Why Midterm Elections Are So Important | Government Explained

Well it’s that time again. Midterms are here. But no need to freak out. Midterm elections–not exams. But with so many government officials up for re-election you may need to do some cramming. Don’t worry though, we’re here to help. You remember that we recently had a
presidential election, right? They happen every four years because presidents serve four-year terms, as do governors. But the people we elect to the two
chambers of the US Congress– the House of Representatives and the Senate– have different term lengths. Senators serve a six-year term, and Representatives for two years, as written Article 1 of the US Constitution. During a presidential election year, which is always even–like 2012, 2016, 2020… you get the picture!– lots of people are running for different elected positions besides just the presidential candidates. These races are for state offices like
governor and lieutenant governor, as well as national and state legislators– you know the branch of government
that makes the laws. At the national level, every member of the US House of Representatives– sometimes just called the House– runs for re-election every two years. And these elections fall on even-numbered years. Because congressional senators terms are six years, just about a third of senators are
up for reelection every even-numbered year. Georgia has 16 members of Congress:
two senators and 14 representatives. Elections with the highest voter turnout
tend to be during presidential elections. This is because the president and his
running mate are the only positions elected nationwide, so they tend to get a lot of attention. When an election takes place outside of a presidential election year, it’s called an off-year election. If that election occurs in the middle of a
presidential term, it’s called a midterm. And without a president up for election during a midterm, fewer people come out to vote. So in the middle of a president’s term we have an election where a lot of people are running, but less of the population votes. And even though there isn’t a president on the
ballot, these elections are very important. Here’s why: You see oftentimes during midterm elections, voters choose who to vote for
based on whether or not they like the current president and his administration. This is sometimes called a referendum on the president’s agenda. And candidates sometimes choose to align with or distance themselves from the president
based on how they think their voters will feel toward the current administration. So here’s the important part about midterms: Because so many officials are up for reelection in the middle of a president’s term, control of the US Congress can swing
from one party to the other. To help make sense of this, let’s take a closer look at how control of a legislative body works. The party in power is referred to as the majority because it has more than 50 percent of the seats. The party not in power is the minority–and you guessed right–it has less than 50 percent. Just like when you vote for something
with your friends or in class, Congress largely operates on majority rule. This means the group with the greater
number gets to make the decisions. So let’s say that during the
first two years of a president’s term, the majority party that controls
Congress is not the same as the president’s. It can sometimes feel like
trying to be the captain of a ship and nobody wants to row in your direction. Pretty frustrating stuff. But if during the midterm elections, the president’s
party takes control of Congress, the president will have a much easier time
getting legislation passed, and maybe a better chance of getting
reelected in two years. The opposite scenario could happen too. Let’s say this time after the midterms, control of Congress flips from the
president’s party to the opposite party. This makes it really hard for the president to pass legislation he promised during his campaign. And the president might even be in
jeopardy of not getting reelected. So in the end, midterms have a huge impact on Congress and the President of the United States. They can make passing legislation a lot
easier or much harder. So now you know why everyone’s making a big deal about the midterms– or at least the midterm elections. If there are other topics you want to learn more about let us know in the comment section, and don’t forget to give this video a like and subscribe to our channel for more great explainers!

Stephen Childs

One Comment

  1. Why does a president care if a governor in a state is from him party? Or why does he campaign for a governor race? PS good videos and good luck with your channel.

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