US Midterm Election Results
Kaitlynd Hiller (1L)
The midterms are over, (most of) the results are in, and next month the 116th Congress of the United States will go to work for the people of the Republic. After a bitterly fought battle marked by racist campaign robocalls, accusations of voter suppression and yet another Florida debacle, both sides are claiming victory. So…what happened? Here’s a quick guide to some of the big wins, losses, and what to watch for next.
Republicans picked up two seats in the Senate. They flipped Florida, Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri. Democrats flipped Arizona and Nevada. Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith won her runoff election on November 27th, which had turned into an interesting race in its own right: the Republican incumbent has been put in hot water after telling a supporter she would join her in the front row if there was a “public hanging” (her Democratic challenger is black). The Governor defended her, and the President went to Mississippi to stump for her all week, supporting her over the finish line.
A win for the history books went to former House member Kyrsten Sinema, who picked up Jeff Flake’s seat to become the first female senator from Arizona and the first bisexual senator. She is also the first Democrat elected Arizona senator since 1988. Perhaps the net gain in the Senate is what Trump has referred to as “historic” in this election – since WWII, the President’s party generally loses an average of 4 seats. However, the wins have not been without criticism. Reports of voter suppression in certain states all the way up until election day. Republican officials in North Dakota introduced a measure requiring physical address identification in order to cast ballots in a state where around 5,000 Native Americans live on reserves without addresses – only PO boxes. This move was to the disadvantage of democrat Heidi Heitkamp, who was strongly supported by Native Americans in 2012 when she won her seat with less than a few thousand votes. Despite filing for an injunction, the Supreme Court upheld the measure and left advocacy groups scrambling to get voters registered. She lost. More court challenges arose in Florida, where former governor of Florida Rick Scott ultimately managed to flip that seat after a machine recount and some fighting words. Florida also voted for a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to 1.5 million felons in the state. Because the Republicans retain a majority, Democrats will be unable to block further Trump nominees to courts and cabinet positions.
The Democrats made big gains in the house: 38 seats for a total of 232 (218 needed for a majority). This is more in line with the usual course of politics, where the President’s party usually loses an average of 26 seats. It isn’t enough to amount to the whooping that Obama received when the Democrats lost 63 House seats in 2010, but it’s still the 7th worst loss since WWII. However, they are breaking records in different ways. The incoming House constitutes the youngest, most female, most diverse group to have ever been voted in. Notable achievements include Michigan and Minnesota electing the first Muslim women to Congress, New Mexico and Kansas electing the first Native American women to Congress, and Democratic-Socialist-to-watch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becoming the youngest women ever elected to Congress at 29 years old. Now the Democrats have control of the House, they have subpoena power and will have more voting power on new bills and House committees.
The drama now revolves around whether Nancy Pelosi will be able to secure the position of House Speaker come January with so much new blood coming in.
Scott Walker lost his long-held Governor seat in Wisconsin to Democrat Tony Evers. Controversial (see again: voter suppression) Republican Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kobach lost his bid for Governor as well. Jared Polis became the first openly gay governor of Colorado (Masterpiece Cakeshop, anyone?). Oprah-endorsed Stacy Abrams was unable to pick up enough votes to put her race into a runoff, and although she’s acknowledged that Brian Kemp is the legal winner, she questions the legitimacy of that win. Not only did Kemp preside over his own election as Secretary of State, he oversaw prosecutions of advocates and poll workers who assisted others in casting ballots. Under him, an exact-match rule change in Georgia meant that many voters were unable to cast ballots due to miniscule differences between IDs, and a record 1.5 million people were purged from Georgia’s voter rolls in order to ensure against the non-existent threat of voter fraud. He’s now facing a legal challenge for election mismanagement from Abrams. Ron DeSantis claimed victory over Andrew Gillam after a recount in Florida, securing a Republican Governor and Senator for the state. For all the talk about Democrats being experts at “stealing” elections, they sure are bad at it.
Oh, and Michigan voted to legalize marijuana. Yeehaw!