Cheers erupted from Democratic students in the Healey Family Student Center as CNN projected that Democrats would win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives after hours filled with doubt that the promised blue wave would arrive.
Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service co-hosted a watch party for the 2018 midterm elections with Georgetown University College Democrats and Georgetown University College Republicans in the HFSC on Tuesday night.
There was a strong consensus among pollsters before the polls closed Tuesday — including Quinnipiac University, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times in collaboration with Siena College — that Democrats would gain the 23 seats necessary to take control of the House. Going into Election Day, Republicans held 51 Senate and 241 House seats, and Democrats held 49 Senate and 194 House seats.
After official forecasts came in at 11 p.m. announcing the Democrats’ victory in the House, GUCD Chair Maria Cornell (SFS ’20) said she was excited Democrats prevailed in the face of reported efforts to create structural barriers to voting.
“It’s incredible to see with such rampant voter suppression and just the extent of control that the GOP has had over local and state governments and how they’ve been able to write election laws and gerrymander districts,” Cornell said. “To see us taking so many seats under those conditions and being so close to many other districts that you wouldn’t have even thought of — that’s beyond anything I would have expected for sure.”
Cornell said she was particularly excited about the number of women who won election Tuesday night. At the time of publication, 115 women have won their respective races, 42 of whom are women of color.
“Representation matters,” Cornell said. “It’s not everything, but it matters so much, and being able to change the demographics of the United States Congress is really historic and meaningful.”
Joseph Gomez (SFS ’19), resident director of La Casa Latina, said he was pleased with tonight’s results, despite multiple disappointing outcomes for Democratic hopefuls, including Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-Texas) narrow loss to incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“While I’m disappointed about the way the senate race in Texas turned out and the way Florida turned out in general, Democrats have flipped some key house seats which, although expected, is still nice to see,” Gomez wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Several Republican incumbents lost their seats in competitive House elections Tuesday night; however, reactions from conservatives varied, with some acknowledging that this outcome, though undesirable, did not come as a surprise.
GUCR President Jake Lyons (COL ’20) said that he hopes Democrats will use their newfound power in the House responsibly.
“Honestly this has been my expectation, the numbers and states were always in republicans’ favor and I’m very happy we retained control of the senate,” Lyons wrote in a message to The Hoya. “I would hope that the house will hopefully work in the next Congress to form bipartisan, principled compromises that advance the best interest of the American people with the administration – and I fully expect that they do so.”
Other conservative students hoped that a Democrat-controlled House would encourage more cooperation or, at the very least, limit the authority of President Donald Trump.
Donning apparel displaying the GOP’s emblematic elephant, Michael Lundgren (SFS ’22), who had volunteered for Republican Knute Buehler’s campaign for governor of Oregon, said he wanted Republicans to lose the House.
“I’m not a Trump supporter, so I was hoping Democrats would take the House to provide an extra check on the President’s power,” Lundgren said in an interview with The Hoya. “But I was hoping Republicans would hold the Senate.”
AJ Williamson (COL ’21), vice president of Georgetown’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the crowd’s spirits faded in the face of initially discouraging results for Democrats, but that he was relieved Democrats gained momentum as the night progressed.
“The path to get there was a little wonky, but in the end we’re actually pretty much where we expected to be at the start of the night,” Williamson wrote in a message to The Hoya.
Despite strong predictions that Democrats would flip the 23 seats needed to win a majority in the House, hopes of Democratic victories began to diminish as early results from the polls came in around 9 p.m.
Alec Camhi (COL ’20), host of the GU Politics podcast “Fly on the Wall,” though concerned about the Democrats’ performance, said at the time that he still believed that the Democrats would manage to win control of the House.
“It doesn’t look like quite as good of a night for Democrats as I had hoped, but we might still take the House,” Camhi said. “I still think at this point we have a chance there.”
Morale returned to initial levels once results indicated that Democratic hopes of taking the House were not lost, Cornell said.
H*yas For Choice President Angela Maske (NHS ’19), watching from a watch party hosted by HFC, cautioned against only considering the Democratic victory in the House on Tuesday night when determining the party’s success in the midterms.
“It’s important to also realize that a lot of where the key battles on reproductive health care and reproductive justice take place is at the state level, and so we can’t ignore the governors races at all in this, so that’s something we’ll be watching for as well,” Maske said.
Hoya staff writers Mason Mandell, Sana Rahman, Yolanda Spura and Connor Thomas contributed reporting