On Tuesday an over 130 million Americans went to the polls to cast their vote in what was not just a referendum on the Trump administration but one of the most crucial midterm elections in the last twenty-five years. Since the election of Donald Trump to the office of president of the United States, it has been argued that American society has been more polarised than ever before. This is true, however, one cannot forget that the 1860 presidential election of Abraham Lincoln helped spark the American civil war and the election of 1968 between Nixon and vice president Hubert Humphrey had Americans divide over the war in Vietnam and poverty. I am not a Trump supporter, however, when we look at the trump presidency, and the midterms were observing American division from a modern and contemporary viewpoint. However, it would be naive to say the 2018 midterms were not subject to extreme division among republican and democrat lines. So how did this division have an outcome on the midterm elections?
It would be fair to say that political pundits and the American people woke up not surprised by the result of the US midterm elections. The Democrats won the back the house ( Congress ) securing an overall majority of 223 seats which was an impressive but not surprising gain of 28 seats compared to the Republicans who lost a sizeable 28 seats bringing there tally down to 197 seats in the house. As stated, this is not surprising, the Democrats were expected to win back control of Congress, however, what is interesting is how the Democrats will use their new found power. The Democrats now have control of budgets, money bills and can be articles of impeachment. However, the one main advantage that the Democrats hold is now they can place checks and balances on the trump administration which will make the Trumps republican agenda such as the wall, healthcare and tax cuts for the wealthily impossibly to pass with cooperation and of course votes from the Democrats. However, Republicans lacked onto the incumbent majority in the Senate, winning just the required amount for a majority of 51 seats. The Senate was the critical battleground for Trump as a Republican legislature can move through future appoints to the trump administration and can slow down democratic bills passed in the house. Many have asked the question as to whether articles of impeachment will be pursued. However, the Democrats are fighting for 2020 and need to level their new found power if they hope to challenge a Trump-Pence 2020 campaign. Therefore, despite containing the Trump administration, they have to manage expectations and provide stability.
The results of the midterms weren’t surprising; the Republicans knew they were fighting to hold onto Congress and the Democrats knew they couldn’t shift the status quo to their favour in the Senate. However, what did catch pundits by surprise was voter turnout. In the 2014 midterms, voter turnout reached 83 million people who are average for midterm elections. However, this year’s midterms reach an incredible 133 million people. Youth turnout reached a record high of 31% ( that amount for persons aged between 18-29) which is a generous increased from youth turn out in 2014. Many may think that this surge in voter turnout accounted for the huge wins for the Democrats both in Congress and governor elections where the Democrats added seven new governors to their army. However, youth turnout only accounted for 13% of the vote. Within police science, voting behaviour is a topic of great interest, and there is a common misconception that the younger you are, the more liberal you tend to be and the older you are, the more conservative you are. Age is an essential factor. However, this is not the case, voting behaviour a complex issue than attributing a vote based on one’s age. One major factor is the image the candidates and parties put out. Republicans took to fear and focused on more salient and no traditional issues such as terrorism, security and border controls as it instilled fear into voters while the Democrats focused on more passive issues that Americans are met face to face every day such as tax and healthcare which Democrats have been fighting hard to protect and have done so successfully during the trump administration. Protest voting was also a big part of such a high turnout, where voters voted for Democrats therefore in protest to trump and the Republican party. Therefore the play on voters emotions was a vital and effective method of campaigning for both parties.
Trump described the 2018 midterm results as a huge victory for the Republican party, and many have said that he’s wrong, he is in some sense. However, the replicas still managed to hold their position in the house. This is all trump needs for 2020 campaign push. He can blame the Democrats for not cooperating as they have a majority in Congress. Therefore he can avoid a good percentage of the blame, while still being able to avoid impeachment and pass through vital members of the cabinet and members of the supreme court if necessary. Therefore, the 2018 midterms have set the ground for a Trump-Pence 2020 showdown.