Republicans win House and Senate in midterm elections

In the midterm election on Nov. 4, local Senate candidate and Republican Thom Tillis ousted Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and surpassed Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh.

The Senate and House races were not the sole issues of the midterm election. Voters voted for Supreme Court justices, local sheriffs and referendums.

One referendum allowed criminal defendants to waive their right to trial by jury in non – death penalty trials. Voters passed this proposal while rejecting one that would have increased the sales tax by 25 cents per $100 to fund public education.

“(Education) is so important to American society,” said junior Victoria Saraldi. “To cut funding from schools in order to not have to pay an extra 25 cents is ridiculous and pretty irresponsible.”

Many, however, were content with the election results.

“I thought it was a big statement, basically, on the country’s satisfaction with what has been going on for the past several years,” said sophomore and President of the Guilford College Republicans Harrison Houlihan. “I think it’s an opportunity.”

Others, like Assistant Professor of Political Science Robert Duncan, do not see a bright future after this election.

“I think we’re headed for two more years of gridlock and finger-pointing,” said Duncan. “We’re going to see more tax breaks for the wealthy and oppression of the poor and the middle class — more and more regression of the advances made in this country.”

Despite the definitive nature of the election results, several factors, excluding the voters’ decisions, affected election results.

According to ThinkProgress, thanks to a new law that bans voting in a different precinct, many voters tried to vote in the wrong place. In addition, a shorter early voting period prevented some people from showing up to the polls. Numerous previous polling places closed this year, and problems were reported with the voting machines themselves, though they were later resolved.

The main hindrance, however, was a lack of voter turnout.

“(In politics), nobody really changes anything,” said senior Michael Carlini. “They just talk about change. That’s partially why (I decided not to vote). I was waiting to see if one person would have a commercial without cutting down another person. It all needs to change.”

The Koch brothers, billionaires who backed Republican candidates around the country with generous donations, funded Tillis’ campaign heavily. They even aired an ad that supported Haugh in an effort to stray voters away from voting for Hagan.

“Try as we might, we just can’t keep corporate special interests from buying our politicians,” said candidate Haugh in a political ad.

Hagan’s campaign was another story, according to Hagan’s Campaign Press Intern and senior Josh Weil.

“We ran a near-perfect campaign in my eyes,” said Weil. “It was definitely a shock (when she did not win). We accomplished a lot, and we got a lot of issues out onto the table.”

Weil offered an explanation for the results.

“I think people are angry,” he said. “People are fed up with party politics.

“However, people are also … very reactionary. The president’s approval is not super high, and therefore they voted against his entire party.”

Whether citizens feel satisfied or frustrated by the results of the midterm elections, CCE student Jennifer Phillips offered her advice for anyone who cares about the way the government is run.

“Get out and vote,” Phillips said. “And not just vote, but learn what the politicians are saying, and what they believe in. … Look at what they plan to do once they’re in office, and then vote.”