The United States is approaching a pivotal mid-term election, one that will have far reaching ramifications. Sweden’s close ties to the U.S. make this topic all the more relevant.
Tuesday December 3rd, AmCham Sweden’s Media Working Group held an afternoon seminar at H+K Strategies to discuss the upcoming mid-term elections. The briefing was led by Ian Bald - Information, Research and Communications (IRC) Director at the U.S. Embassy Sweden and Mikael Törnwall - former U.S. correspondent for Dagens Industri and Senior Advisor at H+K Strategies.
Bald began by providing a brief background to the situation in the U.S., “The Constitution says very little about the design of elections.” Stating that this was left out on purpose and it was for the states and political parties to decide. “This is part of the Federalist nature of the United States,” remarked Bald.
He moved on to the upcoming mid-term elections while stressing their importance. “Typically, these elections have lower voter participation and around 90% of incumbents are reelected,” stated Bald. He pointed out that this reveals the divide between the general dislike of Congress and the support of one’s own congressman.
Törnwall explained the happenings in both the 2010 and 2012 elections on a congressional level, “In 2010 the Republicans did very well however the Tea Party allowed for several key democrats to be reelected, such as Senator Harry Reid.” Törnwall went on to say, “in the 2012 elections, the Democrats should have been wiped out of the White House based on historical trends, however, this was not the case,” while alluding that the Tea Party yet again hindered the Republicans.
In regards to the 2014 elections, Törnwall stated, “Everything points in the direction that the Republicans should hold the House and take back the Senate,” while quickly adding that the primaries will tell the story. “It all depends on who the Republicans nominate and what happens with the debt ceiling, that will be a very good indicator,” remarked Törnwall.
Bald stated that immigration would also be a critical issue in the upcoming races while explaining “single issue voting plays a crucial role in the way elections are shaped.” Törnwall added, “The Republican party will have to find it’s way back towards the center as minority populations increase.”
Both Bald and Törnwall noted that many aspects of U.S. elections are often hard to understand from an external context. “The issue of voter registration is not relevant in Sweden and other media tactics are unique to the U.S.,” remarked Bald. Regardless of strategies utilized, Törnwall stated that the results of the mid-termelection will have a long-term effect on Sweden.