A Quick Election Cheat Sheet

Hey everyone, in case you didn’t notice this time around, the glut of political commercials should serve as a sign that an election is upcoming. Election Day is Tuesday, November 4th, and, in order to tie in with the theme of Chelsea’s Tuesday night Twitter chat, I thought I’d offer some information on what’s going on this time around.

• Many states have long-stable Senate seats up for grabs. Key amongst these races are the ones in Kentucky, Georgia, Montana, New Hampshire, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Alaska. Click here for a summary map by Washington Post.

• The direction of the rest of President Obama’s tenure will determined in this race. You’ve been hearing it since day one: “Obamacare” this and “Kenyan” that. This election will determine whether he’s seen as legitimate and a talented president (which, by many measures, he already is). Also, just to note, the last two years of many presidents’ terms in office have been terrible. Think Monica Lewinsky, Watergate, etc.

• The Republican Party only needs to swing six Senate seats to gain control. Since the GOP already has control of the House of Representatives, gaining the Senate would ensure gridlock continues until 2016, when a new president will be elected. The forecast is slightly in favor of the Republican Party gaining control of the Senate.

• Turnout in non-presidential elections tends to be abysmal. Usually right around 20% of eligible voters show up to the polls in midterm years, and these elections tend to hamper the sitting president. Remember the Tea Party backlash of 2010? That was in a midterm election, one that Obama has been hindered by ever since.

• Even if you don’t live in one of the states that has a closely-contested Senate race, there is likely a tightly fought state-level race in your area where your vote will matter significantly. For example, in Illinois, where I live, incumbent governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, is up against Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner, and it is a toss-up. The election centers largely around Illinois’ pro-union tradition, so I am certainly going to vote. There is likely a race in your area that matters in a similar way.

I hope I caught you up to speed and motivated you to vote. If you worry about missing work to vote on a Tuesday, check the website of your state or county board of elections to see about early voting or about obtaining an absentee ballot. Click here to find an election agency in your state, and go out there and decide the direction of the next two years!

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