Senate goes red, Virginia still up in the air after midterms
By HOPE RACINE
One of the most dramatic midterm elections in recent years came to a close Tuesday night, resulting in a massive shift of political control in Washington.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives now lay firmly in Republican hands after Republican candidates seized at least seven of the six necessary seats to take the Senate majority. Their grasp on the House was reaffirmed as well, with current results coming in at 243 Republican seats to 175 Democratic seats.
Some states saw very tight races, such as the Virginia senatorial race, where Democratic incumbent Mark Warner holds around a 16,000 vote lead over Republican Ed Gillespie. Though Warner gave a victory speech on Tuesday night, as of Wednesday Gillespie had still not conceded. AP called the race too close to officially call at the time of publication for The Blue & Gray Press.
Virginia does not have an automatic recount law, though candidates can request a recount if the race comes within one percent. However, if there is more than a 0.5 percent difference, the candidate requesting the recount must pay for it themselves.
Warner’s lead serves as a stand out in the otherwise purple Virginia, which saw Republican representatives picking up victories in many districts.
In the First Congressional District, which encompasses part of the city of Fredericksburg, as well as parts of Caroline, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties, among thirteen others, Republican incumbent Rob Wittman pulled in almost thirty percent more of the vote than his main challenger, Democrat Norm Mosher.
However, some states will not be determined for quite some time. Alaska, which is notoriously slow to report results, has still not called their election, and Louisiana has gone to a runoff until December, as neither of the senatorial candidates were able to pull in more than 50 percent of the vote.
Despite the nation going majority red, voters expressed support for more liberal issues, such as legalizing marijuana in two more states as well as the District of Columbia. Voters in Colorado and North Dakota struck down bills that would restrict abortion access, and Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota passed referendums to raise the minimum wage.
Voter turnout, while notoriously low in midterm elections, was particularly lacking in certain states this year. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, 41 percent of eligible Virginia voters came out to the polls, while some estimates state that Ohio pulled its lowest percentage for midterm elections ever this year.
Another landmark result of the election is that for the first time, over 100 of the 435 members of Congress are female. Though final tallies are not in yet, the current count shows 20, possibly 21, women in the Senate and 81 in the House, which could potentially be raised to 85. As a result, 26 states have now sent a female representative to Congress
While all results are not in, President Obama already stated his obligation to work with the Republican Congress on issues where both parties agree – though White House officials stated that he has no intention of pivoting to the right in the face of Tuesday’s result.