Opinion: Democrats Had The Best Midterm in Decades…Thanks to Generation Z

Nov. 8 midterm elections were predicted to be a “red wave” of Republicans taking the House and Senate. Instead, we saw more of a trickle due to a record turnout in several key states from youths under 30.

Opinion by Ky Duffey

The U.S. midterm elections occur every two years and are often seen as a referendum of the current President’s performance. And for the past 80 years, Americans have sent a clear message that the President’s performance has sucked at the point of midterms. 

Since 1934, every President except two have lost members of their own party in the House and/or Senate. Only two Presidents have defeated the odds by retaining or gaining seats in both chambers: Presidents George W. Bush and now Joe Biden. 

During the 2002 midterm elections, President Bush received a bi-partisan rally behind him in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. His response to the attacks conjoined with one of the few times in history when we became a united nation bringing both political parties together to not only help him gain seats in the House and Senate, but also overwhelmingly get re-elected two years later.

Here we are now, 20 years later, at the country’s most critical midterm election in recent years. But this time, there is no national event rallying the country behind the President. As a matter of fact, in the week prior to Election Day, Biden’s approval rating was 42%. Even Trump had a 45% approval rating during his midterm at which he lost 40 House seats.

Instead of a terrorist attack, all eyes were on inflation and rising prices this year. That was, until June 24 of this year, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortion was not a constitutional right during the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization proceedings. The overturn of abortion rights allowed several states to initiate near or total bans on abortion, resulting in outcries from a majority of Americans – over 60%, in fact, who didn’t support the bans.

While abortion was able to propel Democrats ahead in the polls, most Americans had inflation and new talks of crime by Republicans on their mind. It showed in the polls and by election experts that Democrats had a 13% chance of retaining the Senate and an 8% chance of retaining the House. Things started to look grim for Democrats as election night drew near with some Republicans already setting up speeches and stage decorations to announce the new Republican majority in Congress.

Then election night sent a shockwave throughout the country.

A sudden record breaking turnout of a certain demographic of early voters rapidly swung the pendulum in the Democrats favor: young voters.

Yes, people under 25 or Generation Z (GenZ) were the loudest voices in the midterms, placing over a million more votes than other groups and surpassing their turnout record in any previous midterm as well as the 2020 presidential elections. According to dozens of political pundits, GenZ, who normally votes in favor of Democrats, placed more interest in the 2022 midterm election than any prior election. 

Due to those turnouts in key states, Democrats were able to defy the odds and not only retain a majority in the Senate, but retain and pick up more seats in the House, narrowing the gap of their minority in the House by just seven votes as of today – a far cry from the 45 or more seat net loss that was predicted just a day before. 

In the end, Democrats did manage to lose their majority in the House, but overall, they won the midterms. And they have young voters to thank for this unique achievement.

But why this midterm? Some experts believe abortion rights was a bigger issue among young voters than inflation and high gas prices. Teenage women are more likely to have late abortions than adults, and abortion limits have much more of an impact on a young person than an adult. 

Other experts point to the looming shadow of Donald Trump and his influence on the current Republican Party. Trump left quite a stain on voters, especially young voters, as they turned out in record numbers to oust the former president in 2020. 

With that being said, has the power dynamics shifted in terms of voter demographics? Will more polls pursue GenZ answers? Will this surge of growing young voters be a continuing trend, or simply a one time rebuttal of certain policies and candidates?

As Republicans scramble with how to approach voters and rebrand themselves before 2024, I recommend Democrat leadership listen to the youth and their needs – they may be the lifeline of the Democrat Party for the foreseeable future.

ACC’s Student Government Association and How You Can Get Involved

Story by Gloria Nguyen

Graphics by Kate Korepova

Edited by Pete Ramirez

The Student Government Association (SGA) is a student organization comprised of members who have been duly elected from the student body of Austin Community College District.

