© 2023 KRCU Public Radio
90.9 Cape Girardeau | 88.9-HD Ste. Genevieve | 88.7 Poplar Bluff
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Liasson Tells Show Me Center Crowd That Midterm Election Hinges On Turnout

Midterm elections are coming up and NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson presented "Let's Talk Politics" at the University Speaker Series on Oct. 28 at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Liasson discussed topics like potential impacts for the upcoming midterm election, the presidential election and voter turnout.

"This is what we call a turnout election, " Liasson said. "There are very few swing voters in America. Mostly there are people who made up their minds but it's just a question of getting them out to the polls."

Liasson said Democrats face a problem when it comes to midterm elections. Democrats have built a highly electoral coalition. According to Liasson, this helps when it comes to presidential elections but not midterm elections.

Single women voters are an important demographic for the Democratic Party.

Barack Obama won the single women's vote by 29 points against Republican Mitt Romney in 2012. Liasson said single women are reliable Democratic supporters but they are unreliable  because of their lack of participation during midterm elections.

"Their participation rate drops by about 20 percent," Liasson said.

Millennials also play a major role in voting.

According to a survey by Harvard University, only 23 percent of Americans under 30 will "definitely be voting" in the upcoming midterm elections. The number dropped by 8 percent since 2010.

On the other hand, Republicans have a greater turnout for midterms because their demographics tend to be more rural, whiter, older and married.

Liasson said the odds appear favorable for the Republicans in the Senate election.

"Generally midterm elections are referendums on the president and generally parties who have the White House do extremely poorly in the sixth year midterm," Liasson said. "Every single president in the modern era has lost the Senate majority in a second term midterm if they had one to lose." The lone exception, she said, is Lyndon Johnson but he comes with a caveat because he did not serve two full terms.

Liasson said voters are in a sour mood and Obama has a 40 percent national approval rate. Ebola, ISIS and Ukraine are all factors to his low ratings and Republicans are using it to their advantage.

"However, the Democrats have built a better and more effective turnout operation," Liasson said. "They've been very successful in presidential years at what we call expanding the electorate."

Expanding the electorate refers to targeting people who have never voted and registering them to vote.

As for the upcoming 2016 presidential election, Liasson predicts Hillary Clinton will run for the Democratic Party and Jeb Bush for the Republican Party.

“There’s always a surprise,” Liasson said.


Jen Gradl was a student reporter at KRCU in 2014.