Midterm Election Rundown

On Tues., Nov. 6, 2018, the entirety of the United States held its breath as citizens anxiously awaited the results of the Midterm Election. Republicans were hoping to maintain total control of Congress to push for further conservative tax plans and to break down the Affordable Care Act. Democrats were hoping for a blue wave to engulf both House and Senate to stop and correct injustices committed by the Trump administration. Ultimately, neither party gained exactly what they wanted; however, this midterm has some very interesting implications as Americans gear up for the 2020 presidential election. 

Voter turnout was projected to be at a record high this Midterm, which was prevalent even at the polls in the Ohio Union. In Ohio, Republicans were able to nab a majority of the races they wanted and were able to kill Issue One. There were many upsets nationally which ultimately led to a Republican controlled Senate and a Democrat controlled House of Representatives. Overall, there were many important results from November 6th that can be hard to keep track of unless broken down. 

Before going farther, I would like to address my background in politics and the myth of apolitical scholarship. I am a political science major at The Ohio State University and have taken such political classes as Intro to Political Theory, and Law and Politics. Law and Politics, in particular, was concerned with voting and election law. Therefore, I am very well versed in the topics of elections and voters rights. Furthermore, I would like to address that, due to my personal background, I am fairly far left on the political spectrum. As such, this article will be biased in favor of left politicians. Scholarship is never apolitical due to the bias inherent in the human experience. This is especially true when speaking about politics. Therefore, I find lying about being unbiased to be a disservice to my readers and myself. If you would like to read results without an associated opinion, check out CNN or ABC news. Let’s get into the material you all came here for. Voting nationwide was at a record high for a Midterm Election especially among young people. Colleges especially experienced high turnout which was prevalent at the Ohio Union on Tuesday. Those handing out sample ballots to those heading in to vote said that they had never received such a warm welcome at the polls. They were also impressed by the amount of people heading in to vote especially during a Midterm Election. Nationwide an estimated 49 percent of eligible voters participated in this election which is extremely high for a Midterm. Turnout is a testament to the power of spending time and money motivating people to register and vote. Turnout has great implications especially when younger people are engaged in politics. Younger people tend to lean Democrat especially when they are college age. 

Voting at the polls was not without some concerns however. I noticed as I waited for my friend to finish voting that many people walked out, deterred from voting by a poll worker, only to be pulled back in by other volunteers to vote via provisional ballot. I have to wonder how many people were missed because the voter rolls were not up to date and the workers were unaware of conditions for provisional ballots. Such an instance occurred to another friend of mine. Furthermore, even a jump in turnout can have a lessened effect due to gerrymandered districts. 

Ohio is a prime example of a state which has been heavily gerrymandered. In a separate article, I will examine the effects of Ohio gerrymandering versus the changes to the Pennsylvania new redistricting system. The effects of the gerrymandered districts in Ohio may have had an effect on the high amount of Republicans winning house seats. For the House seats, incumbents won each of their districts which is very typical. Furthermore Mike DeWine, the Republican candidate, won the gubernatorial race. Finally, Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, won the Senate seat. Issue One, in addition, failed to pass on Tuesday. The reasons for the failure of this bill may have been to lack of Democrat candidate support and funding for counter attack ads. Further explanation of this bill and the reasons it failed will be addressed at a later time. 

Nationwide there were a series of upsets on both sides which have implications for how both parties were able to cause these upsets. Overall, Republicans were able to win a majority of the gubernatorial races and maintain control of the Senate. The Democrats were able to win control of the House, which was a major victory for their party. In two of the Senate races, a Democrat incumbent lost to the Republican candidate. The Democrats were able to gain the 23 seats they needed to win the House majority and then some in an impressive amount of pickups. The House races lead to a record number of women in winning seats. In addition, the House races led to an increase in diversity such as the first Muslim women and the first Native American women in Congress. The House races also showed an impressive amount of Democrat pickups in Pennsylvania. The amount of pickups are due to the redistricting of the state after a mass push back against the states gerrymandering. (.​)    

The races that most were holding their breaths for were the races in Texas, Georgia, and Florida. The Texas Senate race between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz was extremely impressive and surprising. Texas is a historically red state which fosters a lot of support for incumbent Cruz. The race ended with Cruz’s victory, however, the race was 50.9 percent to 48.3 percent. This is much closer than anyone would have expected. Georgia is likely to go into a runoff election for the governorship between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp. Kemp is currently ahead by 68,000 votes, however, there are an expected 77,000 ballots from early mail voters from heavily Democratic leaning districts. Georgia is definitely a state to keep an eye on in the following weeks. Finally, Florida had one of the biggest disappointments and victories for the Democrat party. The Democrat candidate for Senate lost a very close race. However, on the morning of Sat., Nov. 10 (four full days after election night), it was announced that full, statewide recounts were ordered for the gubernatorial and senate races, and a few less prominent state elections. 

The persistence of Florida going red may be coming to an end. Issue Four passed on Tuesday which is a huge victory for the Democrats. Issue Four re-enfranchised 1.4 million people who previously could not vote due to felony convictions. Many of these people will be voting Democrat in the future elections due to Democrats pushing for voting rights. Had Issue Four passed earlier there may have been a very different result in Florida. Due to Florida being a swing state the passing of Issue Four puts Democrats in an extremely good position heading into the 2020 election. Before the 2020 election, Democrats must stick to their principles to block unjust legislation pushed by the Trump administration, and continue to motivate voters. 

With control of the House, Democrats are in a good position to block legislation while promoting their own agenda. As the majority party Democrats will now be heading all of the committees such as the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. With this they can further investigations into Trump’s administration which is deeply important after the firing of Jeff Sessions. Furthermore as the majority party they will be able to appoint a Speaker of the House. This brings about the question who should the new Speaker be? Many are in favor of Nancy Pelosi as she was the minority party leader and has served as Speaker before. However, I am personally not convinced of Pelosi’s abilities. 

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Pelosi’s poor motivation skills were prevalent during her victory speech on Tuesday. She started her speech with a roll call, never a good move, which lead to a slow intro and little enthusiasm. The content of her speech left much to be desired as she did not lay out a solid plan going into the House. She touched briefly on values she would push for, such as health care, but those should have been the bulk of her speech rather than a side note. In addition, Pelosi has a generally low approval rating among voters as she is seen as being too centrist. She is too willing to give leeway when she should be standing strong in her beliefs. Last year, in polls done by CNN and the Huffington Post, she only gained an approval rating of 29 percent. Pelosi still runs on her achievement of stabilizing the car industry. She did that 10 years ago. Since she has not been a part of any major movement and does a poor job of motivating the base. Due to her low approval rating among Democrats and her highly visible position, Republicans have used Pelosi’s leadership to gain support from moderates and moderate-Democrats. Overall Pelosi is not the right choice for Speaker of the House. If the Democrats are to have continued success they must appoint someone who can keep the base motivated and who will not back down from a challenge. 

Ultimately, with control of the House and the passing of progressive Amendments, Democrats are in a very good position to prevent the continuation of inhumane acts by the Trump administration. Furthermore, due to the unpopularity of the administration and the mass support for Democrats in the Midterms, there is a good chance that a Democrat will win the Presidential election in 2020. There is much work to be done, however, as Democrats must appoint a Speaker who will not back down from a challenge and continue to motivate their base. The blue wave has begun it is now up to those in office to ride it into the White House. 

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