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The Blue & Gray Press | May 28, 2018

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Midterm Elections Turn House Red

Midterm Elections Turn House Red

Tuesday’s midterm election brought Republican control back to the House of Representatives and stole six seats from the Democrat-controlled Senate, with a landslide victory for First District incumbent Rep. Rob Wittman and Seventh District incumbent Rep. Eric Cantor.

In the election results, Wittman garnered 64 percent of votes, with Democrat Krystal Ball earning 34 percent and Independent Gail Parker with 1 percent, according to the New York Times.

Within the City of Fredericksburg alone, Wittman earned 2,374 votes, compared to Ball’s 2,252 votes, according to statistics from the Virginia State Board of Elections.

The College Republicans and the Young Democrats had an active role encouraging UMW students to vote in the midterm election, despite the underwhelming percentage of young voters at the polls.

According to the Washington Post, younger voters typically support Democrat candidates, but only 11 percent of the electorate Tuesday were between the ages of 18 and 29 years old.

Erica Gouse, chairman for the College Republicans, said the election was not only considered a victory within the City of Fredericksburg, but was also a victory for the club’s recognition on campus.

“We were overwhelmed with happiness,” Gouse said.  “We did this as a team, and definitely, the College Republicans feel like a part of that as well.”

President of the Young Democrats Ryan Gallasch said the amount of student voters from the 2008 presidential election is hard to compare to.

“I think it’s hard to repeat that, but I think it’s higher than it has been,” Gallasch said.  “More students are aware of elections now since 2008.”

In the week preceding the election, the College Republicans covered the campus in red posters encouraging students to vote.  While the club has received criticism for the posters, Gouse said she was not trying to push the College Republicans’ beliefs on students.

“We’re making people aware of what’s going on,” Gouse said.

However, Gallasch said voting initiatives would be more effective if students had more notice.

“It was nice they told people to vote red, but they didn’t really give them the means to do that,” Gallasch said.  He said the Young Democrats typically help give students rides to voting centers and help them register to vote.

Wittman was first elected to the House of Representatives in December 2007 and was re-elected for his first full term in November 2008, according to his website.

Gouse said Wittman made government spending one of his main campaign platforms, focusing on being more intentional with funds in places where they can make an impact.

According to Wittman’s website, he aims to bring back more conservative spending habits.

Gallasch said this shift in politics is typical.

“In the past two elections, Democrats have made a lot of gains; it’s hard to keep that going for a lot of election cycles,” Gallasch said.  “We did a lot, and we’re proud that we did that.”

The First Congressional District of Virginia spans the east side of the state, including the cities of Fredericksburg and Williamsburg, as well as Richmond.

“This really gets us recognized with making a difference that we can see,” Gouse said.

Photo courtesy of Erica Gouse