New College professor and political analyst Frank Alcock delivered a fact-filled, assessment of the recent midterm election to a capacity crowd at the monthly Hot Topic luncheon November 26.
A Big Turnout. “The highest level seen in my lifetime,” he said, “and more of everybody turned out.” About 47 percent voted in the midterm, compared to 37 percent in 2014.
Increased Polarization. “95 percent of Republicans voted for Republicans, and 95 percent of Democrats voted for Democrats ,” he noted, and this continued right down the
ballot. Even among independent voters, now 20 percent of Florida’s electorate, Dr. Alcock identified “a remarkable degree” of straight- ticket voting.
A Fairly Sizeable Blue Wave. Democrats gained at least 37 (later
40) seats in the U.S. House, elected 400 state legislators and six governors, but lost two seats in the
U.S. Senate. Democrats gained generally in the cities, suburbs and
among college-educated white women, but Republicans held their own in more rural areas, Dr. Alcock reported.
Young Voters: Most Important Shift. He reported that about 50 percent of young people voted for Hilary Clinton, but 60 percent voted Democratic in this election.
Older Voters: Most Consistency. “The Trump base of older white voters came out strongly,” he said. Voters 50 and older make up about 60 percent of all voters nation- wide. CNN reported 75 percent of older voters voted Republican.
Alcock’s Take: “You saw a shift in younger people; they opted for Democrats. But this was offset by older, white conservative voters” who backed Republicans.
Florida Trends. Dr. Alcock predicted “no major differences” in state governance, since Republicans continue to control both legislative arms and the Governorship.
Effects of Felon Rights Amendment. Registration of eligible freed felons “does not happen automatically,” he noted. “These voters will have to be found and mobilized,” probably by public service groups. And no process exists right now to do that, Dr. Alcock pointed out. There could be 1.5 million eligible felons in Florida. “Considering that race after recent race has been decided by 100,000 votes or less, it could be an important factor” in the future, he suggested. (This amendment was a LWV initiative in 2018.)