The vitriolic campaigns between Republicans and Democrats (and some Independents) had gone on for months. November 4, 2014 was election day, the final day of voting for the midterm election. All of the 435 seats in the House and 36 out of 100 seats in the Senate were contested, as well as governorships in 38 states, and many state and local elections.
The Republican Party made major gains during this election, taking control in the Senate and increasing their majority in the House. True to tradition, this midterm election went against the executive branch’s party.
California was one of the states in which the Democrats held on to the majority of their seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. 38 out of the 53 representatives elected in California were Democrats. In California, Governor Jerry Brown was reelected, winning 59% of the vote against Republican Neel Kashkari. Neither of California’s two U.S. Senate seats were in contest during this election.
Voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was at the lowest it has been since during World War II. According to the United States Election Project, only 36% of adults eligible to vote actual cast their ballots, less than any other year since 1942, when only 34% voted. Turnout at midterm elections has been steadily dropping since a high of 49% in 1964. Midterm elections generally do not draw out nearly as many people as a presidential election; 62% of eligible voters came out for the 2008 election, which is almost double the number of people that voted this year.
According to the National Exit Polls, 7% of voters in this election were between 18 and 24 years old. Around 21% of eligible young voters voted during this election.
Several seniors at Lick-Wilmerding were eligible to vote during this election, although not all of them cast their ballot. Amelia Roskin-Frazee ’15 was among the voters and said of her decision to vote, “I think it’s a really important part of being in this country and honestly if I’m going to complain about how our country is run I should do what I can to vote for things I care about.”
Loie Plautz ’15 also decided to vote, although her actions were originally prompted by external influences. “My mom literally forced me to vote. She registered me to vote like against my will,” Plautz said laughing. However, she later acknowledged the importance of her actions, saying “I was embarrassed that I claim to be someone who’s active and making change, but I was willing to kind of like dismiss voting as unimportant, when really, if everyone thinks their voice doesn’t matter then it’s really pointless.”
Although multiple seniors could have voted, some chose not to, citing time constraints. On her decision not to cast her ballot, Sophie Schneider ’15 said,“I didn’t vote because I felt like I didn’t have enough time to make an informed decision the first time I was voting, and I also turned eighteen really close to the deadline and I missed the sign up deadline.”
Those seniors who did vote took the time to understand the choices they were making.
Roskin-Frazee stated “I did a fair amount of research. I knew what all the different things I was voting for were. I didn’t do as much research on the individual candidates for this election, because it was pretty cut and dry I felt like. But for the individual propositions I did and then I also did research on what the democratic party platform said about each thing and took that into consideration.”
When asked about her research, Plautz said, “I did some, I mean there was the information book and I talked to my parents about the issues that they were really passionate about.”
Seniors who took the time to vote found the process convenient. According to Plautz, “It was all pretty easy and there is a lot of information out there if you want it.” She had first been concerned with the time voting would take.
Roskin-Frazee shared this opinion, saying, “It was fairly easy to do especially in California where we don’t have strict voter ID laws that make voting much more of a hassle.”
In some other states, voter ID laws aimed at minorities have been used to dissuade younger voters from voting. In some cases, gun permits have been considered permissible identification, while student IDs have not. The GOP has created these programs that have kept young voters from voting booths as young voters are generally more likely to vote with the Democratic Party.
In this election, while voters aged 18 to 29 still tended to back Democrats, the gap between Republicans and Democrats in the youth vote closed somewhat. According to national exit polls, in this election, 55% of young voters voted with the Democratic Party in congressional elections and 45% voted with the Republican party. This 10-point gap is down from 16 points from the 2010 election and 22 points in the 2006 election. However, this shift could be attributed to other factors such as the lower turnout in this particular election.