Generally, the least politically active generation is the youngest eligible to vote. As one approaches their 18th birthday, there are signs everywhere advertising how to register, the importance of voting and pushing the public to become involved in America’s democracy Sometimes, it’s hard for students to fully grasp the responsibility to vote, which races they should be researching, establishing who’s on their ballots and how to be fully informed when it comes time to submit their ballot. Before the midterms, the Political Science Club at ESD hosted a debate to inform eligible young voters on party platforms showcasing representatives for both sides of the Texas gubernatorial race. Midterms generally are difficult because they don’t receive nearly as much media attention as the presidential races. Regardless, as first-time voters, many students struggle with which positions are up for election and since the election, it’s just as critical to realize who won, what they stand for and how citizens can learn for next time so because of this we culminated the most critical election results for the average ESD voter from the most recent midterms.
The most well-known election in Texas, and one of the highlights nationwide, probably was the battle between incumbent Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke. With extreme polarization and increased media coverage, this race was divisive among neighbors and friends. On Nov. 8, Abbott was declared the winner with 54.8 percent of the votes. Some heavy-hitting ballot items included gun and abortion regulation. With the recent Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v. Wade and Texas’ own law banning abortions after six weeks, many voters were anxious to take to the polls from both sides of the aisle.
The Political Science Club had an Abbott and Beto debate.
“[Senior] Maddy Hammett played the part of Abbott and [junior] Barrow [Soloman] played the part of Beto,” upper school history teacher Marc Salz said. “What was interesting, is I don’t think either of them was arguing their own political perspectives. They were just going out and trying to find the positive [on each candidate] and that’s the main thing that we want when we have these conversations.”
The club held this debate a week before election day and the room was full of underclassmen who wanted to hear from both sides without bias. The political science club was founded on the idea that they weren’t Conservative Student Union and they weren’t Progressive Student Union, they were established as a space for everyone.
“Beto’s issues focus a lot on women’s reproductive rights and the failures of Abbott’s governorship in terms of, the storm issue and guns in schools, and then Abbott was mostly focusing on border security and the safety of children,” Salz said. “[The students in the debate] understood what was important and they addressed that.”
Political Science Club member and senior Amber Donahue turned 18 just before the midterms and paid special attention to dialogue around elections.
“There are a lot of extremes,” Donahue said. “I heard a lot of younger kids who wanted to vote. I think we have a lot to work on with polarization but I liked getting to hear different opinions during the political science debate.”
Dallas county judge
A position that typically doesn’t hold a lot of attention or weight was recognized in this election cycle. The position of judge was extremely overlooked in the pre-Covid-19 era, but as statewide restrictions took place, so did protests from the judge. The incumbent, Clay Jenkins, has been the Dallas County judge since 2011 and maintained his position with a winning percentage of 29 percent over Lauren Davis. When Covid-19 related mandates were being controlled by Gov. Greg Abbott, citizens saw how much power the county judge had over what was actually implemented and how it affected the people of Dallas County.
“I think that the judge position is one we didn’t realize had so much power until Jenkins was put in a place to use it,” senior Elizabeth Sawers said. “We did some projects in AP Government about the midterms and that really helped me realize what positions were up for election including Dallas County Judge.”
If some of these positions had been up for election during the presidential election they wouldn’t have gotten as much attention as they did in the midterms. When the president is up for election it seems to cloud the other elections and, even though the gubernatorial race took the most press, there was still an extreme focus on local government and what they can do for citizens.
“We did one project where we were told to take pictures of yard signs around our houses and then do research on that candidate and their opponents,” Sawers said. “I liked seeing how even though we all live in similar proximity to each other there were so many races that were different because of our districts. I was happy that Dallas county rallied behind Jenkins who did so much for the Dallas people in the midst of Covid-19.”
Presidential control has Presidential control has a heavy influence on legislative control, especially during midterms. What would normally be a shifting senate in a Democratic presidency to Republican control unusually remained in favor of Democrats. While Texas didn’t have any seats up for election, a state that was crucial in this national election was Georgia.
“I think it was really interesting to see so much media attention around a senate race that would normally only interest the people in that state,” senior Blair Brennan said. “With such a close race nationwide to determine who would have control over the senate, it was really cool to watch what happened in Georgia.”
While the outcome of Georgia didn’t ultimately break the tie or push the democrats to get the majority of 50 seats, it was still an interesting election to watch because of how close it was.
“Because of the narrow margin that Raphael Warnock held in the November midterms, the state of Georgia [held] another election for this position on Dec. 6,” Brennan said. “While it was a close election with Warnock having won his special election in 2020 and Herschel Walker picking up a lot of press and supporters as it came down to the line, it changed how the senate will operate next year with Warnock’s win.”
A 50-50 split with the democratic vice president would’ve given the majority to the democrats. A 51 to 49 split will also give control to democrats but will no longer require a power-sharing agreement on committees which can significantly increase the speed of legislation.
“Getting to see this Georgia election really helped me realize how important our votes are,” Brennan said. “The margin in the midterm and runoff were so close and it really shows the impact of a few more votes potentially stopping a runoff.”