Poll shows lack of interest in midterm elections

by Theresa Ross

 

On November 4, voters across the country will be electing new house and senate members, governors, and even school board members.  Yet, according to a survey conducted online only 35 students could identify that midterm elections take place on November 4.

“We do have school board elections in Birmingham,” history and government teacher Barbara Harte said. “We have a senate seat up for grabs for the first time in awhile, so both will be interesting to watch.”

Midterm elections take place every two years and though they do not have the glitz of a presidential election they are equally if not more important, according to Harte.

“Local politics will impact you more on a daily basis than who you vote for president,” Harte said.

The survey showed only 25% of students were interested or highly interested in the upcoming midterm elections.

“I don’t care about any decisions they make,” senior Kara McInerney said. “I wouldn’t know anything was changing anyways.”

Political awareness at Seaholm has always been low, as illustrated by the poll, which revealed only 32% of students are interested or highly interested in national politics as a whole.

According to Harte, Seaholm students know very little about midterm elections.

“I just didn’t have a huge interest,” senior Kendall Beier said. “I didn’t know there was a deadline to register until after it had passed.”

Seniors Delaney O’Brien and Heather Lee both had responses similar to Beiers in that they did not register in time.

“I filled out the paperwork,” O’Brien said. “I never mailed it in though so I’m not registered.”

Responses like those of Beier and O’Brien were common of those seniors who have turned 18.

However, Beier said she will be voting in 2016, when the next presidential election comes up.

“Voting for the president is definitely more exciting,” Beier said. “If this year had been a presidential election I probably would have been more on top of registering.”

According to senior Mitch Boorstein, he will be voting because it is a way to participate politically.

“I think it’s annoying when people (who are able to vote) complain about policies yet they don’t vote,” Boorstein said.

Boorstein is not alone in this opinion. Harte also voiced the power of the vote.

“People are frustrated with government,” Harte said. “They feel like the have no power so they give up the one thing they could do because they don’t think it makes a difference.”

The three most publicized elections have been the gubernatorial, house, and senate elections. However, a recent poll of Seaholm students proved many students know little about the elections.

Running for governor is Democrat Mark Schauer and the current Republican governor Rick Snyder. Yet 40% of Seaholm students chose either former governor Jennifer Granholm or Nancy Skinner, who was defeated by Bobby McKenzie in the Democratic congressional primaries, as candidates for election. Even more apparent is the lack of knowledge students have of our current governor. Only 41 students could identify Snyder as our state’s current leader.

Oakland County spans three congressional districts: the 9th, 11th, and 14th. Birmingham is located in the 11th district where the race is between Democrat Bobby McKenzie, Republican Dave Trott, current Republican congressman and write-in candidate, Kerry Bentivolio, and libertarian John Tatar.

Forty-Four percent of students believed Texas Congressman Sam Johnson and 12th district candidate Debbie Dingell to be running in the 11th district election.

The Senate race is one of the most competitive races not only in Michigan, but in the country. According to Harte, looking at who will control the senate could break or further the gridlock in Washington and in Michigan. This is the first race in a while without an incumbent running, therefore it is the first time there will be a senate seat up for grabs.

Though Debbie Stabenow has only served in the senate since 2001, Carl Levin’s seat is up for reelection for the first time since 1979. On the online survey it, when students were asked to identify Michigan’s two senators, 67 students chose Snyder, John Dingell, and Peters as one of their two choices.

Republican Terri Lynn Land is running against Democrat Gary Peters for Levin’s open seat. When asked who was running for the open Senate seat, 21% of the respondents chose congressional candidates Trott and Bill Roberts, who was beaten in the Democratic primary by McKenzie.

“I know that these are important elections,” senior Rachel Fenberg said. “I just haven’t learned enough about them to understand the impact it will have afterwards.”

 

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