According to SGA’s constitution, their goals are to facilitate understanding of democracy in our college, promote involvement among all members of the college community, and most importantly, to make the interests of the student body heard in our college in academic, institutional and campus affairs.

“A strong, enthusiastic and well-trained SGA, is for the betterment of all ACC students”

Mohammed Elghoul, advisor for ACC’s Student Government Association

In order to fulfill their goals and ensure they are listening to students, SGA recruits students from all 11 campuses and from all aspects of life. 

Mohammed Elghoul, SGA’s advisor, says this approach improves the lives of the student body. “When ACC students have quicker access to an SGA member at their grade reviews or a more immediate place to express their concerns, student lives are better,” Elghoul said.  

A group of students stand out side and smile for a picture in front of a tall clock tower.
Members of Austin Community College’s Student Government Association stand for a picture with their advisor, Muhammed Elghoul, during the recent Conference on Student Government Associations. Photo provided by Muhammed Elghoul

In line with their approach to being an advocate for the student body, SGA is currently focused on a district-wide information-gathering campaign collecting feedback to better understand the needs and state of housing for ACC students. Their short survey has been shared by the school via email and can also be found here.

SGA tries its best to represent ACC students but COVID-19 has made it challenging to find opportunities to connect directly with the student body. 

“One of which, which is a bit challenging now because of the COVID, is to have fellow students come to a selected location and talk to them,” Elghoul said. “That way we can figure out what is important for fellow students.”

One off-campus activity that took a pause due to the challenges of the pandemic was the annual toy drive that is coordinated by SGA with the help of the honors society, Phi Theta Kappa. This event, which serves underprivileged youth in Travis County, is one of the student organization’s largest events of the year.

“We collect toys from boxes on most campuses,” Elghoul said. “Students bring the toys to the sheriff’s office. They have a list of families in need and want toys for the holiday and do an annual donation drive.”

The current president of ACC’s SGA, Isaiah Smith, is working with his team to develop more ideas for events and activities where students can connect with SGA members.

An young African-American man dressed in a suit and bowtie smiles for a photo with an American flag in the background of one side of the frame.
Austin Community College’s Student Government Association President Isaiah Smith. Smith and the SGA strive to advocate for all ACC students. Photo provided by Isaiah Smith

“We’re trying to get other departments at ACC involved in SGA activities,” Smith, said. “SGA is supposed to be representing our school as a whole, not just SGA members.”

Smith is leveraging his position within SGA and his expanding network of connections to improve the lives of all ACC students.

“I’m in the process of building a massive communication channel,” Smith said. “If any of our students have any issues, maybe with safety, we can easily get in touch with the ACC Police Department.”

Apply now to be a member during SGA’s 2022-2023 academic year.

As a member of SGA, students have opportunities to travel and meet other student leaders at other colleges, be invited to local exclusive events and represent their fellow students. 

The application period has started and will end on April 13. 

Find the application here.

Elections run from April 15 to April 25. 

There are many positions that can be filled by students and they are all up for election. A full list of positions can be found here.

Only prior SGA members can run for executive board positions. Senate positions are open to all.

All applicants are required to be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.

“We used to [hold the election] over the course of 7 days, so by 10 days, people will have more time to prepare and encourage people to vote for them,” Elghoul said. 

As the student leader of SGA, Smith points out some characteristics that members of SGA should cultivate. 

Smith said members should be assertive, flexible and caring. 

For future members of the organization, Smith’s advice is simple: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” 

A group of students stand inside and smile for a picture next to large letters lit up in lights that spell "COSGA."
Members of Austin Community College’s Student Government Association stand for a picture during a recent Conference on Student Government Associations. Photo provided by Muhammed Elghoul

Elghoul is committed to continuing to guide the SGA to better understand and serve the ACC student body. 

“If you want to represent the students, you have to know the students,” Elghoul said.

