After months of registering voters, block walking for candidates and driving friends to the polls, Trinity students gathered to watch the final, nerve wracking moments of the midterm elections.
This year’s midterm elections ended with a Republican majority Senate, a Democratic majority House of Representatives, Ted Cruz as senator and Greg Abbott as Texas governor. On the local level, Will Hurd won in Texas House District 23 and Chip Roy won in Texas House District 21. Additionally, San Antonio Proposition A failed, while Propositions B and C passed.
This year’s midterm elections have seen unusually large voter turnout across Texas counties, reaching percentages expected for presidential elections. Junior Simone Washington, vice president of Trinity Progressives (T-Prog), is excited about this increase and sees it as a reaction to the current political structure.
“A lot of people talk about the blue wave as being something that’s so pervasive that it brings millennials into voting booths across the country. I think in response to Trump’s election, this is a time for first-time voters to express their disdain, I suppose, with how elections or how our government is shaped right now. I think that’s why we probably saw a huge uptake in millennial voters this year,” said Simone Washington.
T-Prog and the Trinity University Forensics Society held a watch party in Richardson Communication and catered Canes for attendees. For two hours, members watched excitedly as the results came in.
Martina Ashby, first-year and T-Prog member, echoed Washington sentiment, seeing the election as a chance to change the Republican control of Congress.
“I think this election is important to the psyche of America because this was our first major election since Donald Trump was elected, and I think that was very alarming for a lot of people because most people thought that Hilary would win. The election of Donald Trump really shook everyone. I just think this is the closest we can get to opposing that with this election with [O’Rourke] and Cruz,” Ashby said.
Ultimately, Cruz was projected as the winner of the Senate race. Sophomore Carson Bolding, public relations officer of T-Prog, shared her reaction on O’Rourke loss to Cruz.
“I’m disappointed, but I kind of had expected it. Texas is definitely more of a non-voting state than a red state, but there’s still a lot of voter suppression happening in Texas. There’s a lot of down-ballot races that are super important, too, like Colin Allred just won in district 32 which is exciting. I think that how close it was is a good projection for what things are going to look like in the future as well,” Bolding said.
On the other side of the political spectrum, members of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT), formerly known as Tigers for Liberty, attended Chip Roy’s campaign watch party in New Braunfels. About 20 members drove down with other campaign volunteers to watch the results come in and meet Roy. Isaiah Mitchell, president of YCT attended and was proud of the work members had done for Roy.
“We looked up the margin of victory for Chip Roy, the number of votes it was, and we had knocked on way more doors than even that margin of victory and so there are people in that campaign who credited our chapter here with Chip Roy’s victory,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell was encouraged by Cruz’s victory and was not surprised to see Democrats gain control of the House.
“I’m taking it mainly as a victory because having Texas turn blue would have had, in my opinion, terrible ramifications over the course of the next few political generations. There were, of course, rumblings that that was imminent and so I was happy to see that stopped. As for the House, I’m fine with political clash at the national level. I think that’s expected and that’s kind of how our system was designed to be, so it’s not really a surprise, and you might even argue it’s beneficial,” Mitchell said.
Diane Fournier, first-year YCT member, was satisfied with the results of the election.
“I was very pleased with the election results, especially because my main issues are actually pro-life issues, so having candidates in there to advance pro-life legislation was what was most important to me. I think [O’Rourke] voted against a 20-week ban on abortion and that was something I could not accept,” Fournier said.
Fournier prioritized her pro-life position when voting.
“It was a very conflicted election for me because many candidates support some of my issues and are against many of my issues. I’m anti-death penalty, and Cruz is not but again I had to prioritize. So while it was a tough election, and I had to make some hard choices, I’m really glad with the results,” Fournier said.
David Crockett, chair of the Department of Political Science, believes the split party control of the House and Senate could make it difficult for President Donald Trump to pass legislature.
“Any agenda the president wants to prosecute through the lawmaking process will run through the buzz saw. The Democrats control the House. They’re not going to pass anything. They have every interest in making Trump look ineffective between now and 2020. What he won’t get are budgets that he wants, he’s not going to get the House to fund ‘The Wall’ unless he decides to cut deals in some way,” Crockett said.
Crockett believes that compromise between the president and the Democratic Party is unlikely.
“The ground has been so poisoned between the president and the opposition party that I’m not sure I see a whole lot of opportunity for deal making. I think what this does is tee up the presidential election for 2020,” Crockett said.
Though Crockett does not believe the elections brought a blue wave to Texas, he does think that close win between Cruz and O’Rourke is concerning for Republicans.
“When you see that Ted Cruz won by 16 percentage points six years ago and he won by I think less than three points last night, that’s a pretty significant difference, and so going forward, Republicans need to take that into account when they look at candidate choice for statewide races. Nothing stays the same forever in politics,” Crockett said.