50 Issues That Could Affect the Last 50 Days of Election 2018 | NTK Network 50 Issues That Could Affect the Last 50 Days of Election 2018

50 Issues That Could Affect the Last 50 Days of Election 2018

Breaking down the panoply of issues that, together, will decide who controls the House, the Senate, and the nation's governorships after November 6.

By NTK Staff | 09.17.2018 @1:30pm
50 Issues That Could Affect the Last 50 Days of Election 2018

Monday, September 17 marks 50 days until Election Day 2018, which will be Tuesday, November 6.

Though some pundits and political observers in Washington, D.C. will claim that control of the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, and the nation’s governorships hinges on this issue or that issue, in reality dozens of issues will impact the midterms.

Though it is impossible to limit the discussion of issues that could impact races around the country, NTK Network is offering up 50 issues that will play a key role in determining the results of 2018 elections. Here’s our list, broken up into 10 larger categories.


  • Donald Trump: It’s no secret that the president, who is both unpredictable and polarizing, will play a big role in the midterms. Whether his activity helps or hurts candidates will depend on a lot of factors.
  • 2020 Democrats: Senators who are either not up for reelection or have easy reelection efforts – Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for example, respectively – are nonetheless helping midterm candidates around the country in a possible effort to shore up support for a presidential run.
  • Hillary Clinton: Even though she has supposedly retired from electoral politics, the two-time former presidential candidate is still a national figure and will lend her voice and reach to candidates throughout the next 50 days.
  • Barack Obama: Ditto for the former president, who rolled out his first set of endorsements earlier this summer, and has returned to the campaign trail.
  • The resistance/insurgence: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her allies have upended the Democratic Party – in part on big, liberal ideas (see below), and in part on opposing Trump at every turn. Will they succeed in November?


  • The Mueller investigation: It’s unclear when or how Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will turn out, but the daily developments could continue to reach midterm voters.
  • Corruption: Democrats are already seizing on real and alleged corruption in the Trump administration as an argument for why they should be in charge.


  • Women running in record numbers: More women are running (and winning) in the 2018 cycle than in any previous cycle. Congress may look much different in November.
  • The #MeToo movement: As the recent scandal involving Judge Brett Kavanaugh shows (see below), the #MeToo movement is not only a social driver, but it’s a movement with political power, too.


  • Jobs numbers: The U.S. economy keeps adding jobs, and President Trump has bragged more on the country’s economic performance under his watch than any other issue. Will the economy help Republicans keep Congress?
  • Tariffs: If one economic issue could be Trump’s undoing, it’s this. The president’s tariffs on China and the EU are raising prices on certain goods, and consumers may soon feel the heat.
  • NAFTA: Many parts of the country that voted for Trump in 2016 felt stung by the decades-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Can Trump renegotiate a better deal for them?
  • Tax cuts: The GOP tax cuts may feel like a distant memory, but they were passed only 10 months ago. Will the boost to incomes and businesses help the GOP keep their majorities?
  • Minimum wage: The Fight for $15, organized by Big Labor, is still a major movement in parts of the country.
  • Inequality: Beyond just the minimum wage, a key sticking point for Democrats opposed to the tax cuts are that some of the benefits flow to the wealthy taxpayers and corporations.


  • Health care costs: Does this one sound familiar? The high cost of health care in the U.S. will again be an issue this fall, with both parties offering up ways to curb rising costs.
  • ObamaCare: Republicans blame ObamaCare for those rising health care costs. Democrats are intent on saving the law from repeal. For the fifth straight election cycle, ObamaCare will be an issue.
  • Medicare For All: Enter the Democrats’ new idea for health care. Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders are pressing the issue, and it could become a 2020 theme.
  • Opioid crisis: Parts of New England, the midwest, and the south have been ravaged by the opioid crisis, though its impact has reach every state in the union.
  • Abortion: Abortion is an issue that could fire up pro-choice liberals, especially as it pertains to the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Kennedy’s retirement.


