Shirley Arabin – Prof Dan Zirker: The US Mid-Term Elections


Professor Dan Zirker, current Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Waikato and previously from the University of Montana recently revealed some of the mysteries of the American political system to a large Tauranga audience and Shirley Arabin was there.

Mid-term elections in the United States refer to those held two years after the quadrennial (four-year) elections for the President.

All the seats in the Federal House of Representatives are up for election and about a third of the seats in the Senate. There are also State Governors, members of State legislatures and also elections at municipal levels. Also there can be citizens’ initiatives which appear to be what we would call referendums. The Professor showed an extensive voting paper for his home county that included offices from the Senate down to his sheriff.

Personally I found it interesting to learn that the political parties do not have a platform or policies as we know them, but rather depend on personality of the candidate for success in elections. Often a Democrat, say could have more conservative views on issues such as gun law or abortion that the Republican who is standing against him.

Voter turn-out is low compared with New Zealand. 57% voted in the 2012 presidential election and it is common for this to drop to 40% for the mid-term elections.

The speaker’s quick reply when asked the inevitable “What will you take back home from New Zealand?” question was “Manuka Honey”.

Shirley Arabin, genealogist and historian writes for the Historic Review, BOP Journal of History and the Tauranga Historical Society blog. She has had articles published in Ireland and Australia. An inveterate visitor to galleries and museums wherever she travels. A volunteer at the Tauranga Heritage Collection.


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