The 2018 midterm election resulted in Democrats winning the House, Republicans maintaining their majority in the Senate and the highest voter turnout in decades.
The Democratic Party took the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, flipping over 28 seats from 2016, according to Politico. Republicans kept their majority in the Senate.
According to political science professor Brian Krueger, the party that opposes the president typically claims a congressional chamber during the midterms. He also said that this year’s Senate map was favored towards Republicans, as most states with races were states that President Trump won in 2016. Krueger said that both parties demonstrated a lot of enthusiasm this election.
“The Democrats did pretty well, but I wouldn’t call it a blue wave,” Krueger said. “[Republicans] basically met the Democrats’ energy, and likely suggests that we’re going to be in for a close race in 2020 as well.”
This midterm election had some of the highest voter turnout in years on a state level, as well as nationally. This election had the second largest midterm voter turnout in the state’s history, according to WPRI, with around 373,000 ballots cast.
Krueger said that the turnout demonstrates renewed interest in the political process. “It has been decades since we’ve had a midterm election with this much turnout,” Krueger said. “We had 80 million [voters] in 2014, the last midterm, and now we have around 115 million people voting. This suggests that there is a lot of energy in this country.”
Women also made historic gains this election. Krueger said that women made up the highest portion of the electorate ever. Out of all the people who voted, 52 percent of them were women. In addition, more women ran for office than ever before. Women are projected to have at least 96 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives next year.
“I think women have been energized for a while,” Krueger said. “I think the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were just a more recent factor on that. I think it’s interesting that we were expecting women to do this for a long time, and it did come to pass, specifically with suburban women who tend to vote Republican.”
There were also several gubernatorial races across the country. Krueger said that several states that voted for Trump in 2016, such as Wisconsin and Kansas, opted for Democratic governors. This continues to follow the historical trend of voters choosing the opposing party of the president. However, Republicans also won gubernatorial races in key states such as Florida.
In Rhode Island, all three of the proposed bond referendums were approved by the electorate. The $250 million Rhode Island School Buildings bond will fund the construction and refurbishment of Rhode Island’s public K-12 schools. The $70 million Higher Education and Facilities bond will be divided between the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. Twenty-five million dollars from the bond will go to renovations of RIC’s Horace Mann Hall, which houses the college’s Feinstein School of Education and Human Development. Forty-five million dollars would go to construction projects at URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus. The $47.3 million Green Economy and Clean Water bond will be split into 10 separate allocations to preserve farmland, keep water clean, and other environmental and recreational projects.
Rhode Island’s incumbent Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo defeated Republican Allan Fung and independent Joe Trillo, winning 52.6 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press. Democrats Dan McKee, Nellie Gorbea and Seth Magaziner maintained their seats as Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and General Treasure respectively. Democrat Peter Nerohna was elected as Rhode Island’s new attorney general, succeeding the term-limited Democrat Peter Gilmartin.
Rhode Island’s incumbent Democratic representatives David Cicilline and James Langevin were both reelected, with both winning over 60 percent of the vote in their districts. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, also a Democrat, was re-elected for his third term with 61.4 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Robert Flanders. Democrats also maintained their majority in the Rhode Island’s General Assembly.
Krueger said that none of the results in Rhode Island’s elections were unexpected. Some students commented on how they were not surprised by the national elections.
“I’m not really surprised that the chambers are split considering that there has been a lot of tension in Trump’s administration,” Noah Cyr, a student at URI, said. “At least when I was watching, I was surprised by how contested states like Texas were, especially considering that is mainly a Republican state.”
URI’s College Democrats were happy with the results. “Young Rhode Islanders turned out to vote for Gina Raimondo because we want to continue the progress the state has made by expanding tuition-free college to URI, codifying reproductive rights into state law and making Rhode Island a vibrant and affordable place to live,” Andy Boardman, president of the College Democrats, said.
The student organization was also pleased to see their party take control of the House. “Democratic victories in the House of Representatives, including the re-elections of Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, show that the country is ready for bold leadership on the most pressing issues of our times,” Boardman said. “With control of the House, Democrats will continue to fight for affordable health care, a fair economy, compassionate and sensible immigration and accountable government.”
The URI College Republicans were happy to see so much enthusiasm during the midterm. “While the results in Rhode Island did not end in favor of many Republican candidates, I am so proud of everyone who put their hard work and time into fighting for free-market principles during this election season,” the organization’s president, Ed Tarnowski, said. “We look forward to keeping up the good fight in 2020. In the meantime, I’d like to congratulate our Democratic opponents on their wins and wish them the best.”