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Midterm Elections: 2010 Edition

News & Features | October 10, 2010

            “The first responsibility of every active citizen is to vote,” President Larry Bacow told the incoming class of 2014 during his matriculation speech. “I expect 100 percent participation from eligible voters. No excuses.” As we come closer to the midterm elections, the Observer understands that not everyone may know exactly what’s going happening on November  2, what with papers, tests, and extra-curriculars filling our days. But fear not; here is our Mid-Term 2010 breakdown, providing you with a basic guide to the major issues this election raises.

The National Outlook for November

            In total, there are 37 Senate seats being contested this year, 19 of which are competitive races. One of the key contests to watch is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s battle for reelection in his home state of Nevada against Tea Party-backed Republican Sharron Angle. Reid is a powerful player in the senate (opposed to abortion but a spokesman for the recent health care bill) and the results of Nevada’s senatorial race could speak to the nation’s shifting priorities depending on who wins. There are 10 Republican incumbents running for Senate versus 12 Democrats, and the remaining 15 races have no incumbent running. The Republicans need to pick up nine seats in the Senate to win a majority.

In the House, all 435 seats are up for grabs, although there only are about 100 competitive races. There’s a large number of incumbents retiring this year, 17 on the Democrat side and 20 on the Republican side, opening up seats to new faces. Republicans need to win 40 new seats to gain control of the House and may well succeed if Democrats can’t pick up momentum before November.

            A general mood of restlessness among the electorate and frustration with those in power have turned the 2010 midterm elections into what many see as a referendum on President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress. Approval ratings of Congress have been hovering around 20%, and Republicans are hoping to profit from this voter dissatisfaction to gain control of Congress. They have a better chance of doing that in the House than in the Senate, where they would need to pick up nine seats. Winning the Senate looks increasingly unlikely considering the recent victories of Tea Party-sponsored candidates in the primaries, candidates who will have a hard time attracting moderate votes in the general election.

            In recent months, no one has been able to escape the Tea-Party gospel, which preaches a doctrine of fiscal conservation but has also come to represent conservative social values as well. The Tea Party has mobilized a select segment of voters upset with what they perceive as the overreaching of the federal government, but has also alienated some moderate voters who might otherwise swing Republican.

            Obama and the Democrats are trying to prove that they have accomplished significant reforms in the last two years. The first provisions of the health care bill took effect on September 23, allowing, for example, thousands of children with pre-existing medical conditions to gain access to insurance. Democrats are keen to bring the stories of those positively affected by the new law to voters. House Republicans are promoting their “Pledge to America,” a platform for the 2010 election with main points that include making the Bush tax cuts permanent, the repeal of the healthcare law, and a spending cap.

Massachusetts’ Races

            This year is a gubernatorial race in Massachusetts as Democrat Deval Patrick seeks reelection against Republican Charlie Baker, Independent Tim Cahill, and Green-Rainbow Party Jill Stein. Cahill is currently the State Treasurer and was a member of the Democratic Party until he declared himself an Independent in the race for governor. Despite an impressive early showing in the polls, it looks like the election will come down to Patrick and Baker.

            Patrick is focusing on his record over the past four years, which many see as a mixed bag. His achievements include creating a streamlined Department of Transportation to save money, investing in the biotech industry in the state, closing corporate tax loopholes, deregulating the car insurance market, allowing new charter schools, and passing tougher ethics laws. Patrick served the state through the recession, and Massachusetts has fared better than other states, although it was forced to make $1.5 billion in cuts for its fiscal year 2011 budget.

            Baker has frequently made the case that the governor did too little too late. He talks of running the state more like a business, and indeed Baker is the former the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He helped turn around that struggling company, making it into one of the nation’s highest rated health care providers. He served for a number of years in the state government as Secretary of Health and Human Services and as Secretary of Administration and Finance. Like Patrick, he has a mixed record, having worked to successfully overhaul the state’s welfare system in the 1990s but coming under question for his management of the infamously expensive Big Dig construction project in Boston.

