National Beat Reporter
Voters across the United States took to the polls in a midterm election that has been met with a great deal of voter apathy, along with heated (and expensive) campaigning. A recent Washington Post article revealed that the total amount of money spent on the 2014 midterm elections surpassed $4 billion, more than any midterm elections in the country’s history. Election night came with many gains for Republicans in the US Senate, House of Representatives, and in gubernatorial races across the country. Voters in several states approved historic ballot initiatives on issues ranging from minimum wage increases, to gun control legislation, to marijuana legalization, among other issues.
Republicans have gained a majority in the United States Senate, gaining seven senate seats with a few races still too close to call. Republicans also added to their majority in the House of Representatives after winning over several Democratic seats, gaining a stronger hold on their already sizable control in the House.
In Kentucky, Republican Senate Minority Leader, soon to be Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell defeated Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in what proved to be one of the most high profile senate races of the midterms. McConnell earned 56.2% of the vote, beating Lundergan Grimes who earned 40.7%.
New Hampshire’s Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen narrowly prevailed over Republican challenger, and former US Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown. After having served as New Hampshire’s Governor from 1997 to 2003, and after being voted to the US Senate in 2008, Shaheen found her Tuesday battle for reelection to be one of her most challenging campaigns. With 88% of precincts reporting, Shaheen had 51.6% of the vote while Brown earned 48.4%.
North Carolina saw an even closer senate race, but with Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan losing to Republican challenger Thom Tillis. Tillis gained the seat for Republicans with 48.97% of the vote, beating Hagan’s 47.29%.
Virginia and Alaska’s senate races are still too close to call.
Louisiana’s Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu will be heading to a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy. Landrieu gained 42.1% of the vote against Cassidy’s 40.1%, both candidates falling short of the 50-percent-plus-one vote needed to avoid a runoff.
Florida’s incumbent Republican governor Rick Scott defeated former Republican governor Charlie Crist, who ran against Gov. Scott as a Democrat. The Florida race for governor proved to be extremely close, with Scott winning 48.2% of the vote against Crist’s 47%.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also won re-election, defeating Democratic challenger Mary Burke. Walker has won three gubernatorial elections over past 4 years, including a 2012 recall election.
Colorado’s gubernatorial race is still too close to call. At 93% of precincts reporting, Democratic incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper has a slight 1% lead over Republican opponent, and former Congressman, Bob Beauprez.
Connecticut’s race for governor is similarly close. Although a winner has not been declared yet, Democratic incumbent Gov. Dan Malloy holds a narrow lead over challenger Tom Foley.
Vermont’s gubernatorial race between Democratic incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin and Republican challenger Scott Milne has been declared too close to call. Vermont’s state legislature will decide the winner of the governor’s race in January as neither candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote.
Abortion related measures were on the ballot in Colorado, North Dakota, and Tennessee. While Colorado and North Dakota voters rejected “personhood” measures that would have given fetuses new rights, Tennessee voters approved an initiative that gives state lawmakers more power to restrict and regulate abortions.
Minimum wage increases passed in Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Alaska. Illinois voters also backed an increase of the minimum wage, but the measure was a non-binding referendum.
Statewide marijuana legalization was passed by voters in Alaska and Oregon, legalizing marijuana for recreational use for adults 21 and over. Voters in the District of Columbia voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use as well, but the measure does not legalize sales of the drug. In Florida, voters approved of legalizing medical marijuana in the state, but since the measure would amend the constitution it needed at least 60% to pass. The measure only received a 58% approval.
Washington state voters approved one of the strictest gun background check laws in the nation. The measure, Initiative 594, mandates background checks for all gun purchases and gun transfers in the state.
Governor Jerry Brown was reelected for another four year term over Republican challenger Neel Kashkari. Brown won 58.7% of the vote, easily defeating Kashkari’s 41.3%.
Many other incumbent executive officer positions were also reelected, including Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and State Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Proposition 1, the water bond measure, Proposition 2, increasing the “rainy day fund” through the state’s budget, and Proposition 47, reforming criminal sentences for nonviolent crimes, were all approved by voters.
Proposition 45, requiring health insurance companies to justify rate changes, Proposition 46, requiring doctors to undergo drug testing in order to curtail negligence and malpractice, and Proposition 48, a referendum that would have updated tribal gaming compacts, were all rejected by voters.
Congresswoman Lois Capps will continue to represent California’s 24th Congressional District after defeating Republican Chris Mitchum. Capps won with 51.6% of the vote, while Mitchum received 48.4%.
State Assemblyman Das Williams was re-elected over Republican opponent Ron DeBlauw to represent California’s 37th State Assembly District. Williams received 57.6% of the votes, beating DeBlauw’s 42.4%.
Measure P, which would ban fracking and other oil extraction techniques, and Measure S, the Santa Barbara City College $288 million bond measure, were both defeated. Measure P was overwhelmingly defeated with 62.65% of voters voting against the measure and 37.35% voting for it. Measure S required a 55% approval vote in order to pass, but only received 51.11%.
In the race for Santa Barbara City College’s Board of Trustees, Jonathan Abboud won the seat against challenger Ethan Stone with 60.9% of the vote, beating Stone’s 38.6%.
Paola De La Cruz and Jacob Lebell both received enough votes to fill the two open seats on the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District’s Board of Directors, with 32.96% and 27.15%, respectively.