Experts: Middle-ground voters are key in midterm battles

Voters are being flooded with political ads as candidates fight for attention in the waning weeks of the 2018 midterm primary. We spoke to two analysts who discussed the influence of federal races on local elections; midterm voter turnout; and the Trump effect.

A typical midterm election over the past 50 years has seen the party that controls the White House losing three seats in the Senate and 24 in the House, said Erich Saphir, head of the political science department at Pima Community College.

If that holds, the Democrats would end up controlling the Senate this year. There are 51 Republicans and 47 Democrats in the Senate. Two independents caucus with the Democrats.

But nothing’s for sure because Democrats are defending multiple Senate seats in states that voted for Trump in 2016, Saphir said.

Of the 35 Senate seats up for grabs, 26 are held by Democrats. The first midterm election faced by a new president is usually the most damaging for his party, Saphir said. President Obama losing 63 House seats in 2010.

“But even if it’s a terrible year for Republicans, I don’t see anything like that on the horizon,” he said.

It’s difficult to describe American elections in generalities, especially after President Trump secured the White House, said Micah Halpern, political commentator and guest columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

However, voters often tend to correct their partisan exaggeration in the midterm elections, he said.

“So if it went far to the left, it would come back to the center,” and vice versa, he said, adding that the vast majority of Americans hold moderate political values.

“Fundamentally, Americans are centrists,” he said. “We don’t hear about the centrists because they’re not very fun, they’re not entertaining, they’re not crazy and they’re not very newsworthy.”

The key to winning any election is to secure votes from the middle, he said.

Read the entire Green Valley News article here. Originally published July 24, 2018.

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