For more information about SGA, check out their website and follow them on Twitter and Instagram. If you have any questions about SGA, you can reach out to Elghoul at [email protected]

Election Day Updates

At this time Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has 227 votes and President Donald J. Trump has 213 votes. Both candidates need at least 270 votes to win. We are still waiting to see the results from the following states:

By Marissa Greene

10:22 a.m. CDT — At this time Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has 227 votes and President Donald J. Trump has 213 votes. Both candidates need at least 270 votes to win. We are still waiting to see the results from the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Mail-in ballots and absentee ballots may affect the results of these states and the overall election results. 

Election results by county: 

In Travis County, Joseph R. Biden Jr. received 432, 062 votes. Donald. J. Trump received 159,907 votes, according to the New York Times. 

In Williamson County, Joseph R. Biden Jr. received 142, 457 votes. Donald. J. Trump received 138,649 votes, according to the New York Times. 

In Hays County, Joseph R. Biden Jr. received 59,213 votes. Donald. J. Trump received 47,427 votes, according to the New York Times. 

In Bastrop County,  Donald. J. Trump received 20, 486 votes. Joseph R. Biden Jr. received 15,452 votes, according to the New York Times. 

2:14 a.m. CDT — Tony Gonzales, Republican, wins Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. 

02:06 a.m. CDT — Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Maine.

1:12 a.m. CDT — José Garza has become the next Travis County District Attorney.  

1:03 a.m. CDT — Republican Chip Roy wins re-election in Texas’ 21st Congressional District against Democratic former state Sen. Wendy Davis. 

12:30 a.m. CDT — Venessa Fuentes has been elected to serve in the Austin City Council District 2. 

12:20 a.m. CDT — Donald J. Trump wins Texas. 

12:02 a.m. CDT — Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Minnesota.

11:38 p.m. CDT — Donald J. Trump wins Florida.

11:25 p.m. CDT — Donald J. Trump wins Iowa.

11:22 p.m. CDT — Donald J. Trump wins Montana. 

11:16 p.m. CDT — Trya Nehls, Republican, wins Texas’ 22nd Congressional District.  

11:07 p.m. CDT — Donald J. Trump wins Ohio 

11:07 p.m. CDT — Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Hawaii. 

11 p.m. CDT — Incumbent Leslie Pool claims victory in Austin City Council race for District 7. 

10:09 p.m. CDT —  Donald J. Trump wins Utah.

10:06 p.m. CDT — Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins New Hampshire.

10: 05 p.m. CDT — According to Travis County elections coordinator Christopher Baldenhofter, Travis county had 50,558 votes on Election Day. 

10:01 p.m. CDT — Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Washington State. 

10:01 p.m. CDT — Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Oregon. 

10:01 p.m. CDT — Donald J. Trump wins Idaho. 

10:01 p.m. CDT — Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins California. 

9:50 p.m. Republican incumbent U.S. Representative John Carter wins Texas’ 31st Congressional District. 

9:33 p.m. CDT — Donald J. Trump wins Missouri. 

9:12 p.m. CDT — The City of Austin claims victory over Proposition A, also known as Project Connect. 

9:07 p.m. CDT — John Cornyn, Republican, wins re-election to the U.S. Senate in Texas with 4,709,257 votes. 

9:01 p.m. CDT — Donald J. Trump wins Kansas.

8:44 p.m. CDT — Greg Caesar has claimed victory for re-election as District 4’s Austin City Council member.

8:38 p.m. CDT — Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Colorado. 

8:27 p.m. CDT—   Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins the District of Columbia.

8:25 p.m. CDT — Republican Micheal Cloud will be keeping his seat in the U.S House of Representatives for District 27. 

8:10 p.m. CDT — Democrat Lloyd Doggett will be serving another term as a member of the U.S House of Representatives in Texas’ 35th Congressional District. 

8:01 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins Nebraska.

8 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins Wyoming.

8 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins South Dakota. 

8 p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins New York. 

8 p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins New Mexico. 

