Monday, July 22, 2024

U.S. Midterm Elections: The Phenomenon of Midterm Loss for Incumbents

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By: Sarjo Brito, U.S Midterm Elections 2022 Virtual Reporting Tour Participant

One year after the Biden Administration took office, Americans will be heading to the polls on November 8th for the 2022 US Congressional Elections.

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The highly contested elections between Democrats and the Republican party will see the two fight to take control of the House and Senate. While Democrats currently hold the majority in the Legislative branch of government, the phenomenon of midterm loss cannot be completely ignored as House Democrats face what seems to be an uphill battle to maintain a majority in the 2022 midterm election following high profile retirements from House Democrats and a decline in President Biden’s approval rating.

Dr. Bradley Jones, Senior Researcher, Pew Research Centre explains the midterm loss phenomenon, citing the Obama and Trump Administrations who both, at the beginning of their terms had majorities in both the House and Senate but will later lose seats to this political pattern that have been experienced by almost all previous administrations, except for Roosevelt’s election in 1934 and the 1998 elections.

“So, we went from, at the beginning of Obama’s term, you have the trifecta, a Democratic majority in the Senate and the House. In the midterms, lost the House, kept the Senate, and by the end of his presidency had lost the Senate as well. Trump comes into office with majorities in the Senate and the House as well, loses the House majority in the 2018 midterms, and then Biden comes into office with majorities again in the Senate and the House. And so, this is something that is a pattern in American politics where, almost without exception – there are a couple of exceptions – the incumbent party loses seats in the midterm elections,” Dr. Bradley Jones says.

A recently released report by Pew Research gauging America’s view on the Biden Administration has shown a decline in his approval rating over time, a key component of the popularity/economic theory in which some Americans see the midterm as a referendum on the state of the economy and the popularity of the incumbent administration.

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“We [Pew Research Centre] just released this report, looking at kind of a one year in how the Biden administration is viewed by the American public. So, like most other public opinion data, it has shown a decline in his approval ratings over time. So, I think our estimate is a little bit higher than some, but the important thing is the trend here. It went from clear majority support immediately following his election to now only 41% of the public approving of Biden’s job in office.

So, when you ask about the coronavirus outbreak, or making good decisions in economic policy, or immigration policy, or bringing the country closer together, or handling criminal justice issues, or dealing with China, we see declines basically across the board and among both Republicans and Democrats,’’ Dr. Jones explains.

While many Americans significantly side with the Democratic Party on issues regarding healthcare, climate change and abortion among others, the road might still be harder just because of these historical factors.


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