Barbecue, Drinks and Politics: Discussing the Midterms 

The Political Science Department organized a 2018 Post-Election Happy Hour at Donovan’s Pub on Wednesday, November 7 for students and faculty to informally discuss the midterm elections.

The event allowed for students and faculty of both political parties to debrief on the implications of the 2018 midterms, which marked record-breaking vote turnout for a non-presidential election.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Juan Fernando Ibarra Del Cuento said he was cautiously optimistic for the future of American politics and was completely taken aback by the amount of students in attendance at the Post-Election Happy Hour. Ibarra views the high turnout as reflecting the importance democracy in the lives of young people.

The results of the midterms were that the Senate maintained its Republican majority, while the House of Representatives flipped to a Democratic majority.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Matt Luttig explained that the deeper repercussions of the election lie in the percentages. The Democratic Party lost the Senate, but won the popular vote by 7 percent, recording the largest popular vote victory and exceeding the 6.8 percent margin recorded in 2010 by Republicans. Luttig said that the distribution of voters across congressional districts benefit the Republicans; Democrats are concentrated in urban areas, whereas Republicans are spread out over wider ranges. This allows Democrats to dominate popular elections, but lose in terms of representation.

In 2008, Obama won the popular vote by a large margin and carried with him a lot of House Democrats. In 2016, Trump did not win the popular vote, which in turn did not bring in House Republicans. Luttig explained that the Democratic party made gains in each demographic of voters, even white males. The deepening political divide between urban and rural areas offers a glimpse of an upcoming gridlock in American politics.

As a specialist in the field of comparative politics, Ibarra provided an outside perspective on the current situation of the United States. Ibarra stated that Amendment 4 was passed in Florida, ending voter suppression in a crucial state. Ibarra said that this demonstrates what is rendered possible in this political climate, however stagnant and partisan it may seem.

Ibarra also pointed out that gerrymandering, a deepening trend in the Senate, disproportionally benefits the Republican Party. He said that the Democrats winning the House provides an important check on the president, but can lead to a constitutional crisis. The importance of oversight power and President Trump’s reaction to this constitutional congressional authority could result in other clashes between the executive and the legislative branches of government.

Contact Victoria Pino at [email protected]