This was a record-breaking midterm election year: according to CBS News, a record 49% of registered voters cast their ballots (compared to 36.4% in 2012). Additionally, Lindsey Lupo, professor of political science at PLNU, points to the record number of women elected to Congress and of course, the polarizing political divide that appears to be growing wider than ever in our country.
At the polls on Tuesday, November 6, many voting groups spoke in expected ways: according to a New York Times’ analysis, women, young people and all racial groups (except for white) continued to move and vote left, and America’s wealthiest voters continued to vote Republican.
Another important outcome of the elections was the House being taken control of by the Democrats, and the Republicans strengthening their position in the Senate. Lupo points to this as an illustration of the “increasing rural-urban divide in our country.”
Lupo also observed as a whole, moderate candidates do not fare well in today’s political climate. She says, “This is concerning for democracy as we need critical thinkers that can view an issue from multiple perspectives—this is the only way to solve the country’s most entrenched problems. There is no healthy democracy in the world that has high levels of political polarization.”
This year’s midterm election has been surrounded by an increased call to vote for all ages, but it has been especially fervent in the younger generations, as shown through survivors of the Parkland shooting running voting campaigns and celebrities like Taylor Swift calling fans to register to vote. The preliminary data from ABC suggests that there was a spike in the youth vote: up to 13% of the overall voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, compared to 11% in 2014.
Lupo says that a number of her students were first-time voters this year, and that “they feel empowered, engaged, and inspired.” PLNU sophomore and applied health sciences major, Alissa Roesch, cast her first-ever ballot this election, and also volunteered at the polls. Roesch echoes Lupo’s sentiment, saying, “I feel good about it knowing I contributed to the change in society.” She goes on to encourage those who may feel like their vote is useless, saying, “Many of the elections came down to a handful of votes so that every vote does really matter. If they have any opinions on local politics then they should vote and have their voice heard.”