By Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor
With less than a week to go until Election Day, you’re probably tired of hearing about the pros and cons of voting for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
But don’t stop listening to the non-stop political ads or reading the hundreds of articles just yet, especially since the most important race of this election, particularly for Pennsylvania residents, has nothing to do with Trump or Clinton.
Instead, it’s the race for the Pennsylvania Senate seat that’s boiling down between sitting Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and Democratic hopeful Katie McGinty, who has a significant chance to beat him.
As of Nov. 1, McGinty by more than two points, according to a Huffington Post poll tracker.
I’ll be the first to admit that politics is not something I avidly follow outside of the year or so leading up to the presidential election. However, that’s not an excuse – for anyone – to be uninformed about the stances these candidates have taken on central issues facing this nation today, such as the United States’ involvement in Syria. It’s vital that we care enough to vote beyond the president in the first place.
Here’s the number one reason why you should care about the ongoing race between Toomey and McGinty: Whoever wins could decide the party majority of the Senate.
Currently, most of the senators are Republican, with 54 members belonging to the GOP, 44 members to the Democratic Party and two who are Independent. However, 34 of those 100 seats are up for reelection this season, according to the Washington Post, and 24 of those seats are being defended by Republican incumbents, compared to just 10 for Democrats. This means that the Democratic Party only needs to win four or five of those seats to take control of the Senate.
According to 270 to Win, there are at least six states considered to be toss-ups at this point; the election could go either way, for either Senate candidate. One of these states is Pennsylvania, which is why it is paramount to be heavily informed on what Toomey and McGinty believe. When we vote, we are deciding how a body of Congress will be making decisions for the next six years.
That being said, here’s a quick guide to where Toomey and McGinty stand on various matters America is dealing with today.
For starters, McGinty has strongly endorsed Clinton for president, whereas Toomey has been wishy-washy in his support of a candidate. According to Politico, Toomey said both candidates were “badly flawed,” while also adding that he “could never vote for Hilary Clinton.” His unwillingness to make a firm decision on who he will vote for as president has been fodder for McGinty’s campaign and has also hurt him in the polls.
McGinty, who has a robust background in environmental policy, supports President Barack Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” which would try to limit the volume of greenhouse gases resulting from human activities. She also supports federal regulation of fracking. Toomey, on the other hand, opposes both of these issues.
Both McGinty and Toomey oppose the use of ground troops in Syria to combat ISIS. Additionally, McGinty supports Obama’s Affordable Care Act, whereas the Republican incumbent voted to repeal it in favor of creating a healthcare system that is less expensive, more portable and is renewable.
On immigration, Toomey has said that Trump’s plan to build a wall along this country’s border with Mexico and to deport every illegal immigrant is not realistic, according to CBS Pittsburgh. However, he opposes the 2013 bill that allows for those living illegally within the U.S. to have a path toward citizenship. McGinty supports this bill.
No matter which candidate strikes you as the most qualified for the job or aligns themselves the most with your own personal political views, one thing must happen for everyone: On Nov. 8, take 20 minutes, get out there and vote. The future of America depends on it.