The midterm elections have wrapped up and effectively changed the function of the United States government. Here is a look back at how this election was different and what it means for the future.
First, it should be noted that this midterm election had incredible voter turnout. According to CBS News, this election had the highest voter participation of all time, with 113 million Americans voting. This was the first instance that over 100 million voters made it to midterm elections. That means that 49 percent of eligible voters made it to the polls.
University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) political science professor Paul Landow spent his election night delivering election analysis for news stations in Omaha. He described the results as “not surprising.”
“It was a pretty good night for progressives,” Landow said. “I think you could also say it was about as good a night as progressives could expect in Nebraska.”
UNO political science professor Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado also shared insight about how the election impacted Nebraska and the country as a whole.
On the local level, Landow and Benjamin-Alvarado agree that the most intense race was between Rep. Don Bacon and political newcomer Kara Eastman. The final results left only around a 2 percent lead for Bacon.
One prevalent criticism of Eastman from conservatives was how much further left she was from past Nebraskan Democrat candidates. Fellow Democrat and former Representative Brad Ashford was a more moderate option that lost to Eastman in the primary election earlier this year.
“Is she a socialist? No, not by my definition,” Landow said. “But I guarantee you that in some ultra-conservatives’ definitions she’s definitely a socialist.”
Landow did believe that Eastman was considerably further to the left—but that didn’t necessarily hurt her odds in Nebraska. While traditionally it has helped Democrats to have more moderate candidates in predominantly conservative states, the political game has changed. Eastman’s close race proved that saddling up to more progressive policies can reap benefits in a polarized political climate.
Gov. Pete Ricketts defeated Sen. Bob Krist by a significant margin in the gubernatorial race. The race was not significant for either party—Ricketts was slated to win from the beginning—but it does mark Ricketts’ continued support and strengthening political position.
Benjamin-Alvarado believes that Ricketts may even be a possible contender for a future presidential bid.
“I would not be surprised,” Benjamin-Alvarado said. “I think it’s been in the cards for him since the beginning. He’s a very ambitious individual who thinks very highly of himself. I don’t know if his message resonates nationally.”
On the national level the House flipped—as Landow and Benjamin-Alvarado said was highly expected. Now with a Democratic majority, Republicans won’t be able to pass legislation nearly as easily as before.
“President Trump losing the House will not help him in his reelection,” Landow said. “It will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for him to get anything done in the next two years.”
Benjamin-Alvarado echoed Landow’s statements that the president will now face difficulties that he had never encountered before during the first two years of his administration.
“The fact that he fired Jeff Sessions signals to me that he’s preparing for a fight around potential indictments or hearings being undertaken by the House,” Benjamin-Alvarado said. “It’s going to be some pretty interesting politics over the next six months.”
Upon wrapping up the midterm elections, it becomes clear that the “blue wave” that was set to sweep the nation did not come in full force. Rather, Democrats had a significant but expected claim of power.
“There was not a blue wave,” Landow said. “I don’t know what you want to call it, but there was a mini-wave.”
The midterm results provided insight and new questions about the 2020 election cycle. Landow said that the flipping of several governors from Republican to Democrat will make a difference due to redistricting. It’s too far out to make any predictions, but the next election will almost certainly draw massive voter turnout and dramatically impact the nation’s future.