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From ISU: Understanding the Midterms for the Non-Political

Courtesy of Manichanh Naonady
There's plenty of voter information to be had at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at ISU

Naonady is a senior studying journalism and mass communication at Iowa State University.  This story was among those submitted for a journalism class, and provides another view of the 2018 midterm elections. 

There’s no escaping it. You’re constantly being reminded to vote. You see it on flyers, advertisements, emails, mail, social media, you name it. The 2018 midterm elections are soon approaching, and you may be wondering what it is exactly and why does it really matter. Look no further, because here are the basics of what the midterms are.

“Midterm election is the election that takes place midway through the presidential term,” Dr. Kelly Winfrey, the Interim Director for the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University said. “So, presidents are elected for four years, two years in we have congressional elections and those are called the midterms, when they're falling in between presidential elections.”

Dr. Winfrey also explains how the Midterm elections impact the overall political landscape.

“The U.S. House of Representatives is up for reelection, that can very easily change the ruling party in the majority party in the U.S. House,” Dr. Winfrey said. “It’s really important because it can shape at least in particular, one part of the legislature and it also often provides kind of a check or referendum on the presidency.

“If you are someone who dislikes the president and are looking for ways to limit his power, you’re paying attention to ways to do that which is to vote for the other party or vice versa, if you are in favor of the president’s doing to preserve Republican control of Congress.”

With the importance of the upcoming midterm Elections, Professor Tessa Ditonto at Iowa State University’s Political Science Department recognizes that it does not receive as much attention as the presidential election.

“Midterm elections get less attention because there’s not one person that the whole country is focused on,” Professor Ditonto said. “Voting for our House representatives and Senate and our state legislatures are kind of more important because they have more of a direct impact on policy and on decisions that affect us on a personal level.”  

Both Professor Ditonto and Dr. Winfrey address how the midterms effect college students personally.

“College students want to have representation,” Professor Ditonto said. “If they’re concerned with things like student loans or the cost of college tuition, then they need to be thinking about ‘Who can I vote for?’, ‘Who is going to Congress or to the State Legislature and really fight for the things that I believe in?’”

“I think it’s important for students to think ahead about what they want their options to be, what they want the world to look like when they’re out of college,” Dr. Winfrey said. “Students need to think beyond that because laws that get passed now, by the time they’re in effect, the impacts will be down the road.”

If you don’t feel like you know enough about politics, Dr. Winfrey assures that you know plenty to vote.

“There are so many things that are political that maybe you don’t know as much about how the election process works but in terms of issues, you probably have opinions on a lot of things,” she said.