Midterm elections have historically been unkind to the incumbent president’s party. If pre-election polls are accurate indicators, 2010 is likely to be no exception. Voters appear poised to deliver a humbling message to the President and the Democratic Party in the November elections.
Still, President Obama may be able to wrestle victory from the jaws of midterm defeat, as several of his predecessors have in the past, going into the second half of his first term. Whatever the outcome, midterm elections—and the 2010 cycle in particular—are fascinating episodes that challenge old thinking and encourage analysis of the electorate and the strategies used to appeal to it.
This issue of Campaigns & Elections sheds light on aspects of midterm electioneering, focusing on voter mobilization and getting out the vote, which is especially critical to electoral victory in non-presidential cycles. The articles offer insights about the latest understanding in voter psychology and how to leverage online opportunities to mobilize voters.
The 2010 cycle is also noteworthy for the role played by social movements like the Tea Party, which, as Villanova University political scientist Lara Brown observes in her article, is the latest manifestation of voter anxiety. Misunderstandings about the Tea Party abound, but Brown’s article takes a look at its roots, its similarity to other movements in history, and its application for this election cycle and beyond. Brown’s key point—and it’s a good one—is that not heeding the lessons of the movement prevents campaign professionals from developing political strategies that capitalize on the voter sentiment underlying the movement.
Also in this issue, we mark the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking 1960 presidential campaign with some reflections by Ted Sorensen, the legendary adviser to President John F. Kennedy, among others. Sorensen’s observations, culled over more than half a century in the epicenter of American politics, are prescient, practical and illuminating. It’s a must-read.
After the midterm madness subsides, we hope you’ll share your reflections and experiences about the 2010 elections, tactics that worked and those that failed, and your ideas about effective campaign outreach.
Thank you for reading.