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Rutgers experts discuss upcoming midterms

Rutgers students can find voting information for the upcoming midterm elections on the RU Voting website, which shows students where and how to vote.  – Photo by Element 5 Digital / Unsplash

Election Day is tomorrow, November 8, for voters to elect new or incumbent congressional and gubernatorial candidates.

Currently, the House of Representatives is controlled by the Democratic Party with 220 seats, and the Senate is controlled by the Republican Party with 50 seats, though two seats are held by Democratic-leaning independents. 

In terms of gubernatorial seats, there are 28 states with Republican governors and 22 states with Democratic governors. 

Typically, voter turnout is much lower in midterm elections compared to presidential races, in which approximately 20 percent more voters typically show up to the polls. It is predicted that there will be more turnout in this midterm election than in recent years due to a large number of early voters.

John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, said that voter turnout will be a deciding factor in who wins the election, reflecting which parties and candidates were most successful in generating voting blocs. He said, though, that this election could still be unpredictable.

“I think one of the reasons the outcome of this election is so uncertain is that while it is relatively easy to assess how voters feel about the substance of particular issues, it is much harder to gauge which ones are going to be at the top of voters' minds on Tuesday — or were there earlier for those casting votes prior to Election Day,” he said.

Weingart said other issues that can affect the outcome of this election are voters’ perceptions on American democracy as well as concerns about the crime rate and the nation’s economic state.

Additionally, the issue of reproductive rights may lead to more voters turning out for Democratic candidates over Republican candidates, he said.

Weingart said students should be aware that the outcome of this election is likely to affect them in their long-term adulthood, a pattern seen in elections past.

“That is the kind of thing I heard people say as Election Day approached 1968 when I was an undergraduate,” he said. “Now, more than 50 years later, I think they were right.” 

Ross Baker, a distinguished professor in the Department of Political Science, said that students should be aware of Republican candidates and their attitudes toward election results.

He said that since former President Donald J. Trump's rejection of the 2020 election results, there has been skepticism among the Republican Party regarding the American election system that has continued into this year.

Baker said that many Republican candidates have said they will not accept a result if it is not in their favor.

“If there is widespread denial of election results after the midterm, the integrity of our elections will be jeopardized in the future,” he said.

Baker said that although elections are not one of the top priorities for college students, it is important for them to vote.

“Students have a distinctive voice, and if they want it to be heard, they've got to set aside the time to register and vote,” he said.

Weingart said that students can find voting information on the RU Voting website, which shows where and how to vote not only in New Jersey and but also in other states.

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