Midterm elections weeks away, youth leaning left

Written By Mick Stinelli, Co-News Editor

Young voters have a history of poor turnout in midterm elections.

People aged 20-35 added up to 62 million eligible voters in 2016, but only 51 percent of them showed up to the presidential election, according to Edison Research for the National Election Pool. If these midterms follow the same pattern as past elections, young voters will make up a fraction of the voting population; Edison Research reported voters 18 to 29 years-old made up 14 percent of voters in the 2014 election.

But for many young voters, it’s an important election. According to a 2017 report by the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of millennials (aged 18 to 35) lean Democrat. All three branches of the U.S. government currently lean Conservative, often putting policy at odds with what young
people want.

Here are the basics of what Point Park students can expect in the 2018

Incumbent Governor Tom Wolf faces off against Scott Wagner

Republican candidate Scott Wagner entered politics as the first write-in candidate to ever win a state senate election. As senator, he’s voted in favor of restricting access to abortion and providing body cameras to police officers. Prior to politics, Wagner ran a multi-million waste disposal company.

Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has served as state governor since 2015. He’s signed bills for legalizing medical marijuana and vetoed a bill that limited access to abortion. His administration initiated the “It’s On Us PA” campaign to combat sexual violence on college campuses.

Wolf’s website touts his transparency after making his schedule available to the public. However, Wolf has received criticism from opponents by only agreeing to one debate this year. Wagner, on the other hand, has been criticized for refusing to release his tax returns.

President Donald Trump endorsed Wagner, calling him “tough” and “smart.”

Lou Barletta challenges Bob Casey for U.S. Senate

Republican Lou Barletta has served as the representative for Pennsylvania’s eleventh district since 2011. He voted “Yea” to the Republicans’ tax reform bill and the attempt at repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). He said he supported President Trump’s banning of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. President Trump endorsed Barletta, writing on Twitter that Barletta “is strong & smart, loves Pennsylvania & loves our Country!”

Democrat Bob Casey has been senator since 2007.  He voted in favor of Obamacare and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act, which allowed members of the military to openly identify as gay. He has said that he’s a pro-life candidate, telling POLITICO he wants to “focus on ways to reduce both the number of abortions and the number of unwanted pregnancies.”

Polls by Franklin and Marshall College, Muhlenberg College and Ipsos have Casey up by double-digits. A win by Barletta would mean both Pennsylvania senators in Congress would be Republican, with Senator Pat Toomey up for election in 2020. Republicans are hoping to hold onto their senate majority this year, and taking even one Democratic seat would be a big win for Conservatives.

What issues draw students’ attention in 2018?

Ian Brady, who works with the non-partisan progressive group NextGen, said he went door-to-door in Lawrence Hall trying to sign people up to vote. Brady said he believes this is going to be a massive election for young people because of the potential for Democrats to take the House majority from the Republicans.

Tommy Bo Hansana, a senior musical theater major, said he would enter the midterm elections thinking about Christine Blasey Ford. Ford testified to Congress that now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her when they were in high school.

“There are people in positions of power who don’t deserve it,” Hansana said while reflecting on the senate’s decision to confirm Kavanaugh.

Hansana said he hopes “someone good wins for once,” adding that he would like to see more women and people of color in power too.

“I’m tired of seeing the same rich, old, white men getting power instead of people who worked their way up from the top,” Hansana said.

Robert Clores, a senior dance major, said he was hoping there was a possibility of flipping Congress towards the Democrats.

He said he wants people this year to enter the voting booth thinking about other people.

“Just because something isn’t a problem for you doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem for someone else,” Clores said.