Student Spotlight: Midterm Elections

By Wendy Buendia '20

November 14, 2018 


Elections are a very important part of the foundation of America. There are some that accumulate more attention than others, like the presidential election. But in these recent years, people have begun to take more part in politics. Today, Tuesday, November 6 marks the midterm election that will decide all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate.


Light has been shed on the midterms and its capabilities in how people can affect change on their own terms. Voters who felt strongly about the recent nomination and installment of Chief Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, for instance, might have extra incentive to vote for their Congresspeople who had a say in that decision. With movements that encourage people to register to vote, like March For Our Lives, and others, issues are at stake that affect every American’s life. PBS Newshour has reported that the voter turnout, 36.4%, was in 2014 midterm elections was the lowest in past 70 years since World War II. This year with more people taking notice of the importance in voting, the voter turnout totals to an estimated 113 million people, or 49% participating in the election, as reported by CBS News.


As the A.P Government teacher, Mr. Garikes has helped in explaining the significance of the midterm elections to students voting for the first time and its specifics. The interview took place on November 1st.


Why and how are the midterm elections important to students who can vote?

They are important to students who can vote because everyone has an opportunity to vote for a congressman or congresswoman, and all Americans except for the people who live in D.C. are represented by their congressman or congresswoman, and you have a direct vote to that election, and that’s important. In some states there’s a Senate election and everybody in Virginia can vote for one of the Senate seats, which is important. And in some states there’s governor’s races, not [in] Virginia. Maryland has [a] governor’s race. All those things are important because all those different jobs have influence on different policy matters, whether its healthcare, school safety, immigration; all those people elected are going to have a part to play in those important issues. So if you vote, you’re having an impact on who those people are going to be that decide those policy issues.


What are the primary issues that are addressed in the midterms?

Each election is a little bit different. Somebody once said “All politics are local” so the issues that are important in Arizona are different than the issues that might be important in Virginia. But right now nationally, I think overlying issues are immigration, really a lot of the midterm election is going to be a vote on whether people approve of the type of job President Trump is doing. Historically, in every midterm election, a president’s party loses seats in the midterms. It only happened twice when the president’s party actually gained some seats in the midterms. So, there’s a good chance that the Republicans will lose seats in the midterms. And President Trump is a big part of whether or not that’s going to happen. Healthcare, immigration, that’s where President Trump’s performance where I think big national issues that are out there. Only twice it didn’t happen [when the president’s party didn’t lose seats.] One time, two years in the George W. Bush [term], after the Gulf War started, the Republicans didn’t lose seats. And once, when you go back to Franklin Roosevelt. But President Obama lost 63 seats were lost in the Democratic House. President Clinton lost 60 seats in the House. Republicans took over the House of Representatives for the first time in 4 years. So, usually whichever party the President is, his party loses in the midterms. Americans tend to move the balance back the other way. So if history plays out, the Republicans will lose seats in the House and possibly in the Senate. How many, we don’t know.


This midterm elections has become momentous for a number of reasons. The most watched key races are Florida’s gubernatorial race, in which the Democratic candidate, Andrew Gillum, is running a progressive campaign. This state had been run by Republicans for almost twenty years as said in The New Yorker. The election results concluded that Republican candidate Ron DeSantis had won, demonstrating that Republicans will maintain control. In Texas, the El Paso Congressman has made a name for himself in the Democratic Party challenging the Senator Ted Cruz. The results demonstrated that Senator Ted Cruz will maintain his seat. In Georgia, one of the closest gubernatorial races is taking place between Democrat Stacy Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. The intensity of the race was clearly shown in their stances on various issues.  The Washington Post reports that “the outcome remains in dispute.” It’s shown in the 2018 Midterms: Live Elections Results provided by the New Yorker that the Republican candidate Brian Kemp is leading in votes.


James Hurley, President of the Democrats Club, was interviewed on November 6:


Why are the midterm elections important to your party?

The midterm elections are critical for the Democrats because not only will they determine how much Trump will be able to accomplish until 2020, but they could also have impeachment implications.


What will the results in November tell us about 2020?

In my opinion it’s too early to make predictions in 2020 based on the results of the midterms. A lot of it will depend on what happens after the elections. Chiefly what the Democrats can accomplish with a house majority, and more importantly, how well Trump performs in the second half of his term.


How closely should people watch the gubernatorial(governor) races?

The gubernatorial races are important, but not as important as the house and senate elections. The Georgia gubernatorial election is important because of its implication for minorities in America; specially the idea that an African American democratic woman can seriously compete with a Republican white man. This could provide us with an early microcosm of the 2020 election, specially if Kamala Harris decides to run. Furthermore, it will most likely bring forth a discussion of voter suppression, specially against African Americans.


What is the most plausible/reasonable path for Democrats to win the Senate- and how likely is it?

If the Democrats want to win the senate, they will need to pull major upsets in traditionally red states. It’s possible given the historic voter turnout reported for early voting, but it’s going to be extremely difficult event with those historic numbers. The states I’m thinking of specifically are Arizona, Texas, and Missouri. All of these races are extremely close and if Democrats can pull those races out there is a chance they could take a senate majority. But don’t let me get your hopes up, it’s extremely unlikely that the Democrats will take a lead in the senate, and there’s a strong chance that Republicans could even expand their lead in the senate.


Will Democrats sweep Republicans from power in the House or are Democrats overconfident?

The Democrats will take the majority in the house. Voter turnout, polling over the past several months, and most importantly, history, are all on the Democrats’ side. It would take an act of Russia for the Democrats to fail to win the House.


Lucas Senich, President of the Republicans Club, was interviewed on November 8:


Why are the midterm elections important to your party?

Midterms are important because it will result in either the Republicans maintaining complete control of all three branches or the Democrats flipping the house and gaining power over financial bills and legislature.


What will the results in November tell us about 2020?

The results for these midterms don't really tell us anything for 2020, it is what happens within the next two years that will determine what occurs in the 2020 elections. If people are content with who they just elected, then it will stay the same. But, if these new elects disappoint the people, they might be on their way out during the next cycle. It's just too early to tell at this point.


How closely should people watch the gubernatorial(governor) races?

Close, but not nearly as intense as the ones for the House and Senate.


Will Democrats sweep Republicans from power in the House or are Democrats overconfident?

The Democrats will take the house no doubt, but I'm fairly confident that this "blue wave" of theirs will turn out to be nothing more than a little splash and that the Republicans will maintain control over the Senate.