8 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins North Dakota. 

8 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins Louisiana. 

7:53 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins Indiana.

7:31 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins Arkansas. 

7:25 p.m. CDT — Prop. A and Prob. B favorable votes are showing high numbers with 58 percent and 67 percent of votes, according to KVUE. In an interview with KVUE and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Adler stated that “It would be near impossible for the vote to flip at this point. I am so incredibly excited and proud to be part of a community that so strongly tonight said that it wanted to walk into our future,”. 

7:01  p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Rode Island.

7:01  p.m. CDT — Donald J. Trump wins Oklahoma.

7:01  p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins  New Jersey. 

7:01  p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins  Massachusetts.

7:01  p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Maryland.

7 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump  wins Tennessee.

7 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins Mississippi.

7 p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins  Illinois. 

7 p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Connecticut. 

7 p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Delaware.

7 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins Alabama. 

7 p.m. CDT — Election Day polls have now closed. 

6:57 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins South Carolina. 

6:37 p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Virginia. 

6:30 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins West Virginia. 

6:01 p.m. CDT—  Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins Vermont. 

6 p.m. CDT—  Donald J. Trump wins Kentucky. 

What Riverbats Need to Know About the 2020 Election

By Marissa Greene

During this time of year not only will you see Halloween decorations, pumpkin carvings, and perhaps the Sunday football game; but also lines of people outside of polling locations six feet apart, with a face mask, and a ballot card. This election year, registered voters across the country are picking candidates they wish to represent the United States and the citizens within it.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin-Travis County has already surpassed the 477,588 votes cast early and on election day for the 2016 election. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvior said. 

As of Thursday 521,002, Austin voters have already cast their ballot. This is more than half of the percentage of registered voters in the county. That number is continuing to rise as we get closer to Election Day. 

“It gives citizens a voice to elect people who represent their values and their goals for their community,” Alicia Del Rio, Elections and Government Relations Manager of Austin Community College said.

In light of the recent presidential debates and the candidate’s websites, U.S. citizens have been able to view President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden’s stances on topics such as COVID-19, affordable healthcare, immigration, climate change, racial injustice, and much more.

With only a few days remaining for eligible voters to head to the polls or vote by mail, it is important for both new and returning voters to know how this election might be different to protect the health and safety of citizens. 

Those who are 65 years or older, sick or disabled, will be absent from the county during early voting and Election Day, are confined in jail, but otherwise eligible to vote can submit a mail-in ballot and avoid large crowds. For voters who don’t qualify for mail-in ballots, polling locations have gotten creative this year to follow social distancing protocols.

  “In Harris County, they are doing drive-in voting so you can vote in your vehicle and more people are taking advantage of curbside voting…the main thing is that we got to keep our people safe,” Del Rio said.

In addition to these preventative measures, both Williamson and Travis counties are utilizing a new voting system called an ExpressVote Ballot Marketing Device (BMD) that has touchscreen technology that allows voters to verify their selections before it prints out the paper ballot. People are also able to use websites that show how busy each polling station is and their wait times. 

Although the U.S Presidential election may be the most talked-about, citizens are also voting for the U.S. Senator, House of Representatives, Texas Supreme Court, State Senators, State Representatives, and other figures that affect our local government. 

Federal elections occur every two years and every member of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are up for reelection in any given election year, according to whitehouse.gov.

During local elections, Austin citizens are able to vote for propositions, city council members, and even representatives for their school districts. 

“To me, the local politicians, local elections, the council members, county officials, and independent school districts, touch our lives more than the federal [government],” Del Rio said. 

For those who have yet to vote, Del Rio mentions utilizing non-partisan sources to avoid misinformation and understand ones right before heading to the polling stations. 

“Look at it with a grain of salt. If it’s pretty far-fetched you might do further research,” Del Rio said. 

For more information about this year’s candidates, voters’ rights, and more, resources are listed below.