Western Courier

Professors organize Discussion on election results

Juan Casas, Courier Staff

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Last Thursday, the Department of Political Science held a three-panel discussion event at Western Illinois University.

The panel consisted of three political science professors at Western: Dr. Keith Boeckelman, Dr. Jonathon Day and Dr. Jongo Lee. The discussion took place in Morgan Hall 101. The panel is a tradition in the political science program, and it’s where the department has analyzed mid-term election results and their implications for the past decade.

Lee began his presentation by declaring that there were only two possible outcomes from the election that could have been foreseen. The first is what he calls “conventional wisdom.” In this scenario, the president’s political party would win or lose seats based primarily on the president’s national approval rating. Lee stated that this system is almost always certain, in that if the president’s approval ratings were low then they could expect his party to lose seats, and if they were high, we would expect to see a gain. Historically and traditionally, this is true.

The second possible outcome is what Lee named the “Liberal, Democratic and media allies” scenario. This is where the presumption was of the total objection of the president’s views. In other words, a blue wave, in which most elections would go to the Democratic emblem. This was the popular expectation amongst Democrats and Independents.

Yet, it appears that what happened closely resembled the traditional, conventional wisdom scenario instead of the blue wave theme because it was not a total republican wipeout. Instead, Lee called the election results a “blue tied, if not a wave, met with a Republican wall, producing a split decision or a normal mid-term correction.” The president was not completely defeated (albeit he did not lose the house) and that his message still holds strong in the minds of Conservatives. Overall, Lee’s analysis is that the American voter remains moderate.

Day was the second professor to present his analysis. He asked the audience what we should have expected from the results. He then introduced what the Department of Political Science uses: a formula for predicting midterm election results that are based on various variables, like the president’s approval rating or the state of the economy. Day explained how to use this method which allows him to successfully come within proximity to the actual results. This further cements the importance of the equation.

Boeckelman gave the final presentation, where he detailed the historical context of the midterm elections of the past decade. For example, he illustrated how, in the midterm elections in 2010, the then-Democratic President, Barack Obama, lost more than 900 seats across the country to Republicans.

Even prior to this, the Republican Party has dominated state elections and governments.

Bringing the subject up to date, Boeckelman reminded the audience of the record breaking fundraising and campaign financing of Democrat J.B. Pritzker, who will be the next Governor of Illinois. The Governor-elect spent more than $170 million of his own dollars to win. Boeckelman also believes the political spectrum is changing. He says the votes indicate that Democrats, for the first time in a very long time, appeared to have won over middle-class suburban women. Suburbs across the country have historically been Republican strongholds, but they turned to Democrats in the 2018 midterm election, which could be attributed to the President’s poor approval ratings amongst highly educated, white middle-class households.

It was obvious that women played a larger role than normal in the 2018-midterm elections, according to the panel. They concluded that the record-breaking number of women who ran for office and won all across the nation, is forever changing the political landscape for generations to come. “It is a pleasure to come together after an election to discuss the results,” Boeckelman said

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Professors organize Discussion on election results