President of WVU College Republicans Riley Keaton on the 2018 elections

How is your organization preparing for election week?

College Republicans, and part of my leadership committee in the organization, view the organization as a wing of the party, not as a fan club. That’s what happens in a lot of places. You go and talk about how much you like the president, talk about how you’re reacting to most recent news, and share memes. That’s not the case at WVU. When you ask how I’m preparing for election week, this includes lot of volunteer work programs, working events, helping candidates raise money, we staff functions for them, we knocked on several thousand doors and made thousands of calls to others primarily in regions of the state. We focus on an inclusive brand and focus on winning for our candidates.

What’s the importance of voting in midterm elections?

These midterms matter even more than most. There’s a lot at stake for West Virginia. If Democrats regain the majority of the house, impeachment is on the line. This would throw the country into unbelievable chaos for purely political reasons. When it comes to policy, we’re living through the best national economy in decades. If we get the legislative majority vote that’s committed to repealing the tax cuts, that are committed to more regulations, keeping Obamacare, you’re going to look at an economic sputter. Midterms matter for the economy, the division of the country, and they matter for our future.

Why do you think only a small amount of college students vote?

They don’t see relevance to their lives. I think that people our age have a lot of stuff going on, and it finds itself way down the list. Especially since we don’t have kids, we don’t have the forward-looking: “What’s America going to be in 15-30 years? What’s the country going to be like when I die and what am I leaving behind?” That’s why my parents vote. They’ve got me and my brothers, and one of these days they’ll have grandkids. That’s what gets them to the polls. The future of the country matters to them in an intimate, real way. We just don’t have that. Part of it’s a function of being 20 years old, but raising the stakes is good. Getting more people to vote is good.

Are you hopeful for high voter turnout for your party?

I think we’re going to vote, and it’s going to meet most people’s expectations of turn-out. There’s still going to be a lot of articles like, “Woe is me, turnout was only 40%,” or something like that, which is actually relatively good for a midterm election. I think we’re going to see turnout up from 2014, but that’s apples to apples to compare 2018 to 2014. I think turn-out is definitely going to be higher, which we saw it the primaries. Turn-out beat expectations substantially. On November 8th, you’re going to see news articles that say turnout was low, but this lacks historical perspective. I think turn-out is going to be higher than midterms typically are.

How do you think that female voters will influence this election?

Female voters are usually, roughly, 53% of the electorate. They are the majority. Vote your conscious. Female voters influence the election the same way that other voters influence the election-- by voting. Get involved, if you want to make a real, real difference, then show up.