JSU political science chair explains the significance of midterm elections

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For years, exercising the right to vote has been a top priority for Jackson State students. (Photo special to JSU)

Anthony Howard Byline


The 2022 midterm election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Although presidential elections attract a greater amount of attention, political experts say the midterms can be more or equally as important as the nation’s largest political race.

Two major determinants of the midterm are the two chambers of Congress: The U.S Senate and the House of Representatives. During a typical midterm, about one-third of the seats in the 100-member U.S. Senate are up for grabs. Additionally, so are all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Every two years, each seat in the House of Representatives is up for election. However, senators serve staggered six-year terms so that one-third of the senate could be up for reelection every two years, creating the

battleground states referenced by media outlets.

Dr. Maruice Mangum’s research has focused on the intersection of identity, race and public opinion. He has been published in numerous highly ranked journals in political science and social science.

Maruice Mangum, Ph.D., chair of the Political Science Department

Maruice Mangum, Ph.D., who serves as chair of Jackson State University’s Department of Political Science, stated that each election is an important reflection of the time.

“Midterms are important because you’re dealing more with different types of issues driven by the people and less by the politicians at the top of the ticket,” he explained. “In presidential elections, the presidential candidate has the tendency to determine the agenda and push certain issues. In midterm elections, the national forces and national trends that dictate what will be at stake during the midterm elections.”

Mangum shared how several nationwide controversial issues that arose in the past two years are at the forefront of voters’ minds as they prepare to head to the polls. The political science professor said voters are concerned about gun violence constantly making headlines, the Congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, states restricting or banning abortion access, an uptick in hate crimes, and inflation reaching its highest point in decades.

“Elections do have consequences, as everybody learned the hard way this summer with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and that’s because people sleep on these midterm elections,” said Mangum.

Currently, President Joe Biden presides over a Democratic-controlled Congress, but the tides could turn after Tuesday. Mangum said one trend in American politics is that the party holding the White House tends to lose seats (both House and Senate) during the midterm elections.

With a Republic-controlled Congress, it would become increasingly harder for the Biden administration to pass new legislation. It could also lead to the repealing of more rights, such as gender equality, voting and reproductive rights.

“When you are a racial and political minority status, you can’t give up. You have to vote as often as possible to gain representation. If you don’t, the other side is going to take away as many rights as they possibly can,” advised Mangum. “That’s why it’s important to vote your interest every election because racial minorities, the poor, and the young tend to not [vote], and that’s why they tend to lose out on public policy.”

Student-led organizations like JSU Votes have helped hundreds of students become registered voters. (Photo special to JSU)

Student-led organizations like JSU Votes have helped hundreds of students become registered voters. (Photo by William Kelly III/ JSU)

JSU Votes

The student-led organization JSU Votes works to provide voter education to the student body. The members host various events to get students registered to vote, and provide information about candidates on the ballot.

Freshman Jonas Goss, who serves as the parliamentarian for JSU Votes, said they’ve helped over 200 students register to vote prior to the midterm election. He feels voting is important and educating his peers is his service to the community.

“I’m a person who is very critical of things going on around me, and I feel like I can’t have a problem with the system if I’m not doing my part to change it,” Goss shared. “With the water crisis happening in Jackson and everything going on here, it’s an important time to get out and vote.”

On Nov. 8, the organization invites everyone to join them in the student center for an election-day watch-night event beginning at 6:30 p.m..

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Media Contact: Anthony Howard, Anthony.J.Howard@jsums.edu