KEMBURU: Tuesday’s elections warning for Trump
Column: An Optimist's Opinion
The elections that happened this past Tuesday have signaled to President Donald J. Trump and the rest of his administration that the 2020 election will be no easy win, and that if they want to win, they need to start working toward that outcome now.
The purpose of these general assembly elections was ultimately to decide who gains control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives within the state legislature, as well as the governorship. Typically, we see voter turnout highest — but not even the highest it could be — during presidential elections, and we see that number lower a bit during midterm elections, and that number is exponentially decreased when it comes down to general assembly elections.
But do not just take my word for it.
In the 2016 presidential election, approximately 60.1% of the eligible voter population voted, and in the 2018 midterm elections, approximately 49.6% of the eligible voter population voted. To provide some context, in the previous midterm election, that number was strikingly low, at 36.7%.
While the precise numbers for voter turnout from this past election are not clear, there is proof that a significant amount of people came out to vote: enough to flip certain state legislatures and governor positions.
There are several factors that could have played a part in pushing individuals to vote, but the one that I propose had the most significant impact on voter turnout was the election of Trump. I believe that people are only empowered and willing to take action when their rights and values are being threatened, and it was made clear yesterday that many Americans today feel that way.
The consequences of this certain group of individuals being mobilized have been felt profusely by the Republican Party today, especially in Kentucky and Virginia. In Kentucky, a deep red state, Gov. Matt Bevin (R-Ky.) was seeking to run again. While one would have thought that there was no chance that the position would go to a Democrat, that assumption is wrong.
Over his four years in office, Bevin has become more and more unpopular, largely due to his arguments with those in his own party. “He’s fought with the Republican-controlled legislature over public education spending and with public sector employees over pensions.”
In recent polls, he has been named the most unpopular governor in the country. Even a last-minute visit to Kentucky by Trump himself on Monday was not enough to secure Bevin’s position, and much to the Republicans’ chagrin, Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear won.
In Virginia, both the Senate and the House had been divided almost equally, but with the Grand Old Party (GOP) having a slight edge. Whichever party won this election not only would win the state legislature, but also would have the ability to redistrict after the 2020 census.
The Democratic Party ultimately won in this general assembly election as well. This is the first time this has happened in nearly a quarter-century.
This is not to say that that the GOP had no wins for the night. One of the other closely contested races was in Mississippi, between Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R-Miss.) and Democrat Attorney General Jim Hood. While Reeves came out as the victor, it was an incredibly close race, with 52.1% of the vote going to the former and 46.6% of the vote going to the latter.
Regardless, these elections are incredibly important to look at for several different reasons. First, they have only increased Democratic party enthusiasm for the 2020 elections. The Democrats now know that they are turning out more of their party than the Republican party, and that is a good sign for future elections.
Second, Republican losses in deep-red states show a “dangerous trend” that we have seen happen more and more in recent elections: the turnout of college-educated voters that live in these areas.
And last but not least, there was a belief before this election that the Democratic Party pursuing impeachment could hurt their chances of reelection in the future. But, this has been proven to false, as the American people have shown that they are willing to vote for who and what they think is right, choosing their morals and values before anything else.
Anusha Kemburu is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year majoring in political science. Her column, “An Optimist’s Opinion,” runs on alternate Thursdays.
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