With less than two weeks until Election Day and control of Congress hanging in the balance, the stakes are high for both major political parties in getting out the vote on November 2. If you believe the polls, Republicans and Tea Party advocates appear more enthusiastic about turning out to vote this year than Democrats, and the GOP is poised to make significant gains in the House and Senate. Democrats are in jeopardy of losing control of the House (pundits currently are projecting Republicans to gain 40-50 seats – 39 would tip the balance in the chamber), but look to keep control of the Senate, albeit it by a slimmer margin.
So much of this election depends on turnout – whether Republicans pick up 35-50 House seats or 60+ will greatly depend on which party motivates their base to get out and vote. And turnout won't be limited to Election Day itself – in fact, I've heard that approximately 70% of ballots will be cast early this year. If that is the case, the onslaught of spending by both major political parties in the late days of the campaign – particularly as it manifests itself in TV and radio advertising – may not be as effective in persuading voters as intended. One of the other interesting trends this election cycle is the large number of expenditures being made by independent, third-party groups/organizations – their influence is on the rise, while that of the political parties appears to be diminishing.
There are a number of "bell weather" states that will be very telling on election night – Kentucky and Indiana both have competitive races, and will be the first two states to close polls. Other states that will be key to the final results include Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin. There are a lot of highly contested/toss-up seats in these states that will play a determining role in the number of gains Republicans make and whether those will be significant enough to tip control of the House and/or Senate.
So it boils down to this: turnout is important. No matter your political party, you should exercise your right to vote. Visit NEMA's advocacy website for ideas on how you can be involved. And if you choose to, vote early! But not often. That is illegal.