What Happened to the Red Wave?

Photo Credit: FiveThirtyEight/Getty Images

By Maggie Stalnecker

The political “Red Wave” the country expected ahead of the midterm elections last week turned out to be nothing more than a small tide, even with the highest inflation rates the country has seen in nearly 40 years, unscientific Covid lockdowns, and skyrocketing crime. It turns out that many of the major, pre-election polling outlets, such as CNN and FiveThirtyEight, determined that the economy was sure to be a top issue among voters, and the solution seemed to be to elect Republican candidates to the available House and Senate seats. However, it now seems that other issues and priorities took precedence for voters in many swing states. In fact, Democrats retained control of the Senate, and many Republican candidates who were favored to win their races, such as Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, lost. If last week’s election results confirmed one thing, it’s that Americans have decided that emotionally-charged topics like climate change, abortion, and gun control hold more importance than whether they can afford gas or groceries.   

For example, the states that had abortion propositions on the ballot (California, Kentucky, Vermont, Michigan, and Montana) all saw their respective measures passed in favor of legal abortion procedures. Montana’s ballot measure, which would have simply mandated that a baby born alive after a failed abortion be afforded the medical care of a legal person, was even rejected. While these ballot measures are constitutionally correct in reserving the abortion vote to the states, it is still a sad statement on where our country has decided to place its value. It’s discouraging and disheartening, to say the least, to see unity in this specific area during an election that was otherwise lacking.

Despite the fact that these election results did not come close to meeting expectations for Republicans, all is not lost for conservatives. They recently took over control of the House of Representatives, ending Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s disastrous reign as Speaker of the House. Because of this, Republicans will have more sway in the Legislative branch, dividing government and impeding the Democrats’ agenda. This is not nearly the “Red Wave” that was predicted before the election, but it does signal a political swing among the American people. Candidates like Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke, who have been running for office for several election cycles, were again defeated, showing that those in their respective states still will not be persuaded by condescension and pandering. This is an indication that some voters, at least, are ready for a change and willing to take the necessary action to move toward electing officials with the policies to make that happen.

It will be interesting to see what these results mean for the elections in 2024. With former President Donald Trump announcing his campaign to run for president once again, we are sure to see another election cycle full of emotion, division, and political excitement. As the economy will likely continue on its current path and a probable Supreme Court vacancy will occur over the next few years, it will be up to the American people, yet again, to make a decision about what is important to them in the leaders that we elect. 

In the meantime, Republicans need to take a hard look at who they are putting support behind, which candidates actually have the ability to win over the American people, and how they can unify, rather than divide their own party. Supporting a greater number of candidates that are younger, represent their constituencies well, and can provide viable, practical solutions to the very real problems that Americans are facing is needed and will ultimately win elections. As a country, we must stay informed, know the issues, and study how they will affect us so that we can finally see change happen for the better.

Ms. Stalnecker is a senior at Chapman University. She is majoring in accounting.

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