Midterm Mayhem: Expert Panel Discusses Upcoming Election

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Anna Rose Redgate 
Contributing Writer

With every election comes the age-old excuses eligible voters give to defend why they do not turn up to the polls on the first Tuesday in November: unfavorable candidates, lack of value in a single vote, uneducated on the issues, etc. In an attempt to combat some of these common reasons to avoid the polls on Election Day, the Department of Communication, Department of Political Science, and Vote Everywhere sponsored “Midterm Mayhem: Making Sense of the 2018 Election,” an interactive panel discussion covering the potential outcomes and consequences of the 2018 midterm election, in the Science Center on Tuesday.

The bipartisan panel included former Dayton Mayor Paul Leonard (D), Scott Milburn, the deputy chief of staff to Ohio Governor John Kasich (R), Katie Egan, executive director at Ohio Vision Professionals Board and former member of the Ohio House of Representatives Mike Curtin (D).

The discussion opened with statements from the panelists about the political climate and how it could influence the midterm election.

“This election is a referendum on Trump and his policies,” Leonard said. “Trump is on the ballot without actually being on the ballot.”

All panelists agreed the midterm election would reflect how the country has felt since the 2016 election.

When asked if and how recent tragedies in the country will affect the turnout and results, Curtin explained many current events don’t tend to sway voters on Election Day.

“The recency effect leads people to remember the most recent uproar or tragedy, but usually won’t change a lot on their ballot. The media moves from one tragedy to the next so quickly that focus shifts, and people forget why they were angry,” Curtin said.

All four panelists agreed a Democrat victory in the U.S. House of Representatives is likely.

“Democrats are united in an anti-Trump movement,” Milburn said. “Experts have predicted Republicans have 72 House seats at risk of being lost. Statistically, it’s very likely the Democrats will be successful in taking hold of the House of Representatives.”

Eagan argued that Republicans have not taken advantage of holding power in the House.

“Republicans should have been making more ground with the majority advantage,” she said.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, the panelists had differing opinions on where they would like elected officials to focus their efforts. Curtin said the newest elected officials need to focus on economic challenges.

“The next Congress is likely to inherit the next economic recession. Whoever is elected needs to understand this and be equipped,” Curtin said.

Leonard wants elected Ohio leaders to focus their efforts on education throughout the state.

“We need to start investing more in not only K-12 education, but also developmental years, from zero to five. There is so much evidence now that emphasizes how critical those early years are in the future success of a child,” Leonard said.

At the end of the event, the panelists agreed this midterm election is a time to build bridges among division.

“It’s time to build bridges amongst parties,” Eagan said. “It’s so easy to become so bogged down in the negative politics of it all, but now is the time to come together.”

Panelists also discussed the importance of extending attention to candidates running for local office.

“Politics happen at local elections,” Milburn said. “There are genuine people in politics, especially those running for positions trying to better their community.”

Enthusiasm for voting has been ranked at its highest level in any midterm election in the past 20 years. All panelists encouraged students to get out and vote.

Students choosing to vote using their UD address can do so at Goodwill Easter Seals (660 S. Main Street).

Rides to the polls sponsored by Vote Eveywhere will be available at 9:00 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Pickup and drop-off location is in front of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Any questions can be directed to voteeverywhere@udayton.edu.