Debunking Five Myths About Midterm Elections

Monday, August 16, 2010

Voting booths (flickr: Nate Shepard)

The midterm elections are fast-approaching and many of the races are shaping up to be neck-and-neck. The Republicans have to gain 39 seats in the House and ten in the Senate in order to win majorities in both. But with public turnout for midterms usually very low, how much can these elections (or the campaigns leading up to them) help us predict the country's political future?

Alan Abramowitz, the Alben W. Barkley professor of political science at Emory University and author of "The Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization, and American Democracy," co-wrote an article for The Washington Post about five myths pertaining to midterm elections. 

According to Abramowitz's article, the five myths are:

  1. Midterm votes foretell future election results.
  2. The president's message is crucial.
  3. It's always about the economy.
  4. Midterms provide mandates.
  5. It's an anti-incumbent year.

Regarding that last myth, Abramowitz says that few incumbents lose their seats, even when voters are unhappy.  Abramowitz says about the election this November, "The large majority of seats held by both parties are safe.  There are 60 to 70 seats that are really in play with some question regarding who's going to win."

Abramowitz will be online at The Washington Post today to chat about the subject at 11 a.m. ET.


Alan Abramowitz

Produced by:

Samantha Fields and Amanda Moore

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