an indication of which groups of voters are not...