Think this Election Day doesn't matter? Think again. From the Iraq war to the future of Social Security, from the fate of pension plans to the complexities of long-term care, Americans have a huge stake in politics 2006.
This could be the most important election in a decade, experts say, even though the presidency is not up for grabs. The outcome of the midterm elections of all U.S. House members, 33 senators and 36 governors could determine the course of the nation for years to come.
In sizing up candidates, voters have a lot of issues on their minds -- and many reasons to vote. In an AARP Bulletin poll of 1,000 Americans 18 and older conducted by International Communications Research of Media, Penn., the war in Iraq topped the list of their concerns.
Next in line are the cost of health care and prescription drugs, corruption in government, energy prices and Social Security's future. Yet those concerns are all overshadowed by the war.
"The war in Iraq is the biggest thing right now," says Jim Thielen, 49, of Pierre, S.D. "The economy isn't so great, and it doesn't seem like we're accomplishing things over there, and we're spending all this money. I think the money would be better spent here," he says, perhaps to shore up Social Security.
Not every problem will be resolved within the next two years, but who sits in those seats might change the way some problems are approached, setting the stage for the political debate of the presidential election in 2008.