            Beyond the gubernatorial race, there are a host of other state offices up for election this year, including Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, and Attorney General. Information on these smaller races can be hard to find, but a good place to start is http://www.uselections.com/ma/ma.htm.

There are also three ballot questions, or referendums, that will be voted on in November. Question 1 involves repealing a double tax on alcohol, Question 2 deals with issuing comprehensive permits for low-income housing, and Question 3, perhaps the most controversial, would reduce the sales tax from 6.25% to 3%. While that sounds nice in theory, there are big concerns about how the state will make up for what would amount to a huge hole in the already precarious budget. For more information on the ballot questions, visit http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepip10/pip10idx.htm.

Local Congressional Races

The Tufts community is split up between the 7th and 8th Congressional districts of Massachusetts, so you’ll be voting for different candidates depending on where you live. Medford is located in the 7th district, where Congressman Ed Markey is running for reelection after 36 years in the House. He is a senior Democratic leader, notable for sponsoring the Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill that passed the House back in 2009 but has since stagnated in the Senate. He is running against Republican Gerry Dembrowski but is almost certain to win as a popular incumbent. If you live in Somerville or Cambridge, you’re in the 8th district, currently represented by Democrat Michael Capuano. He has held the seat for 12 years and is running unopposed this year.

Registering to Vote

The deadline in Massachusetts to register to vote in the November election is October 13. If you want to register here, you have several options. You can go to http://www.eac.gov/voter_resources/register_to_vote.aspx, print out the national voter registration form, fill it out, and send it to the included address. If you want a voter registration form sent to you, you can request one at http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elestu/stuidx.htm.

You can also visit the Medford or Somerville city halls to register there. If you mail in your registration form, make sure to send it to the city hall of the city in which you live. Because the Tufts campus is split between two cities, it can be rather difficult to figure out in which city you are supposed to register and where you are supposed to vote. Thankfully, Tisch College has a list of where to vote according to various residences on campus, available at http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/?pid=153.

Absentee Voting

“The first responsibility of every active citizen is to vote,” President Larry Bacow told the incoming class of 2014 during his matriculation speech. “I expect 100 percent participation from eligible voters. No excuses.” As we come closer to the midterm elections, the Observer understands that not everyone may know exactly what’s going happening on November  2, what with papers, tests, and extracurriculars filling our days. But fear not; here is our Mid-Term 2010 breakdown, providing you with a basic guide to the major issues this election raises.

The National Outlook for November

            In total, there are 37 Senate seats being contested this year, 19 of which are competitive races. One of the key contests to watch is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s battle for reelection in his home state of Nevada against Tea Party-backed Republican Sharron Angle. Reid is a powerful player in the senate (opposed to abortion but a spokesman for the recent health care bill) and the results of Nevada’s senatorial race could speak to the nation’s shifting priorities depending on who wins. There are 10 Republican incumbents running for Senate versus 12 Democrats, and the remaining 15 races have no incumbent running. The Republicans need to pick up nine seats in the Senate to win a majority.

In the House, all 435 seats are up for grabs, although there only are about 100 competitive races. There’s a large number of incumbents retiring this year, 17 on the Democrat side and 20 on the Republican side, opening up seats to new faces. Republicans need to win 40 new seats to gain control of the House and may well succeed if Democrats can’t pick up momentum before November.

            A general mood of restlessness among the electorate and frustration with those in power have turned the 2010 midterm elections into what many see as a referendum on President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress. Approval ratings of Congress have been hovering around 20%, and Republicans are hoping to profit from this voter dissatisfaction to gain control of Congress. They have a better chance of doing that in the House than in the Senate, where they would need to pick up nine seats. Winning the Senate looks increasingly unlikely considering the recent victories of Tea Party-sponsored candidates in the primaries, candidates who will have a hard time attracting moderate votes in the general election.

            In recent months, no one has been able to escape the Tea-Party gospel, which preaches a doctrine of fiscal conservation but has also come to represent conservative social values as well. The Tea Party has mobilized a select segment of voters upset with what they perceive as the overreaching of the federal government, but has also alienated some moderate voters who might otherwise swing Republican.

