There's no escaping it: The economy is the issue in Tuesday's (November 2) midterm elections. Thanks to stubborn, nearly double-digit unemployment, a foreclosure crisis and the near total meltdown of the U.S. economy, almost all Americans have been touched by the Great Recession in some way.
And based on early predictions, they're going to take their frustrations out on the party in power, as Democrats are expected to suffer big losses in Congress and in governor's mansions across the country.
"The Democrats are probably going to suffer in these midterm elections, because the economy hasn't gone well and we haven't turned things around; it's been a slow process," said Democrat Corey Johnson, 28, who works as the director of government affairs for a financial firm after putting in time as a Barack Obama delegate in 2008 and on a number of campaigns for local and state government in New York.
"People have said that the Republican Party has become the party of 'no,' and I'm not sure what the solution is or what they've proposed to try to fix things in a big way," he said, expressing fear that the talk of change has not been accompanied by many specifics on how the GOP will run Washington differently.
For their part, many members of the Republican Party seeking to oust Democratic rivals have vowed to roll back many of the costly reforms put in place by the Obama administration since 2009 in an effort to ward off a complete financial collapse. In their place, they have promised to implement more tax cuts to spur the economy and a greater emphasis on reducing the country's ballooning deficit.
"The sweeping reforms that have been put in place by this administration ... at least for now has made it harder to hire people," countered Republican Brian Morgenstern, 28, a consultant on a number of GOP campaigns in New York and a former staffer for John McCain during his 2008 presidential bid. He said young voters and teens are going to eventually have to pay for the massive spending programs of this administration and the previous Bush White House. "They have borrowed recklessly; they have spent trillions of dollars. ... Who's going to have to pay those down? People who are teenagers now who are going to be getting jobs over the next several years and entering the workforce."
And while young voters were a key factor in President Obama's victory in 2008, Costas Panagopoulos, a political-science professor at Fordham University and executive editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine, said they may not be as eager to come out on Tuesday because of the continuing bad news about the economy.
"Young people were a very crucial part of the Democratic coalition in 2008 that got Obama and many Democrats elected," Panagopoulos said. "The one question they have to keep in mind is: Do they want to keep that legislative program alive? If so, that's one reason to show up and vote. ... When we have an economy like this, it eclipses all other issues, so it's not that social issues are not important, but relative to the economy, they are taking a backseat in 2010."
Johnson said he's mostly afraid that if Republicans take over, they will push through policies that benefit the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the struggling working and middle-class families. "I'll preface this by saying I don't think either party has been great on this issue," Morgenstern said. "My biggest fear is that if the Democrats keep Congress, they will add more inefficiencies into the economy."
Is the economy the top issue on your mind when you vote today? Let us know what you're thinking in the comments below.