After a lot of reading and learning my project is coming to an end, for now at least. The most frustrating part of this project for me was choosing what information to actually put in my blog posts. I was surprised by the diverse topics researchers studied in each election; it seems they covered both elections from every angle. As much as I wanted to fit everything I found fascinating into my blog posts, I knew that wasn’t realistic. I could have done an entire post about the role of the “angry white male” in the 1994 election just because it was intriguing, but that topic wouldn’t help me draw conclusions about power-shifting midterm elections in general. The hardest part of research is separating what’s relevant from what’s interesting. Ultimately, I tried to find a balance between both.
Another blog post, another look at the 1994 and 2006 elections. In this post, I’m going to be examining two different aspects of each election: the strategy used by the victorious party and the accuracy of the predictions made by pundits after each election. No party hoping to win a large number of congressional and senate seats walks into an election without a plan; to achieve an electoral victory, party leaders need to have a detailed strategy about how to attract voters. In regard to the second aspect I’m looking at, there is nothing political pundits and researchers love more than predicting the implications of an important event. They make grand predictions about what an election means for the coming years. My goal was to determine which predictions actually turned out to be accurate.
Next up in my attempt to compare the 1994 and 2006 midterm elections is examining the major political issues in each election. In every election, there are always a few issues that get the most spotlight; these are the issues candidates will discuss in speech after speech and pundits will examine ad nauseam in an attempt to drive voters to the polls on Election Day. The most important policy issues in any given election arise from a combination of national conditions and party preferences.
I thought I would begin my post by reminding readers what this project I’m working on is all about. Last semester I took Legislative Process, a government class that examines Congress from all sides, and I was inspired to do my freshman Monroe project about congressional elections. Specifically, my goal throughout this research has been to compare the 1994 and 2006 midterm elections. I picked these two years for a reason; 1994 is when the Republicans took control of the House and Senate for the first time in decades, and 2006 is when the Democrats took their power back. It is worth noting that there this one large difference between the 1994 and 2006 elections; the 1994 election came during Bill Clinton’s first term, while the 2006 election occurred in George W. Bush’s second term. Nonetheless, both were midterm elections experiencing similar phenomena. When I first came up with the idea for this project, I had no idea how I would compare these two elections, especially since there were so many angles that could be examined. With the help of my advisor, Professor Larry Evans, I decided to study both elections piece by piece, looking at everything from presidential popularity to key issues individually then adding my conclusions together at the end.