Tuesday, Nov. 8, was Election Day for the 2022 midterm elections. In what has been a remarkably close race, Vassar students cautiously expressed hope concerning the House and Senate results. As Max Brenneman ’25 said, “Going into it, I did not expect the Senate to remain in Democratic control and certainly did not think the race for the House would be so nail-bitingly close. As I’m speaking, we still don’t know who will have power.” Charlie From ’25, speaking on behalf of the Working Students Coalition (WSC), agreed: “We were all pleasantly surprised. We were expecting a Democratic wipeout which really didn’t happen.”
Indeed, CNN reported that the anticipatory “red wave” fell flat this election season, with Democrats winning critical races—Senator Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, John Fetterman in Pennsylvania and Senator Mark Kelly in Arizona, for example. Naomi Young ’24 emphasized that predictions for the past couple of elections have been inaccurate. In spite of this uncertainty, she is optimistic about the future: “The midterm elections have really eased any worry I had for Trump being a major candidate for the presidency.” She affirmed that Trump still has a major following, but that the midterms have demonstrated a popular demand for someone new. “His endorsed candidates didn’t do too well and it seems like Republicans are trying to find a new image after all of the havoc Trump has wrecked. That doesn’t mean I’m totally blasé about the threat Trump poses or the Republican party as a whole, but it’s a little less ‘do or die’ than it was in the 2020 election.”
According to a written correspondence with Michael Feltovic ’23, he said, “Most mainstream news outlets predicted a large Red Wave, so I was surprised, yet thankful, to see a clear Blue lead in the senate. I was also ecstatic to see Maxwell Alejandro Frost take the Florida 10th!”
Other students are more hesitant to celebrate. As Brenneman explained, “I am worried nonetheless…I was saddened to see Stacy Abrams did not win Georgia, and even more saddened—dismayed even—to see that Governor Ron DeSantis was re-elected in Florida. I guess there’s an ember of hope…everyone seems to be confronting the fact that the way things are now isn’t working for everyone.” He added, “And I’m sad that Marjorie Taylor Green was re-elected. If you haven’t seen her doing pull-ups, I highly recommend you watch it.”
From mentioned that the WSC encouraged its members to vote, but that the options on the ballot were not promising. “We’re still pretty suspicious of the Democrats overall, any support we have of them is reluctant,” they wrote in a text correspondence. “We hope they achieve good things for working people.”
Vassar prepared a polling site at the Aula for students to cast their ballots, if they were registered in Dutchess County. Shuttles to the polls were also available. Voting was further encouraged by Vassar Votes, an initiative that offers resources and information for students to participate in elections, including peer-to-peer support through volunteering Dorm Voting Advisors. Jean Hinkley, Assistant Director of the Office of Community-Engaged Learning and coordinator of Vassar Votes, described the initiative’s goals in an email correspondence: “Through outreach, we try to connect with students to inform them of upcoming elections and offer support in voting in person or absentee.” She expressed her own opinions about this election, writing, “From what I’ve researched, it appears that voters had a strong preference for candidates whose views were not aligned with election deniers. I look forward to supporting voters from Georgia as they prepare for the December 6th runoff election.”
Many students, like Madi Sandy ’25, voted by absentee ballot for their home state. She described the experience in a text: “Over October Break my mom and I went to our town hall to vote early. I was supposed to get my ballot in the mail, but it never came. Luckily, I was at home so I could still vote, but I know others that could not do so because of issues with mailing.” Sandy echoed many of the aforementioned concerns about the “red wave” and said she was especially worried about abortion rights, one of the major issues on the ballot this election season.
Feltovic highlighted the importance of this year’s midterm, which serves as an important turning point for the country. “This election was certainly critical for a number of issues, one of the most paramount being abortion; yet with prominent political players rising up on the Right, my concern is for the health and survivability of our democracy.
Many students like Feltovic are eager to see what the midterms mean for the 2024 Presidential Election. “I really think it is too early to make real predictions for 2024, but the disappointment Republicans are seeing this midterm election seems to be shifting the trends of the Republican Party. Although Trump’s shadow still looms over the next election, other Red party members, especially Ron DeSantis, are catching the eyes of the masses.”
Jared Richie ’23 agrees with the sentiments about the upcoming 2024 election. “I was very surprised. I think the democrats did considerably better than I thought they would considering Biden’s low approval rating and the normal midterm wave for the opposition party,” he said. “I’ve taken away that people are tired of Trump’s rhetoric and are more attracted to sane people. Trump has considerably less influence than I thought.”
Richie added, “Ron DeSantis was the clear winner of the night and it made me think that he has a much better chance in 2024. I think he could give Trump a real run for his money. I think it was also very good for Biden’s 2024 prospects which doesn’t make me too excited because I would have hoped for a more progressive Democratic candidate.”
If anything, the biggest takeaway of these midterm elections was that the United States remains divided. The Democratic win of the Senate and the projected Republican win of the House were marginal. It will be interesting to watch the ramifications of such results moving forward.
Additional Reporting by Nina Ajemian and Jacques Abou-Rizk.