Historic firsts in midterm elections
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There were a lot of historic firsts in this year’s midterm elections, including the first openly gay governor (Polis/Colorado), and the first two Native American woman elected to congress (Davids/Kansas, Haaland/New Mexico). The first two Muslim congresswomen were elected this year (Tlaib/Michigan, Omar/Minnesota), as well as the youngest woman ever elected (Ocasio-Cortez/New York), who joined the largest number of women ever set to take seats in Congress (over 100 projected). With Florida reinstating the voting rights of former felons, the country has seen an increase in representation across the board. Senior Mika Harwood commented on these events, “I think that women and minorities in America are beginning to realize their strong desires to see change, which may have only increased for many since the presidential election.” She added how interesting it was seeing the diversity in this year’s races, and how she is looking forward to” “seeing how these shifts affect this country politically, socially, and economically, with the hope that America’s many diverse communities and voters feel more represented by their government.”
Republicans held their majority in the Senate, while Democrats gained 30 seats to take control of the House of Representatives. A conservative majority Senate will allow President Trump to continue nominating conservatives to the federal judiciary, but a liberal majority in the House means that Democrats will have the power to veto a lot of Trump’s legislative initiatives.
In California, Democrat Gavin Newsom won the Governor’s race over Republican John Cox with 59% of the vote. Newsom is a very public critic of President Trump, and will look to rally California as a liberal stronghold against Trump. Governor-elect Newsom is already stepping into his role by leading the response to the recent fires in the state.
Locally, the race for a seat in the House of Representatives in District 24 (Santa Barbara’s district) ended with incumbent Democrat Salud Carbajal beating out Republican Justin Fareed. The Central coast continues to be a left-leaning District, as Democrats have held that seat since 2013. Every county that touches the Pacific Ocean, with the exception of one in Washington state, is held by a Democrat.
Elsewhere around the nation, a very publicized race for Texas’ Senate position ended with Republican Ted Cruz defeating Democrat Beto O’Rourke. In a historically very conservative state, O’Rourkes campaign stirred up a lot of liberal support and presented a real threat to Cruz.
The election saw a wave of voter turnout across the nation. Many people had forecasted a “blue wave” of voters, and although there was a lot of turnout amongst Democrats, it was not as substantial as people had predicted and Republicans had a larger than normal turnout as well. According to NPR, voter turnout this past Tuesday was the highest since 1966, with 49 percent of the population showing up to vote. This is a stark contrast form the 2014 midterm elections where voter turnout was the lowest since 1942. Overall, 113 million people participated in the midterm elections making it the first midterm in history to exceed over 100 million voters.