By Jen SifferlenAssistant Editorial Editor
Midterms have been on everyone’s mind this week at Hofstra University, but as exams and the associated stress come to a close, candidates across Nassau County are worried about midterms of a different sort.
District Attorney Kathleen Rice, county legislator Kevan Abrahams, former Hofstra professor Frank Scaturro and former Port Authority commissioner Bruce Blakeman have all announced their candidacy for New York’s fourth seat in the House of Representatives.
Come Nov. 4, political veterans and hopefuls like those in Nassau County will be voted either in or out of public office in the midterm elections.
Hofstra students have been concerned with midterm exams, but along with young voters across the country, show little interest in elections with the same name.
Young people tend to vote less than older generations, especially during non-presidential elections. While 19 percent of all votes in the 2012 presidential election were cast by those under the age of 30, that same age group accounted for only 12 percent of voters in the midterms in 2010, according to a study by The Cook Political Report.
Young voter turnout is much stronger in presidential elections. “Without young people, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania would have flipped from Blue to Red,” in 2012, putting Romney in the White house, according to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement statistics.
Future presidential buzz has already established its presence in social media. The day after Obama was reelected in 2012, #Hillary2016 was trending on Twitter, reported Alicia M. Cohn for The Hill. Excitement for congressional candidates is much less substantial.
Midterms, though, are less glamorous than presidential elections, which contributes to a small young adult presence at the polls. At Hofstra, a 2008 and 2012 presidential debate host, the atmosphere is very different. The buzz, the media and the voter pride that builds around campus during the debate is absent this year, and students remain largely unaware of and apathetic about the elections.
Americans across the country are unhappy with the performance of the 112th and now, the 113th Congress. The latest Gallup poll reported that only 12 percent of the nation approves of Congress, yet only 6.2 percent of house representatives and 10 percent of senators lost their seats the last time they were up for election, according to statistics from the Brookings Institution.
Despite Obama’s recent efforts to govern through executive order, the presidency is weaker than popular opinion seems to suggest. While the president does have veto power and the ears of the nation, it is Congress, often called the first branch of government, which writes and votes on the laws of the land.
Young people are not heavily involved in midterm elections. But they should be. Eligible voters of all ages should vote for Rice or Abrahams or Scaturro or Blakeman or whoever is up for election in one’s hometown, district and state.
The 2016 presidential elections are more than two years away, and the national political landscape can change dramatically in far less time than that. In the meantime, voters, take care not to overlook the policies of today and the officials who have either been voting in the best interests of their constituents, or have not.