Midterm Mania for Election Day


Today, November 6, 2018, the American electorate will take to the polls and vote for who they want to represent them in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. For some West Potomac High School seniors, this will be the first time that they are eligible to vote in an election. 232 members of the Class of 2019 will be eighteen years of age on Tuesday, and yet a survey conducted by the government teachers at West Po revealed something shocking: only about six percent of those of age are actually registered to vote. Young people have never turned up in masses at the polls, especially when the office of President of the United States isn’t on the ballot. Only about twenty percent of all 18-29 year olds cast their votes in the last eight midterm elections, but 2018 isn’t a good year for four-fifths of this huge demographic to sit idly by.


In this particular midterm cycle, Republicans are aiming to retain their majorities in both houses of Congress, while the Democrats aim to recapture what they lost to the Trump train in 2016. The results of the upcoming contests will be critical to how the second half of Donald Trump’s term plays out. If the Dems unseat enough of their GOP opponents to gain a majority, bipartisanship will be necessary for any legislation to become law.


What’s on my ballot?


U.S. House of Representatives: Virginia District 8

The West Potomac community is situated entirely within Virginia’s 8th congressional district. Running for this seat from the Democratic Party is incumbent Don Beyer, Jr. Many Wolverines will recognize this name from all the car dealerships he owns along Route 1. Beyer has held this seat for two terms now, having first captured it in the 2014 contest. He served as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1990-1998 under Governors Doug Wilder (D) and George Allen (R), and U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein from 2009-2013 under President Barack Obama (D). Challenging him from the GOP is Thomas Oh, a young veteran of the United States Army (2013-2017). Since 2010, reelection rates have risen from 85% to 97% in 2016, and District 8 is a stronghold for the Democrats, so it will undoubtedly be an uphill climb for Oh.


Across the country, all 435 House seats are up for election. Many reputable polling sites, such as FiveThirtyEight, RealClearPolitics, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball, have indicated that the Democrats could win at least 218 districts, which would result in a blue majority in the House for the first time since 2010. Furthermore, with the retirement of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), congressmen will need to elect his successor. The Speaker of the House of Representatives is the top legislative official in the federal government, and second in line for presidential succession. If the party with the majority can reach a consensus on their nominee, they can almost certainly elevate him to the Speakership.


U.S. Senate: Virginia

Incumbent Tim Kaine (D) has served Virginia since 1998 in various offices including Mayor of Richmond, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Governor of Virginia, and since 2013, U.S. Senator from Virginia. In the 2005 gubernatorial, 2012 U.S. Senate, and 2016 presidential elections, Kaine was the heavy favorite among voters in Northern Virginia; he was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016. His opponent is Republican Corey Stewart, who is currently the Chair of the Board of Supervisors of Prince William County. In 2017, he lost the primary in the Virginia gubernatorial election by just 4,320 votes to Ed Gillespie, who was defeated by Ralph Northam (D) in the general election. Senate reelection rates came in at 93% in 2016, the highest percentage since 2004.


Unlike the House of Representatives, only one-third of the seats are up for election every two years in the Senate. In order for the Dems to gain control of the upper chamber, they will need to flip two more seats than the Republicans, as the GOP currently hold a 51-49 majority. This will be exceptionally difficult because only nine red seats are available, compared to twenty-six open blue seats.

What can I do if I didn’t register or am underage?

If you’re not 18 yet, there are still different ways you can do to do your part in your community without voting.

Canvassing is a popular campaign strategy done by kids and teenagers. It involves using a script and walking door to door trying to convince people in the neighborhood to vote. Young Democrats club advisor Mr. Cadorette agrees saying, “Canvassing is definitely one of the most effective ways of getting people to vote.”

Phone banking and writing letters are other options where people go to the headquarters’ campaigns and call people using a script or write to people to remind them the election is coming up. 

West Po has a Young Democrats and a Young Republicans club you can join to learn more information about elections coming up, and how you can participate in democracy without being 18. Mr. Cadorette is the Young Democrats advisor, they have already started meetings, and the advisor process for the Young Republicans club is still in the works and they have not had meetings yet this year, but they will in the future.