College of William and Mary students joined Williamsburg residents and citizens across the nation at the voting polls for the midterm elections Tuesday.
Nationally, the Democratic face of the House of Representatives changed after what President Barack Obama called a “shellacking.”
The 2010 midterm elections tallied votes for all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 37 seats in the U.S. Senate and an additional number of state and local candidates. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), whose district includes the City of Williamsburg, was re-elected to the House of Representatives with 64 percent of the vote.
According to the unofficial voter results of the Virginia State Board of Elections, 40 percent of first district voters turned out for the election. A total of 1,908 votes were cast from the Williamsburg City precinct.
“It’s not like the 2008 election where people lapped around the building, but people have been coming in nonstop the whole day,” Mary Cottrill ’77, Democratic Committee volunteer, said.
Three referenda appeared on Virginia’s ballot, dealing with granting greater independence to localities to determine property tax refunds for veterans, real estate tax exemption for persons 65 and older or for the disabled, and increasing the size of the Virginia Revenue Stabilization Fund. Each passed.
Democratic congressional candidate Krystal Ball received 34.7 percent of the vote in the first district, while just over 1 percent of the vote went to the Independent Green party candidate Gail Parker.
“At first, I didn’t realize how many issues were at stake with this election and how much risk it is by not voting,” Aidan DeSena ’13 said. “But overall, I feel like William and Mary students are aware and care about the issues.”
Student opinions of election results were largely divided along party lines.
“We are very excited about the results of last night and are glad to see that our hard work paid off,” Chairman of the William and Mary College Republicans Will Clements ’11 said in an e-mail. “[Before the election], I felt very confident that the voters would make the right decision, and the reaction to the past two years has been shown overwhelmingly.”
Young Democrats President Katie Deabler ’12 said that the poor showing for Democrats in the elections was not unexpected.
“Obviously, we would have preferred that the results be more in our favor, but we’re also well aware that this was a tough year for Democrats in general,” she said in an e-mail.
In Virginia, Republicans gained three House seats with the election of Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell and Morgan Griffith over incumbent Democrats. While all five incumbent Virginia Republican congressmen retained their seats, the G.O.P. gained 60 House seats nationally.
Many members of the Republican Party considered the 2010 elections critical to the party’s agenda. As of press time, the Republicans now hold 239 seats in the House and 46 seats in the Senate. Rep. John Boehner (R-Oh.) will likely become the 60th Speaker of the House, succeeding Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“Steady” was the word consistently used by poll workers, students and campaigners to describe voter turnout.
“There have been lots of students; it has been pretty steady,” Justin Keaney ’11 said.
Kearney and Tom Anesta ’12 collected exit-polling data for professor Ron Rapoport’s Political Polling and Analysis class.
President Barack Obama has called for compromise between the administration and the Republican House, even though many Republicans, including Boehner, have called for a repeal of Obama’s health care legislation. Boehner has also been identified as a leader in the recent veto strategy against Obama’s legislative agenda. In a speech Wednesday night, Boehner outlined objectives to cut spending, lower taxes and create jobs.
Boehner’s standpoint reflects the voting trend of the midterm election — rallying against recent legislation, but not for any specific agenda. The growing Tea Party movement has been attributed in part to a conservative resurgence seen nationally, especially with Republican candidate Rand Paul’s win in the Kentucky Senate race.