Midterm Elections: How 1994 Midterms Set Off an Era of Divisive Politics

Lesson Duration

From Retro Report

“Midterm elections, often a referendum on the sitting president’s agenda, can set the stage for future policy debates. Economic and social issues with roots in the 1994 midterms are still being debated today.”

This short documentary (10:35) Midterm Elections: How 1994 Midterms Set Off an Era of Divisive Politics is part of the Midterm Elections Collection focusing on historical and contemporary midterm elections; presented in partnership with Retro Report and New Hampshire Public Radio’s Civics 101 podcast. Transcript included.

Candidates & Campaigns Lesson 

Students will:

  • Explain how midterm elections are different from presidential elections and why they are important in American politics.
  • Analyze how the changing media landscape affected the functioning of government during and after the 1994 midterm election.
  • Analyze contemporary political issues and identify connections and draw distinctions between the 1994 and current midterm elections.

Issues and Actions Lesson

Students will:

  • Analyze issues from the 1994 midterm elections and summarize how those issues affected voters.
  • Examine primary and secondary source documents to determine the key main idea and supporting details.
  • Make comparisons and connections between political issues from 1994 and the present day.



Retro Report is a documentary news organization dedicated to examining stories after their headlines fade; it is non-partisan, independent and nonprofit.