By Harry Rowe | Staff Writer
It’s been nearly two years since the election of President Donald Trump, and the country seems no less divided than prior to the election.
In fact, according to a Pew research study, 60 percent of democrats or democrat-leaning independents had views that were mostly or consistently liberal. This is up from just 49 percent in 2011. Conservatives have followed suit in the trend, and 53 percent of republican or republican-leaning independents had mostly or consistently conservative views in 2015. Midterm elections are typically a response to how the public feels about the president and his policies, and this year is no different.
“It’s an immediate response mechanism,” Dr. David Bridge, an associate professor of political science. “So it allows the people to register immediate approval or disapproval of whatever’s been happening in the last two years. It’s a way for democracy … to be carried out at short regular intervals.”
Texas has not had a Democratic senator in 25 years. The ongoing race between Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke and incumbent Republican Ted Cruz threatens that statistic.
Issues such as healthcare and gun control are some of the topics that separate these two candidates. O’Rourke, who has declared his support for universal health-care, stands in stark contrast with Ted Cruz’s view that the privatization of health-care would benefit tax payers the most.
Bridge said the victory of a Democratic senator in Texas would mark a new era.
“If Ted Cruz were to lose, it might be an indicator that Democrats have not only made substantial moves into Texas, but that they’ve provided something that either appeals or mobilizes voters that didn’t vote before or who are willing to switch,” Bridge said.
The eyes of the country are fixed on Texas to see what will happen this November. According to CNN, O’Rourke is estimated to be only four points down from Cruz in the polls. This is a close race for Cruz, who beat the Democratic nominee by an easy 16 points in the 2012 election.
Additionally, other states are giving possible indicators of what might come. An Ohio special election that took place in the historically important swing state was too close to call back in early August. It showed a tight race in a district that has routinely voted red in the past. This tight divide is what makes it so hard to predict results this November.
Topics surrounding Russian collusion have been eating up cable news for some time, and Democrats have been urging voters to turn out this fall.
“Historically, in midterm elections, the president’s party typically loses seats. It doesn’t always happen, but historically it does,” Bridge said.
Bridge explained that there are several reasons for this. One is that voters might have “fatigue” from the political party in office; they might see the other option as greener grass. The other reason is if the president has not met expectations or kept promises he made on the campaign trail.
Dr. Patrick Flavin, associate professor of political science, researches topics such as political behavior and the impact of policies on citizens’ quality of life.
“Now, more than any time in the past, citizens vote for the candidate that shares their partisan affiliation,” Flavin said. “In the past you might have some voters that split their ticket … That doesn’t happen very much, if at all, anymore. What that means is that the election is nationalized in the sense that Democrats will serve well or poorly uniformly across the country.”
Flavin said this is why it is possible to see a change in parties uniformly across the United States. Because of this nationalization of issues and partisanship, voters act in tandem with their “team.”
This could be the result of the negative press on President Trump, and the scandals that have plagued his White House administration could have a big impact on which box voters fill in. Recent indictments and charges filed against former Trump affiliates certainly stir up conversation, and they could have an impact on what unfolds.
One thing is for certain; political junkies will be reaching for the popcorn come November.