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SU Students Turn Out To Vote


SU Students Turn Out To Vote


On November 8th nationwide, voters went to the polls for the United States 2022 midterm elections – including Southwestern University students. That day, SU Votes held an Election Day Festival for students on campus complete with pizza, games, and more. On that day, The Julie Puett Howry Center was transformed into a polling station as Texan voters came out. Some students had already voted early or mailed in their ballots to their home county. Southwestern students participated in this election due to the impacts that policy decisions will have on their lives, and the ensuing results were surprising for even experienced political analysts.

I was intrigued to see what Southwestern students would predict the results of this election to be as it was a pivotal toss-up for the Senate. So I took a poll on the Megaphone’s Instagram Story. I found that the students who responded expected Democrats to win the elections. Fifty-five percent of the respondents predicted that Beto O’Rourke would defeat incumbent Governor Greg Abbott. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents predicted that Democrats would retain control of the House of Representatives. And sixty-four percent predicted that Democrats would maintain control of the Senate. To many analysts, such as Five-Thirty-Eight or RealClearPolitics, there was no question that Republicans would win the House and that Governor Abbott would have a safe margin of votes to ensure his victory. On election night results trickled in and in the following days: one of Southwestern’s predictions would be proven correct.

The top three executive offices in Texas, mentioned in a previous article of mine, had the following results: Governor Greg Abbott (Rep) defeated Beto O’Rourke (Dem) by about 11% of the vote. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (Rep) defeated Mike Collier (Dem) by approximately 11% of the vote. And Attorney General Ken Paxton (Rep) defeated Rochelle Garza (Dem) by about 9% of the vote. In Williamson County, Abbott (Rep) won by about 0.61%, Collier (Dem) won the county by approximately 0.45%, and Garza (Dem) won the county by about 1.21%. These candidates all won with only a plurality of the vote for their respective races. These results reinforce what we have learned about this county in previous elections; Williamson County is an increasingly competitive area of Texas, with the county voting for Biden (Dem) by 1.41% in 2020 and Trump (Rep) by 9.71% in 2016. Statewide, Williamson County voted for Republican and Democratic candidates, which shows an increase in political competitiveness in and around Georgetown.

In regards to the House races I talked about in my previous article: in district TX-15 Monica De La Cruz (Rep) defeated Michelle Viajo (Dem) by about 8%, and in TX-28 Henry Cuellar (Dem) defeated Cassy Garcia (Rep) by about 14%. Southwestern University is located in TX-31 where John Carter (Rep) who ran unopposed, won 100% of the vote. As for the House of Representatives as a whole, Republicans won just over 218 seats which made for a slim house majority. This majority puts House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s candidacy for Speaker of the House at risk. Recently, he faced opposition within his caucus from Andy Biggs and other Republicans.

To follow up on the local elections: State Senator Schwertner (Rep) defeated Tommy Estes (Lib) for State Senate District 5 by about 43.6% of the vote, State Representative Terry M. Wilson (Rep) defeated Raul Camacho (Dem) for State Representative District 20 by about 17% of the vote, Clerk Nancy E. Rister (Rep) defeated Erica Smith (Dem) for Williamson County Clerk by about 4.86% of the vote, Judge Bill Gravell (Rep) defeated Blane Conklin (Dem) for Williamson County Judge by about 2.59%, Judge Brandy Hallford (Rep) defeated Brian McConnell (Dem) for Judge, County Court-at-Law No. 1 by about 5.26%, Judge Doug Arnold (Rep) defeated Thomas Velez (Dem) for Judge, County Court-at-Law No. 3 by about 5.08%, Judge Evelyn McLean (Rep) defeated Renée Schalk (Dem) for Williamson County Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 by about 19.74% of the vote, and Proposition A passed with just over 80% of the vote.

Although Southwestern students predicted the opposite, Republicans had safe victories for the Texas executive and won the House of Representatives; they did accurately predict that Democrats would retain the United States Senate. However: Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, and North Carolina were all close Senate races. In Ohio,  J.D. Vance (Rep) defeated Tim Ryan (Dem) by about 6% of the vote. In North Carolina, Ted Budd (Rep) defeated Cheri Beasley (Dem) by approximately 4% of the vote. In Wisconsin, Senator Ron Johnson (Rep) defeated Mandela Barnes (Dem) by about 1% of the vote. In Nevada, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (Dem) defeated Adam Laxalt (Rep) by approximately 1% of the vote. In Arizona, Senator Mark Kelly (Dem) defeated Blake Masters (Rep) by about 4% of the vote. In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman (Dem) defeated Mehmet Oz (Rep) by approximately 4% of the vote. And in Georgia, Senator Raphael Warnock (Dem) led Herschel Walker (Rep) by about 1% of the vote. However, since no candidate received a majority of the vote, a runoff election between them is required on December 6th. This will determine whether the Democrats have 50 or 51 Senate seats. However, 50 seats are all the Democrats need for a Senate Majority since Vice President Kamala Harris can break a direct tie in favor of the Democrats. If Senator Warnock is re-elected, it will be the first time since 1914 that every Senator on the ballot won their re-election. At this time, the Georgia Senate runoff race is a toss-up. Political experts are reacting as though Trump’s announcement of his 2024 Presidential campaign will sway the race toward Warnock or Walker.

While not as prominent as in the 2020 elections, the results of the 2022 midterms are under scrutiny due to claims of voter fraud. Arizona’s Maricopa County is under particularly intense scrutiny. In this county, printer and technological glitches have resulted in speculation over the integrity of their votes. This, in addition to the fact that the Democratic candidate for Governor was serving as Secretary of State and thus oversaw the election, has made the district susceptible to questioning. However, election officials in the state have attempted to dispel the notion of inauthentic results. In contrast, Florida’s election was quite smooth making it one of the first states called that evening. This is much different than the state’s debacle in 2000 with hanging chads. Most of the Republican voting surge occurred in Florida with Governor Ron DeSantis (Rep) defeating Charlie Crist (Dem) by about 19.4% of the vote. Governor Ron DeSantis previously won in Florida by 0.4% of the vote in 2018, Trump won by 3.36% of the vote in this state in 2020.

These election results will impact policies at the local, state, and national levels. Elected officials are now transitioning from campaigning to governing— from public health policy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the cost of tuition for college students, to immigration laws, to a variety of other issues. It is important to remember that their political actions subsequently affect everyone in the country, including Southwestern students. Just because the elections are over does not mean we can stop paying attention to what our leaders say and do. To become better students and citizens, Southwestern students must continue to be vigilant and critically think about current events and politics.

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