            Obama and the Democrats are trying to prove that they have accomplished significant reforms in the last two years. The first provisions of the health care bill took effect on September 23, allowing, for example, thousands of children with pre-existing medical conditions to gain access to insurance. Democrats are keen to bring the stories of those positively affected by the new law to voters. House Republicans are promoting their “Pledge to America,” a platform for the 2010 election with main points that include making the Bush tax cuts permanent, the repeal of the healthcare law, and a spending cap.      

Massachusetts’ Races

            This year is a gubernatorial race in Massachusetts as Democrat Deval Patrick seeks reelection against Republican Charlie Baker, Independent Tim Cahill, and Green-Rainbow Party Jill Stein. Cahill is currently the State Treasurer and was a member of the Democratic Party until he declared himself an Independent in the race for governor. Despite an impressive early showing in the polls, it looks like the election will come down to Patrick and Baker.

            Patrick is focusing on his record over the past four years, which many see as a mixed bag. His achievements include creating a streamlined Department of Transportation to save money, investing in the biotech industry in the state, closing corporate tax loopholes, deregulating the car insurance market, allowing new charter schools, and passing tougher ethics laws. Patrick served the state through the recession, and Massachusetts has fared better than other states, although it was forced to make $1.5 billion in cuts for its fiscal year 2011 budget.

            Baker has frequently made the case that the governor did too little too late. He talks of running the state more like a business, and indeed Baker is the former the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He helped turn around that struggling company, making it into one of the nation’s highest rated health care providers. He served for a number of years in the state government as Secretary of Health and Human Services and as Secretary of Administration and Finance. Like Patrick, he has a mixed record, having worked to successfully overhaul the state’s welfare system in the 1990s but coming under question for his management of the infamously expensive Big Dig construction project in Boston.

            Beyond the gubernatorial race, there are a host of other state offices up for election this year, including Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, and Attorney General. Information on these smaller races can be hard to find, but a good place to start is http://www.uselections.com/ma/ma.htm.

There are also three ballot questions, or referendums, that will be voted on in November. Question 1 involves repealing a double tax on alcohol, Question 2 deals with issuing comprehensive permits for low-income housing, and Question 3, perhaps the most controversial, would reduce the sales tax from 6.25% to 3%. While that sounds nice in theory, there are big concerns about how the state will make up for what would amount to a huge hole in the already precarious budget. For more information on the ballot questions, visit http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepip10/pip10idx.htm.

Local Congressional Races

The Tufts community is split up between the 7th and 8th Congressional districts of Massachusetts, so you’ll be voting for different candidates depending on where you live. Medford is located in the 7th district, where Congressman Ed Markey is running for reelection after 36 years in the House. He is a senior Democratic leader, notable for sponsoring the Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill that passed the House back in 2009 but has since stagnated in the Senate. He is running against Republican Gerry Dembrowski but is almost certain to win as a popular incumbent. If you live in Somerville or Cambridge, you’re in the 8th district, currently represented by Democrat Michael Capuano. He has held the seat for 12 years and is running unopposed this year.

Registering to Vote

The deadline in Massachusetts to register to vote in the November election is October 13. If you want to register here, you have several options. You can go to http://www.eac.gov/voter_resources/register_to_vote.aspx, print out the national voter registration form, fill it out, and send it to the included address. If you want a voter registration form sent to you, you can request one at http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elestu/stuidx.htm.

You can also visit the Medford or Somerville city halls to register there. If you mail in your registration form, make sure to send it to the city hall of the city in which you live. Because the Tufts campus is split between two cities, it can be rather difficult to figure out in which city you are supposed to register and where you are supposed to vote. Thankfully, Tisch College has a list of where to vote according to various residences on campus, available at http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/?pid=153.

Absentee Voting

If you want to register as an absentee voter in your home state, visit the Tisch College website for more information at:

http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/Vote.

Visit soon because many states require registration three to four weeks before the election.

If you want to register as an absentee voter in your home state, visit the Tisch College website for more information at:

http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/Vote.

Visit soon because many states require registration three to four weeks before the election.