Why the Midterms Are Putting Voters to Sleep

There's no big national issue to galvanize people, writes Peter Beinart
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2014 1:08 PM CDT
Why the Midterms Are Putting Voters to Sleep
Democratic Party volunteers call prospective voters in California in this Oct. 20 photo.   (AP Photo/Michael Blood)

The consensus heading into crunch time of the midterm elections is that they're ... boring. (See here and here, or check out a recent Pew poll showing the anemic level of interest among Americans—only about 15% are closely following things.) Midterms always lack the punch of a presidential election, of course, but this year seems worse than any recent one, writes Peter Beinart at the Atlantic. The problem, he argues, is that while 2014 has a number of dramatic races on the local level, nothing is grabbing people in more of a big-picture sense. "There’s no big national issue on which voters feel that they can change the country’s course."

Go back to 1998, for instance, when the possibility of Bill Clinton's impeachment hung over the election. In 2002, the nation fretted about invading Iraq, and four years later, it fretted about leaving. In 2010, the economic collapse overshadowed all. But this year, "Americans just don’t believe that as much hinges on their vote." Control of the Senate? Sure, "Democrats want to win, but they're not too worried about losing," writes Ezra Klein at Vox. Even if they do, "they're likely to take it back in 2016. And it's not as if much is going to get done in the meantime." People right now are worried about Ebola and ISIS, he adds, and that gets to heart of the problem of the 2014 election: "It doesn't seem likely to really change anything anyone cares about." Click for Klein's full column, or Beinart's. (More midterm elections stories.)

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