Midterm Elections: Historic Turnout Leads to Divided Congress

Molly Katz ‘19

The 2018 midterm elections received a historic turnout, both from voters excited to further Trump’s agenda as well as from people determined to create a check on the administration. Just under 50% of the United States’ eligible voting population voted, a significant increase from the previous midterms in 2014 in which only 36.7% of eligible voters came to the polls.

In general, Democrats stuck to consistent messaging about one issue: health care. Rather than focusing on divisive issues like immigration, the party hoped to pull voters from the middle using moderate causes, like protections of people with pre-existing conditions.

This strategy seemed to be effective, as the Democratic party won the House majority this election. Tens of Republican districts across the country flipped to Democratic representation, including some that had identified as Republican for decades. For example, Dana Rohrabacher in Orange County, California lost his seat to Democrat Harley Rouda after serving 15 terms in the House.

Many Democrats hope to maintain this same moderate platform that helped them win elections over the next House term. However, it is possible that the House of Representatives will become an investigation chamber rather than attempting bipartisan work to pass new legislation.

In contrast, the Republican party gained seats in the Senate, increasing their majority and ability to accomplish specific goals. With the check of the new House of Representatives in place, they do not expect to pass much legislation. However, they now have more power to execute a long-held dream: confirming a new group of Conservative judges to turn the previously liberal-leaning judicial system in their favor.

Though these races typically do not get much attention, seven State Legislature chambers across the country flipped from Republican to Democratic. One of the more significant changes was in New York, where Democrats will now control the state legislature for the first time in decades. In addition, Democrats have gained seven gubernatorial seats thus far. The Florida and Georgia elections are being questioned through a recount in Florida and a lawsuit in Georgia.

The midterm elections as a whole were widely viewed as a referendum on Trump. The President himself bought into this idea, telling constituents at rallies that he was on the ballot. The population spoke clearly: enough people were dissatisfied with the current government to shift the house majority, gain seven gubernatorial seats, and flip seven State Legislature chambers.


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