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Study Notes

Unit 3 Essay Examples: "Mid-term elections are just a referendum on the presidency"

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

This Study Note contains the key terms that you would need to include if you chose to answer this question, along with 10 great examples that you could use to support your arguments.

So, before having a go at answering the question, make sure you can explain what each of the following terms means:

  • Mid-Term Elections
  • House of Representatives
  • Senate
  • Halfway through a President’s term
  • Congressional Seats
  • Nationalised campaigns
  • Presidential record
  • Coat-Tails effect
  • Congressional record
  • Power of Incumbency
  • Democrats
  • Republicans
  • Contract with America
  • Referendum
  • Popularity of the president
  • Voting Behaviour

Contemporary Examples

Midterms are a referendum on the Presidency

  1. The record of President Bush in 2006 was not popular especially after Hurricane Katrina, which caused the Republicans to lose seats
  2. In 2002 when the Republicans won seats mid-term this was due to Bush’s War on Terror and his domestic agenda that featured tax cuts
  3. In 2010, the Obama record of government was a deciding factor in handing the Republican Party control of the House of Representatives.

Midterms are not a referendum on the Presidency

  1. In 2010 the Republican’s campaigned hard against a Democrat controlled Congress which cumulated in the Pelosi-Reid agenda
  2. Individual campaigns could have a significant impact on the overall results such as Virginia Senator George Allen in 2006.
  3. In the 2010 midterms, the power of the incumbency for House elections fell below 90% for the first time in 30 years.

Historical Examples

Midterms are a referendum on the Presidency

  1. In 1994 the Republican’s announced a nationalised campaign known as the Contract with America which played on Clinton’s record and promised Republican Government.
  2. In 1934 the Democrats managed to win Congressional seats under Franklin Roosevelt, down to his record on the New Deal.

Midterms are not a referendum on the Presidency

  1. In 1998, Republican’s campaigned hard for impeachment of Bill Clinton, which in effect may have resulted in Republican’s losing seats and Democrats gaining them.
  2. In 1980 the power of the incumbency was low with only 55% of those incumbents returning.

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