US midterm elections are looming, here are the key issues

Expert says abortion is the wildcard issue this cycle

Americans head to the polls next week.

The US midterm elections are just around the corner, and for voters down south and Americans at Queen’s, it’s an important chance to decide the future direction of US policy. 

According to Paul Gardner, assistant professor in the department of political studies, the major deciding issues in a midterm election are usually voter’s perception of the incumbent president and voter’s perception of the economy. 

He said this year is unique since voters are considering a third factor: abortion policy with the overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer. 

“The out party—the party the President is not part of—tends to be a bit more motivated. They're more likely to turn out, and midterms are very much elections that are decided on the basis of turnout,” Gardner said in an interview with The Journal

The decisions around abortion have pushed Democrats to see what is at stake during this election, Gardner said. 

He emphasized voters do have short memories, meaning issues like reproductive rights can sometimes be pushed out of the forefront in favour of the economy.  

“Candidates like Stacey Abrams, who's the candidate for governor in Georgia have been hitting that issue [abortion] particularly hard [...] Abrams seems to be struggling now, and a lot of the polling suggests maybe what was seeming like a very salient message earlier in the summer, maybe has not been such a salient message now,” Gardner said.

Gardner believes the importance of younger voters can’t be underscored.

“The turnout of young voters in midterm elections tends to be less reliable than it’s in presidential elections. The impact of that is that younger voters tend to be more liberal on issues like abortion,” he said. 

This election will be important to understand in-terms of polling, with pollsters having gotten previous US election predictions incorrect in the last few years. Gardner said statistical measures have been taken this time around to ensure as accurate a result as possible.

“When we see some of these Democratic candidates doing particularly well in the polls, in places where the polls have been less accurate, favouring Democrats, that might cause us to be skeptical that those candidates are going to do as well as the polling is showing.”  

Gardner believes this election will have important outcomes in the world of finance, particularly when looking at the US’ debt ceiling. 

“It certainly has been suggested that this would have significant consequences for global economic markets.”

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