The polls have now closed on the 2010 Elections: thanks to all who voted and who volunteered for Seventy's Election Day program. And thanks to Philly.com for making this news and information collaboration possible.
The next election will be the May 2011 municipal primary in Philadelphia.
For Election Day 2010 news, check out Philly.com,
The kind of people we elect matters. The consequences of their decisions are enormous – they help determine what kind of community you live in, what kind of school your kids attend, how much you pay in taxes, and how safe you are in your home and neighborhood.
And there’s an important election looming on the horizon - November 2. Up for grabs is control of the state government in Harrisburg and the Congress in Washington, D.C. The winners will have to deal with a bad economy, high unemployment, and a disgruntled population, unhappy after almost three years of hard times.
Some voters are angry and fired up. In primary elections, they've already turned out some longtime incumbents (including one here in Pennsylvania) and defeated some candidates that in years past would have walked to easy election. And yet polls show that many voters don't seem that interested yet. They don't know their candidates and they don't seem to make the connection between the people who represent them in government and the way they live their everyday lives.
That’s why the Committee of Seventy and Philly.com are joining forces this election season to deliver focused, non-partisan, and substantive coverage of key races in our area, explaining what’s at stake and what the people running for these offices are doing and saying about the issues. We'll be talking about this through Election Day, on November 2.
So why is the committee of seventy teaming up with Philly.com?
We each have something to contribute – The Committee of Seventy has established itself as a nonpartisan resource, and we can give clear, concise, and balanced descriptions of important issues
that come up. Philly.com
has the resources of a well-established news organization, so they can provide reporting and daily information on what the candidates are saying
, including stories, pictures, audio, and video. We see that combination as a powerful way to help voters understand why this election matters.
Ok, so why DOES this election matter then?
Whoever wins will have to confront a sagging economy, declining government revenue, and the real possibility of layoffs and service cuts in government at all levels. In Washington, the winners will have to deal with stimulating the economy, sustaining the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and supporting or opposing the agenda of President Obama.
But why should I bother to vote?
Every vote matters, particularly in a year where there is no big presidential race to get everyone excited. Look what happened in Delaware recently: upstart Republican Christine O'Donnell beat the well-known and establishment-backed candidate for Senate, Mike Castle. O'Donnell's victory surprised the country and sent shockwaves through the Republican Party, but the difference between her and Castle was only 3,500 votes
. If Castle had managed to get only a few thousand extra supporters to the polls, the political story would be entirely different today.
What races will you and Philly.com be looking at?
We’ve picked what we think are the six most important races in the area – for governor and U.S Senate in Pennsylvania, three congressional races in Pennsylvania, and one congressional race in New Jersey. In the governor and senate race, and one of the congressional races, there is no incumbent running for reelection, so the seats are wide open to both parties.
Why just those races? Aren’t the others important too?
Sure they are, but in many cases they really aren’t that competitive – historically, the incumbent wins in most congressional races. There are also state legislative races up for grabs in Pennsylvania, but most of those will either not be competitive or will focus on such highly local issues that it would be hard for us to follow them closely in this project. The races we did pick we think will tell us something about the mood of the country, the issues facing the entire region, and in the case of the Senate and congressional elections, decide who controls Capitol Hill for the rest of President Obama’s first term in office. (Here's a list of all the regional races).
Where can I find out more about these races you feature?
The Committee of Seventy has a brief summary of each race, along with links to the candidates’ official campaign sites. Philly.com has a page for each race with information about the candidates and what each one is saying about the issues we'll be talking about over the next month. The Committee of Seventy also has resources in our regular Elections Section to find out more even about the races we are not featuring in this project, including information on some interesting underdogs, independents, and minor party candidates (look here for Pennsylvania races and here for New Jersey races).
Let's start at the top: what’s so important about the Governor’s race?
In Harrisburg, the winner will have to confront the never-ending sea of red ink that has put pressure on the state budget just at the time as costs are soaring to sustain services for the growing ranks of the unemployed. At the same, he will need to deal with ethics and fighting systemic corruption, address efforts to expand gambling, and decide whether to allow the environmentally sensitive drilling for natural gas in the state’s extensive shale rock formations - and how much the drilling companies should pay the state in taxes.
What about the Senate and House of Representatives races?
Those races are also fascinating. Both parties are expecting the Democrats, who control both chambers of Congress, to lose seats in both the House and Senate. But the question is whether the voters are angry enough to kick out enough Democrats to give Republicans control of one, or even both, chambers of Congress.
Why does control of Congress matter?
If Republicans are in charge, it will be much harder for President Obama to get his way on almost any issue, from his budget priorities to his nominees for judgeships to how to fight terrorism and run the wars overseas. There are substantial differences of opinion between Republicans and Democrats on a whole range of issues, including taxes, government support of the economy, gun control, abortion, and our relationship with foreign nations. Whoever controls Congress has a lot to say on those matters and more.
Can our area really make a difference in the control of Congress?
Absolutely. The races we have picked, including the Senate race, are among the most closely-watched in the nation, and both national parties will be pouring money and volunteers into the area. Of the four House races we’re watching, two are controlled by vulnerable Democrats, one is controlled by a vulnerable Republican, and one is an open seat with no incumbent. In the Senate race, a Democratic incumbent is retiring after losing his party's primary election, leaving the seat wide open for either party.
So what can I expect from this Committee of Seventy/Philly.com project?
The Committee of Seventy will profile an important issue every week, using our In the Know series, which lays out complex issues in a simple question-and-answer format. Philly.com will report on what the candidates are saying about that issue, and provide links to daily coverage of the races. Together, we hope this results in a more complete and nuanced view of how this election is playing out.
The Committee of Seventy will be publishing issue-based information on our "Issues in Election 2010" page. The coverage at Philly.com will be here. Or you can go directly to the coverage of the specific races:
Pennsylvania U.S. Senate
Pennsylvania 6th Congressional District
Pennsylvania 7th Congressional District
Pennsylvania 8th Congressional District
New Jersey 3rd Congressional District
But how do I know what Congressional district I am in?
Good question, and we can help. Visit The Committee of Seventy's Online Citizen's Guide for information on what district you live in, who your elected officials are at all levels (whether they are up for election this year or not), how to contact them, and where to vote on Election Day.
How Can I let you know what I think? What if I have a suggestion or comment?
You can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Philly.com welcomes comments at feedback@Philly.com. Please let us know your opinion, or make a suggestion if you know of an issue or particular race we should be talking about.
Zack surveys the election and explains the Committee of Seventy (video courtesy Philly.com)