  • Russian interference: Is Russia attempting to influence the results of American elections again? Evidence says yes. How will members of both parties react?
  • Russia: Beyond just interference, Russia remains a U.S. adversary on several issues around the world, from U.S.-EU relations to Syria to Ukraine.
  • North Korea: Trump’s historic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un seems like it was years ago. U.S.-North Korea relations can still change on a dime.
  • China: Arguably Trump’s greatest ‘frenemy’ of his early presidency, U.S.-China relations touch a number of other issues on this list (tariffs, North Korea). But how the U.S. deals with the world’s most populated country will matter going forward.
  • Iran: Trump shook up global relations earlier this year when he pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Israel: Many voters, particularly Republican voters, insist their candidates stand by Israel, one of America’s top allies. What happens with Iran, listed above, has a major impact on Israel.
  • America’s wars: America still has a military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and other countries around the world. The War on Terror is ongoing. It won’t motivate voters like the wars did in 2006, but they matter.


  • SCOTUS: With the Kavanaugh nomination in apparent limbo, what happens with the Supreme Court could motivate conservative voters, especially if a new nominee needs to be vetted and confirmed later in 2018 or in 2019.
  • The border wall: Once mocked by pundits and politicians, Trump’s desired border wall between the U.S. and Mexico is now a staple issue for many conservative voters. The rallying cry? “Build the wall!”


  • Climate change: Moderate Democrats and liberal Democrats disagree over how to address climate change – the latter favor radical ideas like ‘100 percent renewable energy’ – but most Democrats agree climate change is an issue that requires immediate attention.
  • Teacher pay: Teachers around the country went on strike this year for better pay. They’re organized, generally liberal, and could impact the midterms.
  • Student loans: It’s a primary motivator for young people, many of whom are dealing with thousands of dollars in loans (or more).
  • Tuition-free college: Some liberal Democrats want to make loans (above) a thing of the past by making colleges around the country tuition-free.
  • Net neutrality: After the Trump administration pursued a cancelation of Obama-era net neutrality rules, liberals pledged to fight back. Will they fight back at the polls?
  • DACA: The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program may expire on Trump’s watch, but liberals have come to the defense of DACA recipients, better known as DREAMers.
  • Family separation: One of a few items on this list that qualifies as a self-inflicted penalty – by Trump, on Trump – the family separation crisis from this spring still resonates with voters.
  • Gun violence: The Parkland students are among the activists organizing for mostly Democratic candidates, who are pledging to address gun violence with legislation on the Hill.


  • Hurricanes/natural disasters: It’s hurricane season. Though Florence could have been even worse than it was, hurricanes can impact both turnout and choice in elections.
  • Terrorism: While America has enjoyed relative safety in the last few years, a terrorist attack – here or elsewhere, by ISIS, al Qaeda, or some lone wolf – could upend state or national politics.
  • The economy: Some think America is overdue for another economic recession. If that happens before the midterms, it will surely have an effect.
  • Gas prices: Americans vote with their eyes. If they see gas prices going up, could they punish their incumbent leaders?
  • Candidate-specific issues: Of course, candidates matter. Some candidates are already facing controversies, and others will face new controversies between now and Election Day.
  • Debates and gaffes: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) looked headed to defeat in 2012 before her opponent, Todd Akin, made comments about “legitimate rape” in a debate. Debates matter.
  • State-specific issues: Ballot initiatives, state scandals or disasters – voters are usually a lot more attuned to issues impacting their state than they are to issues impacting the entire country.


  • The debt: It’s $21 trillion and rising.
  • Social Security: It was the Obama playbook in 2012: suggest Republicans will decimate Social Security. Some Democratic candidates could still run on that playbook in 2018.
  • Veterans and the VA: The Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal still has impacts in individual states, and affects the veterans’ vote at large.
  • Big Tech: Facebook, Twitter, Google – they’ve all dealt with scandals in the past few years. Some candidates want to rein them in.
  • Rural broadband: It’s a wonky issue, but some candidates for office are running on rural matters, including providing high-speed internet to parts of the country that don’t have it.
  • Media coverage: How media cover candidates matters, as well. If media write off a candidate, or promote another – either inadvertently or on purpose – they could sway election results.
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