Midterm Madness

Sinziana Stanciu, ‘20

November 2018

The midterm elections occur 2 years after presidential elections. Midterm elections are important in that they invoke a deeper evaluation that highlights the entire countries diversified options rather than focusing on the largest election of all. Some of the positions that are voted on during midterms are governor, congressman, senators, and various other regional positions. These positions may seem like they are less significant than the presidential election, however, these are opportunities to showcase the effects of past policy on the public’s opinion. Our system of checks and balances provides many opportunities for change, and it results in the legislative branch’s significant power.

In the months leading up to the midterm elections of 2018, there was a large push, primarily by Democrats, to register people to vote, specifically young people. Further, the democrat’s dominance in media, particularly by celebrities, led to the predictions that there was going to be a “Blue wave” that would sweep the country and change the previous politicals standing of Republican states to Democratic. The actual outcome was more along the lines of a “Blue ripple” as seven governor seats were flipped to the Democratic side (Republicans still hold the majority of governorships) and they did end up winning the house: 234 to 201 (Politico). They flipped 42 previously Republican seats to Democratic, which is a large win. The Republicans held the Senate with a 4 seat lead (Bloomberg) and flipped 2 Democratic seats. 26 Democrats were up for reelection this midterm, and 9 Republicans, their gain shows the lack of a “Blue wave” across the board, but certainly a major gain in the House,

The highly anticipated “Blue wave” kind of fell short of expectations across the board, but was certainly seen in the House. Before the election, it was expected that the encouragement to vote for Democrats from high profile celebrities such as Oprah and Taylor Swift would greatly benefit the campaign for their respective candidates, however, they were not elected. In the highly controversial Governorship of Georgia race, Stacey Abrams (D) who had Oprah campaigning for her, lost. Further, Taylor Swift broke her political silence to support Phil Bredesen (D) who ended up losing to Marsh Blackburn (R). Their efforts were not completely at a loss, because voter turnout was particularly high in comparison to recent midterm elections. At 47.5% in 2018, the last time midterm turnout was this large was in 1966 with 49% (NPR). Generally, voter turnout is quite low for midterms in comparison to presidential elections, but the voters this year decided to come to the polls.

Nevertheless, these elections were not respectful. The madness that ensued can easily be seen in Georgia’s governor race, where the inequality of the two candidates led to numerous issues and scandal in the days leading up to voting day. The Georgian governor’s race has been the highlight across the country of what elections are starting to look like and will continue to look life for a while: scandal between polar opposite candidates. The ruthlessness of politics showed in this midterm specifically, provokes the question: is the polarization in this country the root of this behavior or is it is the nature that we live in? For example is the growing difference in opinion between parties the cause of this anger or is it that the growing differences in our society, hence the nature that we live in that catalyzes the hate?  

One thing is abundantly clear when midterms come around, how the American people evaluate current policies and where they are working. President Trump (R)  used the power he has in the executive branch in partnership with the legislative branch, also Republican, to get many policies passed. People then evaluated his actions in coordination with their local politics and were able to make decisions, and midterm elections showed that America does not necessarily dislike President Trump’s policies as much as the media portrays it to be, if Americans were true as angry at Trump’s efforts the “Blue wave” would have happened, but the holistic view shows that the wave was primarily in the house. In 2010, during the midterm elections of President Obama’s first term, Republicans gained 5 seats in the Senate and 63 House seats (NYTimes). This shows the common trend of the Presidential power to lose their status in the Legislative branch, but, it also shows the fact that Americans are not as disappointed in Trump's policies, just as they weren’t in Obama’s

The midterm elections this year were crazy, with a few races that lasted longer than the than the 6th, and many predictions beforehand, one thing remains certain: Americans are more than happy to voice their political opinions than ever before, whether it be voting or running for office.