I hope y’all have had a nice 2 weeks. I’m really excited because Thanksgiving is coming up!! It’s probably my favorite holiday due to all the good food and being with my family. We can’t do as much as we normally would, but it will still be nice. And this has been a crazy time for my study!! Following the election, I took some time to process what had happened. There had been SO many pivotal races both up and down the ballot, so I needed to be able to get through everything. As I mentioned last week, this was a great election for young voter engagement, but it was a disheartening election for progressives… Democrats lost many House seats and did not achieve a senate majority (that we know of yet), but won the Presidency. However, the Presidency is really the bare minimum considering how inept the competition is. So, it’s important to use this outcome to keep working harder and smarter to improve peoples’ lives. Let’s dissect it all and talk about some next steps!!
Let’s start at the top. Biden winning is a great move in the right direction for Democrats, and where he won was exciting. GA flipped blue for a President for the 1st time since 1992, which is pretty exciting. This is promising considering how they have 2 senate run-offs coming up in Jan… Many attribute GA’s flip to the strong turnout of black voters and the turnout work of former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Arizona was also an exciting flip. Some attribute this outcome to Trump’s gross comments about long-time Republican AZ Senator John McCain, who was sick with brain cancer at the time. His wife publicly endorsed Joe and is currently serving on his transition team. However, there’s also a strong hold of Latinx voters there that showed up in large numbers. As for young voters, there was an exciting bump in engagement. Tufts projects that after all votes are counted, young voter engagement in the presidential election will be at 53-56%, up a good amount from 45-48% in 2016. Their work paid off too, as Tufts reports young voters preferred Biden 61% compared to Trump at 36%.
Senate and House races were much less encouraging. Democrats such as Mark Kelly were able to snag Senate seats in more Republican places such as AZ, while Democrats in more conservative places lost big (such as Doug Jones in AL and Cal Cunningham here in NC). For the time being, Senate positions are split 50/50 Democrats and Republicans because there are 2 senate runoffs in GA!! 1 is a special election for a 2-year position, and the other is a 6-year re-election bid for current Republican Senator David Perdue. The Democratic candidates fighting for spots here are Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock. Their run-off races will be tough–they have been behind their Republican opponents consistently in GA, and the party that lost the presidency is known to win Jan run-offs because their supporters get fired up. However, there’s been a nationwide surge of support for these candidates, and I’m debating whether to get involved myself. As for House seats, Democrats lost a discouraging amount of them. We still have the House majority, but that type of negative trajectory is never good. Speaker Pelosi was also just nominated for another term as Speaker, so that’s exciting. Local NC elections were also discouraging (I’ll dive into this more later). Overall, it was a pretty tough election to swallow excluding Biden’s win. So, it’s important that we keep fighting to forge an equitable America because the fight is FAR from over.
As for my study, the election was a turning point in my focus. I’m no longer going to be volunteering, and I’ll be focusing on working towards my final project. I do still have exciting interviews with progressive NC State Senate Natalie Murdock (!!) and FLIP NC organizer Brianna Brough to look forward to. Otherwise, it is time to start moving forward. With my final project, I’m planning on having several products to show. 1) I want to make a triangle youth activism guide!! Doing volunteering in this election, I learned all of the ways that you can get involved. And, the way you should get involved really relies on the type of person you are. So, I’m planning on coming up with a guide to help people find the organizations and opportunities that excite them!! Questions for finding the right fit include “what issues interest you most?” and “where in the triangle do you want to get involved?” 2) I’m going to do a final culminating paper about my study and what I learned, as expected. 3) I’m going to try to publish some op-eds to both the DA Green and White (our newspaper) and maybe some local ones!! The goal would be to reflect on this past election from a young person deeply passionate about activism. I’m going to do my best to get traction!!
Stay tuned because there’s still A LOT in store coming up!!