The midterm elections are today, and voters around the country are deciding who will represent them in their local and federal government. As Catholics, we are called to participate in the public square, and choose candidates who will support the dignity of the human person and the flourishing of our society.
Historically, the midterm elections have significantly lower voter turnout than years when there is a presidential election. Why is that? And what does that mean for Catholics who want to have their voice heard? Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org stopped by A Closer Look™ recently to discuss the midterm elections, and why it is important to get out and vote today.
On the amount of Americans that turn-up for midterm elections, Burch said, “It’s astounding to see the number of people that do not participate in a midterm election. I believe it was approximately 60% of the electorate, eligible voters, who participated in the  election. So still a high number, but still 40% of eligible voters didn’t show up or didn’t participate. But what happened in the last midterm? The last midterm election, so an off year with no president on the ballot, was in 2014. The numbers were 36.6% of eligible voters participated. It was actually the lowest level of participation since World War II.”
“There is, generally speaking, over the last 25-30 years a 15-20% drop-off among eligible voter participation, versus a presidential election year,” Burch continued. “So what does that tell you? It tells you that the voters who are most engaged are going to have an outsized impact on the outcome. Voters that are less engaged, not paying as close attention, many of them simply don’t participate. So our message is that if you are a highly engaged, very interested voter, your vote during a midterm election is 25-30% more impactful. It really does make a difference if you participate in a midterm election.”
On whether there is expected to be a higher turnout during this year’s midterm elections, Burch said, “Early voting suggests that is the case. Early voting numbers that are already in across the country … the numbers are much higher. Already, for example, across the country there are more early votes cast than there were in the entire last midterm election.”
So we know that typically your vote has an outsized impact during a midterm election due to low voter turnout, but what impact does it have overall? What does your vote mean when it comes to how the government will work over the next few years?
“This midterm election in many ways is, yes, about policy when it comes to judges,” Burch told host Sheila Liaugminas. “Because, as you and I have talked about many times, the Senate is the branch of government that confirms judges, including judges to the Supreme Court. And so, who controls the Senate is going to be absolutely critical for the question of judges. That is, without question, the #1 issue in this election. Particularly if you have another Supreme Court vacancy.”
“Now, with respect to policy, the House of Representatives is likely to go either way by a small number – most of the pundits are predicting the Democrats likely to take back the House by a few seats, maybe as much as 10 seats. … But let’s be realistic, if the Democrats do, in fact, take that House back, or if we’re all surprised on Tuesday and the Republicans happen to hang onto it, the margin of the majority is going to be so small that I don’t anticipate any significant legislative victories to come out of the House for the next two years. Really what it’s going to be is a proxy for 2020.”
Listen to the conversation with Brian Burch below: