Andrew McIntyre’15

As most people interested in politics know, the Republican Party gained back a majority in the Senate in the recent midterm elections. In addition to already controlling the House of Representatives they now control both houses of Congress. Does this indicate a shift of American voters to the right in future elections? While some may jump to conclusions and agree with this statement they neglect to mention a number of variables that likely played into the favor of the Republicans in the past election. These variables include: the low voter turnout, the influence of a potential female presidential candidate in the 2016 election, and the naivety of the average voter.

It is no secret that turnout is typically much lower in midterm elections and it seems as though this trend continued in 2014. With low turnout, Republicans were able to pull out close senate wins in many states. Thus, while it seems as though the Republican Party is gaining support of the American public it is in reality mainly due to low turnout. The Republican Party has reason to be concerned, especially due to the fact that young people currently tend to vote liberal. In addition, as the minority population grows – and in particular the Hispanic American population – the Republican Party will be furthered weakened. This is due to the fact that outside of the Cuban-American community, most Hispanic Americans vote democrat. Turnout is at its highest during presidential elections, and this does not bode well for Republicans in 2016.

The election in 2016 also has shown signs of a woman presidential candidate potentially running for the Democrat party. This could have an enormous impact on the election. Currently, women tend to vote liberal, and a woman candidate may sway women on the fence to vote democrat. Much has been said of Hilary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and other potential nominations. This excitement about having a woman president could match the excitement that surround President Barack Obama in the 2008 election. The Democratic Party would be foolish to not nominate a woman candidate in the 2016 elections, as the majority of Americans think it’s about time we have one. The possible wild card would be if Republicans were to nominate a woman candidate.

A third reason that U.S. voters have not shifted completely to the right is the naivety of the average voter. Most Americans are not political science graduates and have very little interest in politics. These voters will vote on what they see as their day to day realities. For example, if one party is in office and it seems as though they are getting little done they will switch to the other party in the next election. These people fail to realize that in the past few years Obama has been trying to pass legislation but Republicans continuously reject his proposed bills. With both houses of Congress now “red” and the presidency “blue,” there is little hope of getting many bills passed during the remainder of President Obama’s term in office. This will hurt Republicans who have tried to show that they are going to get bills passed now that they are in power.

The 2014 elections have not been very different from past midterm elections, and voters have not gone to the right for good. Increased Republican wins are a result of low overall turnout, the non-impact of a presidential year and woman nomination, as well as the naivety of the average voter. This cycle of going back and forth between political parties will likely continue due to lack of understanding about how government works. Only time will tell if this ideological shift will persist.