Even if you aren’t interested in politics, chances are you’ve seen a large amount of media coverage, from Fox News to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” on the Nov. 2 midterm elections this year.
This rise in interest “seems to be driven by the Tea Party phenomenon and general frustration with the government,” said Vaughn May, chair of the political science department at Belmont.
The midterm elections happen two years after every presidential election. This year, the elections will decide all 435 seats in the U.S. House, 36 seats in the Senate, and 37 governorships.
The “Tea Party phenomenon” began in 2009 as a conservative fringe movement that has been making strides among Libertarians and more conservative Republicans alike and has driven out many moderate Republican candidates during this campaign. This sudden rise in popularity has caused the media to scramble to cover this movement as it unfolds, and since it seems to be one of the most popular political movements in recent memory, the coverage has kept increasing.
Tea party candidates like Christine O’Donnell and Carl Paladino have been picked on for their often-surprising remarks. Similar stories on figures such as Nancy Pelosi and President Obama have also gained traction.
Many Americans are noticing the increasing partisan divided. There are two ways to look at this partisan media trend of pointing out the worst of both parties, said May. Scholars argue the country is either “losing civil discourse,” making it increasingly difficult to discuss political differences, or this spectacle is driving more voters to the polls and generating interest in politics, May said.
As far as talking points for this election go, economic issues have been front and center, he said. Social issues like unemployment, the national debt, and government spending are also among the most popular issues, he added.
The elections are next week, and Republicans are projected to make gains. “It will turn out to be a good year for the Republican Party,” said May. “I think they will get the House, but probably not the Senate.”
May said that even though this election and the candidates have had their fair share of media bombardment, it really doesn’t seem to be much different than in years past.
– Hilli Levin