We know you’ve been watching election returns, and Political Union has been too. Here are several initial reactions from executive board members (none of which speak for the club as a whole) about races they were watching or trends they were noticing as election night unfolded.
On November 3rd, I had my eye on the North Carolina senate race. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, this was the most expensive senate race in history, with newcomer Cal Cunningham trying to edge out incumbent Thom Tillis. The race cost the candidates nearly $71 million, and contributions from PACs brought the total to nearly $280 million. As of this morning, Tillis has given his victory speech, though Cunningham has not conceded and the race has not been called by any major networks. Some mail-in ballots remain to be counted, and ballots postmarked by election day continue to arrive. I remain on the edge of my seat.
I try to keep my hottest takes far away from this blog. But here’s one that’s becoming increasingly apparent to me. As young voters, we need to become more comfortable with a lower level of influence. We have been the far-and-away agenda setters on the left for a decade now, with a bully pulpit constructed out of social media platforms and a falling median age among journalists in mainstream media publications. That our views are consistently well to the left of the country’s as a whole is not an issue. But what is a problem is how routinely we convince ourselves as a generation that our political will is equivalent to the prevailing political zeitgeist of the country. This is how we mislead ourselves about outcomes of future elections, and how we mislead our favored politicians into campaigning to the wrong audience.
I spent this past fall in Maine, and in those five weeks, I saw more political ads than I had seen in my nineteen years of life. Despite not actually being a Maine voter, I ended up very invested in the crucial Senate race between Sara Gideon and Susan Collins. This race is interesting for many political reasons--but, honestly, none of those reasons are why I’m writing about Maine. I’m writing about Maine because those ads were everywhere. This is my ode to those ads--to the slow motion shots of Susan Collins and Sarah Gideon walking, to the quotes from dudes in flannel shirts showing their support of Collins, and the different quotes from different dudes in flannel shirts showing their support of Sarah Gideon. And, of course, to the beautiful phrase “Mainers.” Thanks for being the background noise of my October. I don’t know the results of the Maine Senate race yet. Pretty much everything is still unsure right now. So, I’m thankful now more than ever for the consistency that Sarah Gideon’s and Susan Collins’ ads brought to my time in Maine. Whenever I turned on the TV, I knew exactly what to expect--and that’s not something to take for granted.
However this ends up, the things I know are that Trump outperformed expectations, the data showing Latino voters for Trump is concerning for Democrats, and I’ll have trouble trusting the pollsters ever again. I only hope this is resolved decisively one way or another.
As a Hoosier, I was lucky to see my home state of Indiana finish up their vote tallying really early on in the night. As expected, we went red. Like, completely red. Like, Trump won by a nearly 20 point margin, our incumbent Republican governor Eric Holcomb by 37, and our incumbent Republican House Representative of District 3 Jim Banks by 39. I didn’t even get my choice candidates for school board representatives elected! We went red all the way and then some. Is anyone surprised? No, not really. The Indiana election results were a little disheartening for me, to say the least, but my silver lining is that I’ll finally stop getting 5 text messages a day asking me if I’ve voted yet.
Democrats cemented their new status as the party of wealthy towns on Tuesday night. Fairfield County, Connecticut has the highest economic inequality of anywhere in America, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the presidential electoral map. Every single town and city except one, rich or low-income, went blue on Tuesday night, despite the county containing various wealthy towns that used to vote red. (Unlike many other places in the county, the one Trump-voting town is not particularly wealthy or low-income.) For example, in Darien, the tenth richest place in America according to Bloomberg, over 60% of people voted for Joe Biden. 2016 and 2020 have been the only times that Darien has voted blue since 1888. The results in southwestern Connecticut appear to be a part of a wider trend in America, as wealthy White communities voted blue in 2016, and in 2020 Democrats dominated the donation race in wealthy towns.
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