What You Need to Know About The 2018 Election

The Lance’s guide to the midterms


This Tuesday, November 6th, is Election Day. It’s finally time to celebrate the end of the aesthetically unappealing campaign posters on everyone’s lawns. More importantly, it is the 2018 midterm elections, and along with the 5th District’s Congressional race, New Jersey has a Senate seat up for grabs.

Currently, Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress. Should Democrats succeed in Tuesday’s election, they would take back the either the House of Representatives and possibly even the Senate, making it harder for President Trump to pass his agenda.

Many political experts suggest midterm elections are merely contests to see which party is best at driving its base to the polls. Midterm voter turnout is typically much lower, as many independents and politically unengaged citizens tend to lack the motivation to go to the polls. Also, absent the circus of a presidential campaign, there is usually less enthusiasm among all voters, and the election isn’t covered wall-to-wall by the media.

The national voter turnout rate in 2012, the year of the Obama-Romney campaign, was 57.5%. The following midterm election of 2014 saw a turnout rate of 36.4%, a 72-year record low, according to PBS. Among young people, these rates are even lower.

There are very few things today that are truly bipartisan. Luckily, one sacrosanct principle that both Republicans and Democrats uphold is that everyone, with an informed opinion, should get out and vote.

A noticeable trend is that candidates in both the 5th Congressional District and Senate races have relatively moderate positions. Therefore, the candidates do not necessarily echo the most extreme sentiments their respective parties hold.

Here are some things you should know before voting this Tuesday, November 6th (unless otherwise noted, all information comes from the candidates’ official websites):

US Senate Race: Incumbent Bob Menendez (D) faces a challenge from Bob Hugin (R)

  • A Republican has not won a US Senate Race in New Jersey since Clifford Case was re-elected to his final term in office in 1972.
  • According to Real Clear Politics, Menendez enjoys a 7.6 point advantage over Hugin. At no point in recent weeks has Hugin lead in the polls; however, most pollsters are hesitant to simply write this election off as a certain victory for the Democrats.
  • Menendez was recently embroiled in a corruption scandal involving receiving gifts in exchange for doing favors for a wealthy Florida doctor. That trial ended in a hung jury and a mistrial.
  • Hugin is a former pharmaceutical executive. It is his first time seeking elected office. He previously served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention as a supporter of then-candidate Donald Trump, and later on his transition team.
HealthcareMenendez- Was one of the principal authors of the Affordable Care Act, and supports its preservation
Hugin- Would support certain aspects of Obamacare, such as covering pre-existing conditions and allowing people to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they are 26

- Would “limit monthly out-of-pocket expenses” and cap drug co-pays at $50

- Overall, is reform-minded when it comes to the current healthcare system and supports a major overhaul
GunsMenendez- Wants a reinstatement of the 1994 assault weapons ban; sponsored a bill to ban high-capacity magazines; overall wants stricter gun control measures enforced
Hugin- Is a strong “supporter of the Second Amendment”

- Remarkable because as a Republican he supports universal background checks, thinks those on the terror watch list should be banned from buying firearms, opposes proposal to arm teachers
ImmigrationMenendez- Member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” which tried to strengthen law enforcement at the border, while allowing a path to citizenship

- Believes in an immigration overhaul and has condemned Trump’s rhetoric regarding the topic
Hugin- Supports a stricter enforcement of existing laws and birthright citizenship; opposes sanctuary cities

- Believes in a path to citizenship for DREAMers and others who “may not have come here legally”

US House of Representatives Race: Incumbent Josh Gottheimer (D) battles in his first re-election race against John McCann (R)

  • A freshman representative, this is Gottheimer’s first campaign since unseating incumbent Scott Garrett in ( R ) in 2016.
  • Gottheimer won the district by 4 points, while Trump took a narrow, 1 point victory, two years ago.
TaxesGottheimer- Opposes the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

- Introduced and passed a plan that would give NJ taxpayers a cut by “allowing them to donate to new charitable funds set up in their towns”

- Won the US Chamber of Commerce’s “Spirit of Enterprise” Award, given to “pro-business” representatives
McCann- Works to make “the tax code more favorable to small businesses”
- Supports the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but understands the concerns of the elimination of state and local tax deductions, and says he “will work to fix this pertinent concern”
EducationGottheimer- Wants schools to emphasize STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) to prepare kids for the workforce

- Supports boosting the efficiency of training programs related to technology

- Sees the need to incentivize “college completion” and to “better match college training with employer needs”
McCann- Believes in “school choice”, meaning families have options of where to send their kids, rather than students being assigned to schools based off their residence
InfrastructureGottheimer- Also wants to spend money to improve infrastructure

- During his time in Congress, he secured funding for the Gateway Program, which sets up rail lines between Newark and Penn Station in NYC
McCann- Sees our infrastructure as in need of an update and seeks to achieve this through “private-public partnerships” between the federal government and NGO’s or private corporations