Monday, February 17

Event helps students understand trends in midterm election results

Brian Hamel, a political science Ph.D. candidate, said he sees the midterm results as a sign of a new trend of larger voter turnout, and expects even greater Democrat voter turnout in 2020. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

A UCLA Ph.D. candidate said the increased voter turnout in last Tuesday’s midterm election was due to greater enthusiasm among voters.

The UCLA Center for Liberal Arts and Free Institutions, along with the Bruin Political Union, co-hosted the event “Midterm Elections: What Happened and Why Does It Matter?” to explain the trends and patterns in the election results. Brian Hamel, a Ph.D. student in political science, analyzed the outcomes of the midterm elections at an event Friday to help students understand the results.

Hamel talked about ways voters swung based on race, location and education. Particularly, he noted that more independent, suburban white women turned out to vote this year than they did in past elections.

Victoria Sheber, CLAFI president and fourth-year history and American literature and culture student, said the event aimed to facilitate political discourse among students about what to make of the election results.

“Both CLAFI and BPU feel that events like this are necessary on campus in order to facilitate productive conversation surrounding politics, especially in the partisan climate of today,” Sheber said.

Hamel used data compiled from news sources to examine possible factors that influenced the election, including voter enthusiasm. Hamel said enthusiasm proved a key factor in motivating both parties to get out and vote.

He added Democrats gained at least 30 House seats total, while the Republicans who did lose their seats in the House were generally anti-Trump, which left the GOP more conservative as a whole.

Therese Boles, CLAFI vice president and third-year history student, said the event helped her understand why U.S. Senate races turned out the way they did in other states.

“I was really curious about why the Texas Senate bid was so close, and I got a better vision about that,” Boles said.

Following Hamel’s presentation, students participated in a nonpartisan Q&A session that covered topics including election results in other states, voter demographics and campaign funding.

Hamel said the discussion with the students was engaging as they talked about what Americans can expect from the House and Senate in the next few years.

“One of the main takeaways (of the discussion) was thinking about how dramatic the shift was for the Democratic Party this election, and what it means for them moving forward,” Hamel said.

Hamel expects voter turnout to increase even further in the 2020 elections, especially with the progress the Democrats have made during the midterms by taking the House. Recent elections have shown that Democrat constituents haven’t turned out like Republican constituents have, but these past midterm elections signal the beginning of a shift toward increased voter turnout.

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Assistant Opinion editor

Panaligan is an Assistant Opinion editor. He was previously an Opinion columnist, and writes about issues regarding higher education and student life.

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