Local experts react to the midterm election’s ‘blue wave’

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest female elected to Congress during the recent midterm elections.
Photo Courtesy of the St. Lucia Times.

There was a “blue wave’” during the midterm elections, and that wave carried the Democratic Party to victory in the House of Representatives. While the Democrats may have lost seats in the U.S. Senate, they have captured the House majority after being locked out of power after the 2016 presidential election.

It was a night of historic firsts for women and minority candidates.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won New York’s 14th congressional district, is a prime example. Her victory made her the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Or Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, who is the first Somali-American elected to the U.S. Congress. Or even Sharice Davids, of Kansas’ 3rd congressional district, who, along with New Mexico’s Deb Haaland, are the first Native American women in Congress.

“When I see women, and women and men of color being elected to Congress, I feel a sense of pride in America. Finally, our governing body truly reflects the diversity of our citizens. I am proud of their parts of America that are embracing the strengths of these magnificent women, who will lead us forward. The interests of women and people of color will have a voice in Congress,” said Elise Ray Mohallil, associate professor of humanities at Tallahassee Community College.

“Women on both sides of the political spectrum are becoming the most powerful voting block in modern politics. It would benefit them by electing other women who share their values and will fight to promote public policy that empowers women. I’m glad to see more women and minorities take leadership because our party is more successful when it represents its constituents to the fullest,” said Larry D. Simmons Sr, an outreach specialist from Gadsden County.

The historic number of women and minority Democratic candidates elected to public office mirrored the sway of voters in the midterm election. According to a CNN exit poll, Democrats won the female vote by 19 points, with 59 percent voting Democrat, and 40 percent voting Republican.

According to an article in the Washington Post, that margin of victory is the largest in the history of exit polls, and the largest margin since 1982, when 58 percent of women voted Democrat, and 41 percent voted Republican.

Among minority voters, the margins were even more staggering. In CNN’s exit polls, black voters voted an overwhelming 92 percent for Democrat, and only 9 percent for Republican. Latino and Asian voters were also massive victories for Democrats, with Latino voters polling 69 percent Democrat, to 29 percent Republican. And Asian voters polled at 77 percent Democrat to 23 percent Republican.

“I think that the president’s hateful rhetoric was definitely a key for getting out many of the voters who voted this election. Unfortunately, I also think he riles up the bigots and gets them to the polls too. I wish we had more progressive voters in Florida. We are definitely making gains in this state and even in this country, but this isn’t the time for everyone to become complacent or apathetic. Our lives depend on it,” Mohallil said.

With control of the House, the Democrats now have the authority to exercise oversight of President Trump’s administration. This means the House could launch investigations into Trump’s finances, including going after his tax returns, as well as launch a probe into Trump’s relationship with the Russian government, which Trump has denied any collusion with in his bid to capture the White House.

“For the past few election cycles, this has been the case with past presidents, including President Barack Obama. Much of his agenda came to a halt when he lost control of both houses of Congress. I hope that the Democrats will investigate his taxes, Russian involvement, and some other unseemly activities, but I hope their first and most important priority is the needs of the people, the needs of healing, and restoring sanity back to government,” Simmons said.