November 4, 2014

THE MCEVOY MINUTE | The Silver Lining of the Democrats’ (Inevitable) Midterm Loss

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By EMILY MCEVOY

The consensus over who will capture the Senate in today’s midterm elections seems clear — almost every major polling and news agency has predicted that the Republicans will be victors for some time now. Soon, all eyes will turn towards the 2016 election, and the Republican party will be eager to assert that its mid-term election gains mean that it is favored to win the Presidency, as well. There are several reasons, however, why a Republican win today is not as significant as they might hope.

To start, historical precedent shows that the party that does not hold the White House tends to make gains in both branches of Congress during midterm elections — since the 1910 midterms (when William Taft was in office) the party of the incumbent President has, on average, lost 30 seats in the House and four seats in the Senate. Currently, it is predicted that of the 36 seats up for reelection, Republicans will definitely win 17, and will likely win four others. If they do end up winning these races (which would total to 51 Republicans in the Senate), they will have gained six seats.

The last time two presidents were elected back-to-back from the same party was Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush – and Reagan lost EIGHT Senate seats in his second term before Bush was elected. Democrats are likely being punished for the government’s inability get anything accomplished, since they appear to the public to hold more governing power. If, however, a similar lack of inefficiency persists over the next two years under a Republican dominated Congress, there will be no easy target to blame during the 2016 campaigns.

The demographic of midterm voters also heavily favors the Republican Party. Compared to those who turn out to vote in Presidential elections, midterm voters are older, whiter and wealthier. Both the nonwhite and young voters do not tend to make it to the polls, and Democrats heavily rely on the voting power of these two populations. In 2016, however, the nonwhite voters (especially the Hispanics) will presumably make a larger impact, since several swing states are experiencing high nonwhite population growth. For example, it is estimated that 600,000 new Hispanics will be able to vote in Florida in 2016, compared to only 125,000 new white voters. The presidential elections will draw the minority groups that did not vote in the midterms and the newly eligible Hispanic population to the polls in 2016 — most of whom will vote blue.

Lastly, compared to the Democrats who have been rallying around Hillary Clinton for some time now, the Republicans lack a strong potential candidate for whom the party can start building up support. Names like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and Rand Paul have been tossed around, but no one has garnered very much excitement in the public or the party. A tough primary process seems likely, which would only benefit the Democratic nominee. Already, potential candidates have begun attacks on one another. Cruz, for example, has reportedly dismissed Christie’s campaign on several occasions, calling him “the Rudy Giuliani of this cycle.” A bloody fight for the Republican nomination ensures that the public hears negative information about the candidate from not only the Democratic Party, but from Republican Party as well.

While it seems clear that the Republican Party will come out of the midterm elections with a majority in the Senate and seat gains in the House, the road to 2016 is still clear for the Democrats. In the meantime, we must all hope that somehow President Obama and a Republican Congress can find a way to get along — because two more years of the inefficient, unproductive, uncooperative government that we have been experiencing would be disastrous for both parties, and the country.

Emily McEvoy is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at emcevoy@cornellsun.com. The McEvoy Minute appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.