Front Page Talking Points

FOR THE WEEK OF NOV. 07, 2022

Decision time: Voting Tuesday will shape Congress and state leaderships

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Elections for Congress members, governors, other state officials and local politicians conclude in all states Tuesday, with millions of absentee ballots already dropped off or mailed. It's called a midterm election because we're halfway through President Joe Biden's four-year term. Those elected to the U.S. House and Senate will have a big impact on what he can get done by the end of 2024 — and on American life over the next couple of years. In some states, changes in top offices and legislatures could affect rules for future voting and even potentially how the next presidential election is overseen.

Every two years, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election. In the 100-member Senate, 34 seats are up because senators serve six-year terms. Voters also will pick 36 governors, secretaries of state and attorneys general. In addition, there are ballot initiatives to change state policies, such as on abortion.

The biggest question is whether Biden will have a Democratic-controlled Congress or whether Republicans will be able to block his agenda by picking up majorities in one or both branches on Capitol Hill. Republicans need to flip just five Democratic seats to retake the House majority. To regain Senate control, Republicans need to win just one Democratic seat and keep those they now fill. Historically, the party holding the White House loses seats in midterm elections. The president and Democratic leaders are "bracing for two years of grinding partisan conflict," recent New York Times coverage says.

At the same time, a continuing movement to challenge voting results is raising concerns. Election deniers, as they're called, could win congressional seats and top state-level jobs overseeing elections. If they become secretaries of state, those Republican officials could make it harder to vote, allow extended audits of results or even refuse to sign off on them, critics say. "I'm really worried that if the wrong people get into office, they're going to undermine the principles that were the founding principles for our country -- to decertify an election that was properly done," voter Jack Macpherson of Janesville, Wis., told CNN last week. In his view, the biggest issue in the midterms is "defending our democracy."

Professor says: "Americans have tended to vote in divided government in the midterms as a bit of a slap in the face to the sitting president." – Laura Smith, Oxford University historian in England

Journalist says: "Democrats have found extraordinary momentum from two extraordinary events: The end of national abortion protections in America and the rise of election-denying Republican candidates in key races." – Amber Phillips, Washington Post politics reporter

Author says: "I don't think we [news media] are alarmist enough. I think we need to stop being asleep at the switch and sound the alarm more about what could happen if election denialists are in power." – Margaret Sullivan, writer of "Newsroom Confidential" (October 2022)

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2022

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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.