Historic midterm elections display tight races

As the Trump administration reaches the end of its second year, more voters than ever are going to the poles to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. Following events like trade wars with China and the controversial confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice, both Democrats and Republicans plan on endorsing their chosen candidates wholeheartedly. According to an article produced by NPR, 2018 could have the highest voter turnout, for both political parties, since the 1960s. Alongside millions of others, Westminster students and faculty are especially anxious and excited to bring their opinions and ideals to the polls on November 6th.

In Georgia, many elections are especially close, which demonstrates how voters are especially concerned about the solutions presented by this year’s candidates. One of these tight races is that between Brian Kemp and Stacy Abrams, where Kemp currently holds 48% of the vote while Abrams holds 46.4%.

“I think that there is a shift between who is voting for who this year,” said Stacy Abrams intern Payton Selby. “I think that a lot of Republicans are becoming a little uncomfortable with their own party right now, which could contribute to the tight numbers.”

Another factor that contributes to the tightness of this year’s midterms are the events that led up to them; in particular those that were marked by controversy.

“Politics has become more polarizing than ever,” said Will Wallace, a leader of Westminster’s Young Conservative Club. “On the conservative side, gun rights have become a big deal, especially when politicians talk about Common Sense Gun Reform, which Republican nominees have brought to the forefront of their campaigns following the Parkland shooting. A lot of people view the party as more united than ever.”

Because of the unity of the political parties, people are starting to side with the political party that most aligns with their personal views.

“The two sides are struggling to fight each other, and they each believe that their side is the right one,” said Manuela Kelly, the faculty advisor for Wallace’s club. “It’s a fight for different types of values and belief systems.”

Equally important to their ideologies on national issues, candidates also offer solutions to local problems.

“A lot of Abram’s policies, such as those that focus on housing and funding for public schools, could greatly affect our communities,” said Selby. “For example, a lot of policies that are already in place have not been helpful for public schools and poverty levels in Georgia, and Abrams hopes to fix this issues with a new perspective.”

Candidates for these local elections attempt to make their case to the largest audience possible, often through media like television or social media.

“I see the ads that each candidate puts out, and they always list the negative actions their opponent has committed,” said Kelly. “The bottom line is that each one of us has to be an informed voter. Easy to say, not so easy to be.  Ultimately, I would prefer that everyone make respectful and sound decisions based on facts, not simply feelings and emotions which are fleeting.”

Even though many voters from both sides of the aisle fear the possible outcomes of these elections, the results could mimic those of the past.

“Any midterm election has had minimal if any long lasting impact on our economy,” said upper-school economics teacher Matthew Munday. “What most people talk about when these elections come around are their impact on things like stock market prices and stock market volatility, which would eventually correct itself.”

Part of what gives way to fears surrounding the results of the midterms is the idea that the government could become less predictable, which could contribute to economic losses.

“Whenever we approach an election, whether that be a presidential or any kind, there is a lot of uncertainty in the markets, which results in turbulence,” said Munday. “After the elections, there  could be a round of spending costs that would reduce government spending, but otherwise the midterms would not cause the market to crash.”

In addition to a lack of economic impact, these elections could allow for there to be greater standstills when legislation attempts to make its way to the president.

“Based on the poling that is available, I would expect Democrats to have control of the House while Republicans would have control of the Senate,” said Munday. “That would cause for us to have a divided government where it is unlikely that there could be any serious controversial items that would make it through both chambers.”

However, it is more vital than ever for voters to make their way to poling locations in order to make their voices heard so that local legislation falls in line with their beliefs.

“People often think that is more important to vote in the presidential elections, even though the midterms matter more,” said Selby. “The midterms determine how much power the president can have, and what local changes could occur in your community.”

For many, voting in the midterms is more than a right, but also a responsibility.

“Many men and women have died so that we can have the right to vote in these elections,” said Kelly. “For me, I honor those people who have died so that my vote can count. I was born in Africa and I’ve lived in five different countries for a varied period of time. There’s no country better than the United States of America, even with all its faults and shortcomings. Everyone wants to come here—and we all know why.”