In the wake of the midterm elections, the Political Science and History Departments co-sponsored their traditional post-election event to discuss the outcome. Students and professors gathered on Thursday, November 8 in LC 28, where a panel answered questions from the audience about everything from the supposed “blue wave” to historical trends of both the parties.
COURTESY OF WTOL
The panel, made up of Political Science Professors Pat McGuinn and Phil Mundo, as well as History Professors James Carter and Angie Kirby-Calder, generally covered the blue wave –or lack of – and its effects on different parts of the country. While opinions differed, a general sentiment among most of the panelists was that the supposed nationwide blue wave of enthusiastic Democrats never emerged on election night. But this may be due to conflicting expectations of the results of a blue wave. Professor Carter said “I'm not sold on the notion that there either was or wasn't a blue wave and we should be either euphoric or disappointed…people are saying there was no significant shift, what would constitute a significant shift? What would constitute a blue wave?”
Most analysts predicted a gain of 25 to 35 House seats for the Democrats and a loss of several Senate seats, both roughly in line with current results. Yet many Democrats remained optimistic about their chances in the Senate, pinning hopes on red-state moderates Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) winning alongside former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. All except Sinema lost–the Arizona Senate race is still too close to call.
Prof. Kirby-Calder agreed with Prof. Carter on the uncertainty of the blue wave, with Prof. McGuinn adding on that “in the red wave of 2010, Republicans flipped twice as many seats in the House and twice as many seats in the Senate as Democrats did this time around," but going on to note that the electoral map was significantly stacked against Democrats this cycle. Prof Mundo added that the 2020 map may be more friendly thanks to Democrats successfully building benches down-ballot in several states by winning several competitive governor races and flipping multiple state legislatures.
While the panel had different takes on the direction Democrats should move towards in 2020, (with Carter and Kirby-Calder more strongly favoring Democrats moving in a more progressive direction than McGuinn and Mundo) each agreed that the midterms were significant due to the high voter turnout, in many places surpassing turnout for the 2016 presidential race. Prof. Kirby-Calder noted that President Donald Trump’s divisiveness has sparked an increased interest in politics among Americans and that the 2020 presidential race will likely spark even greater engagement from Americans on both sides.