Election party draws high turnout

Students and faculty observe live results of the midterm election at a viewing event hosted by the USC Center for the Political Future. (Krystal Gallegos | Daily Trojan)

Wallis Annenberg Hall echoed with cheers and applause from students and faculty as the CNN broadcast announced projections and updated polling numbers Tuesday evening.

Attendees at the Party @ the Polls: Election Night viewing event watched as control of the Senate and the House of Representatives swung between the Democratic and Republican parties. Republicans maintained hold of the Senate, while Democrats gained control of the House.

In Texas, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz kept his seat, defeating Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke. GOP candidate Rick Scott edged out Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in a tight race in Florida.

Democrats gained 26 House seats at the time of publication, including two key Florida districts previously occupied by Republicans.

“I don’t think a lot of people were expecting in the Senate,” USC College Democrats political director Ben Pearce said. “[The House win] gives us a chance to actually enact progressive legislation [and] bring it to the floor that we didn’t have for the last two years.”

USC Center for the Political Future Director Bob Shrum, who co-hosted the event, said he was surprised by the results in Florida.

“I was not surprised that the Democrats took the House, and I’m not surprised by the 10 percent margin in the generic vote for the House because that’s what our USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll predicted,” he said.

College Republicans at USC Treasurer Sahil Nandwani said that he was satisfied with the overall election turnout but was slightly disappointed with a few results.

“Nationally, I’m really happy with what’s going on,” Nandwani said. “The headwinds of history are against us, but Republicans are winning a lot of uphill battles. [California races were] still a nailbiter. We are very disappointed to see Proposition 6 fail.”

California Proposition 6 advocated for a repeal of the statewide gas tax, which pays for road and infrastructure repairs.  At time of publication, the proposition was rejected.

The proposition had the support of many Republicans, including California gubernatorial candidate John Cox, who lost the election to Democrat Gavin Newsom. Dianne Feinstein kept her Senate seat.

California residents voted against Proposition 10, which would repeal the limits on municipal rent control, though the proposition garnered much support from housing advocates in Los Angeles.

Some congressional elections in Southern California districts were not finalized at time of publication. Districts 48 and 49 were projected to turn blue, with 91 and 44 percent of precincts reported, respectively.

Pearce said that with more Democrats in the House, he expects the Trump administration to be held to more accountability.

“I think we’re going to see a House of Representatives that’s going to start governing the way that the people want it to,” Pearce said. “It’s less of a partisan thing. … Now that the Democrats control the House, there’s going to be a lot more accountability.”

This year’s midterm elections were historic for underrepresented communities in politics. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan is one of two Muslim women in Congress this year, while Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is the youngest woman to be elected at 29. Colorado also made history by electing Jared Polis, the first openly gay man, as governor.

By time of publication, more than 100 women were projected to win seats in the House, compared to a previous record of 84 seats.

“It has just been old white guys for so long … so it is nice to see more representation that is representing more of the population,” said Sophie Roppe, a freshman majoring in communication.

Leah Ghavami, a junior majoring in communication, said election results can be attributed to an increase in voter turnout.

“This election had more of an emphasis on voting, which was largely made via social media platforms to encourage youth to have a voice,” Ghavami said.