The News Roundup You Need This Election Day

The midterm races with the highest stakes, the reality of living on minimum wage, and Aaron Carter’s tragic legacy.

This is an excerpt from Incoming, BuzzFeed News’ morning newsletter dedicated to making sense of this chaotic world we live in. Join the club here.

This Election Day, abortion, voting rights, and democracy are on the line.

Two years since President Joe Biden’s victory, voters are heading to the polls once again on Tuesday for midterm elections that will decide who controls Congress. It’s an election that could also have significant ramifications for democracy and voting rights, given that a majority of Republicans running for office have denied or questioned the outcome of the 2020 election.

Conventional political wisdom (and past precedent) tells us the incumbent party in control of the White House typically experiences voter blowback at their first midterm election. This is especially true during periods of high economic anxiety, like now, as the world confronts a possible global recession amid soaring inflation.

In the House of Representatives, Republicans are favored to win back control of the House of Representatives. And since the last election, the Senate has been evenly divided, leaving Vice President Kamala Harris to cast her tiebreaking vote for major decisions. That means Republicans only need to pick up one seat to control the chamber, but polls have indicated it may be a toss-up.

Below is a quick overview of the House and Senate races that could have especially huge consequences for the future of Congress — and the state of the country overall. For more details on the congressional, gubernatorial, and local races to watch out for, read our full guide.

These are the races to keep an eye on this Election Day.

House of Representatives:

  • Republicans hope a “red wave” across the country will help secure House victories in Michigan’s 7th district, Virginia’s 7th district, and Alaska’s at-large district.

  • For Democrats, Maine’s 2nd district could reveal whether even a centrist Democrat like Rep. Jared Golden is considered too toxic for voters this year. And in New York’s 17th district, Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney finds himself in a surprisingly close contest that, if he loses, could be an ominous sign for the party in 2024.

Senate:

  • In Georgia Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock faces former football star Republican Herschel Walker. However, Walker’s anti-abortion platform has been plagued by allegations that he paid for two former partners to have abortions and disavowals from his son Christian Walker.

  • Republicans also want to take back positions in Arizona and Nevada. In both states, the GOP candidates have narrowly pulled ahead in polls.

  • Pennsylvania’s Senate race between Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz (aka former TV star Dr. Oz) is one of the states Republicans need to hold on to in order to assure they get a majority. Fetterman had a strong polling lead over the summer, but this has shrunk amid attacks from Oz and others that have cast the Democrat as a radical who is still recovering from a stroke.

SNAPSHOTS

These women are fighting for abortion rights in Michigan one vote at a time. “This is a one-shot type of thing,” said Sandra Bucciero, a Yes on 3 organizer and former criminal defense attorney. “If you don’t own your body, you don’t own anything.”

Breast cancer awareness slogans like “Save the Boobies” and “Save Second Base” are factually incorrect and sexualize the disease. The issue is less about an individual’s decision to promote these slogans, and more about companies profiting off of people’s pain in what has come to be known as “pinkwashing.”

Fans are creating dedicated savings funds to buy tickets for Taylor Swift's upcoming tour. It’s been four years and six albums since Swift went on tour, so fans are ready to see their girl hit the stage. “I’ll spend the money and worry about the plan later,” one fan said.

This is what it's like to live on less than $15 an hour.

Minimum wage in the US, at $7.25, hasn’t risen since 2009 — and 26 states prohibit local governments from setting a higher rate. It’s less than $2 higher than it was in 1997, when median rent in the US was around $600, less than half of what it is today. For a wide swath of workers with low incomes, their financial struggles continue on with no help in sight.

“Wages need to be raised,” said hourly wage worker and organizer Tara Thompson. “But I haven’t seen any politicians doing anything about that.”

As costs for housing, gas, and food rise, service workers making low hourly wages at jobs across the country are struggling to earn a living. The “hero pay” raises that companies doled out in the early months of the pandemic to essential wage workers are gone. The government stimulus payments, eviction moratoriums, and increased unemployment assistance that helped families who were making lower incomes to cover basic needs are also gone.

That absence of government support has left service workers to figure out solutions for themselves. Relatives have moved in together, neighbors have carpooled, mutual aid programs have sprouted, loved ones have loaned money, and interpersonal support systems have stretched thin to cover the yawning gaps in America’s social safety net.

“In order to get what you want and get what you need to feel comfortable, you gotta stand up and fight for it,” Tara Milligan, who works at a Dollar Tree in South Carolina, said. “We’re not just gonna take it.”

IMAGE OF THE DAY

Someone with short hair and sunglasses peers over a voting booth with an American flag and the word "vote" on it

Aaron Carter never had a chance.

Green and yellow concentric circles featuring fragments of photos of Aaron Carter

Aaron Carter's career peaked in the nascent days of the 2000s, Scaachi Koul writes, with “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It),” a bubblegum pop rap song that every preteen girl knew by heart. He sold a million albums before he was 10. He was blonde and white and slight, with a bright, friendly smile and a sprightly voice.

He worked tirelessly and relentlessly as a child pop star, but he ended up broke, filing for bankruptcy in 2013 and owing the IRS millions in back taxes as soon as he turned 18. His family was beyond dysfunctional; he had made sexual abuse allegations against one of his three sisters, who had died of a drug overdose years earlier. He accused his brother Nick of abusing him and some of the girls in the family. More recently, Aaron’s former fiancé accused him of physical abuse, and just this September, he lost custody of his infant son.

This past weekend, Aaron was found dead in a bathtub in his home in Lancaster, California. He was just 34. His short life was punctuated by pain and chaos, some foisted upon him and some created by his own hand. Before his tragic death, he had become the personification of the child star who was angry that he couldn’t regain his former glory, burdened by addiction and childhood trauma. He went straight from preteen cutie to a cautionary tale. It feels like he barely had a chance.

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