The Change of the Times: The 2010 Elections

With the results of the 2010 mid-term elections now tallied, the United States once again stands in the midst of a divided government. The Republican Party has taken control of the House of Representatives with 239 seats as opposed to the 185 seats controlled by the Democratic Party.

With a democratic President and Senate and a republican House of Representatives, things could become very difficult for the country in terms of passing legislation. The same could be said for the Tar Heel state. What does this mean for the United States? For North Carolina?

Dr. Gibbs Knotts, department head of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, explained, “It is possible that both parties can work together. The American people have elected them to cooperate.”

Knotts also explained there is no need for the U.S. to enter a “gridlock,” which, in this case, is the difficulty of passing laws in a legislature where the executive branch and the legislature are controlled by different political parties.

The example of the Clinton administration as an illustration of how opposing parties in legislation can work together is an example of how things could happen again, explained Knotts. Clinton, a Democratic Party president, was able to work with a newly instated Republican Congress in the 1994 elections and they were able to get things accomplished.

How will N.C. be impacted with a state legislature controlled by Republicans, something that has not happened in 142 years? According to an interview with North Carolina Public Radio (WUNC), Thom Tillis, strategy chief for the N.C. House GOP, said this about the results, “We’re a centrist state. We’re a small government, we’re a limited-government, free-market, stay-out of my-personal-life electorate.”

How will Republicans having control of the legislature work with having a Democratic governor? Tillis said this will mean that the GOP will have to work across the aisle to get things done.

“What we have to do is make sure that we come up with a strategy that actually in some cases will be veto-proof,” said Tillis. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we really can’t afford the cycles that it’ll take to go back and forth between the Governor’s Mansion and the general assembly.”

Students, professors and professional staff on campus were mixed about the new changes in government.

Brandon Hawks, Executive Assistant for the Jim Davis campaign, said: “I loved the results, people are fed up and they want real change. It will not impede progress, but expand it in the U.S. and N.C. If Republicans stand by the principles of small government and fiscal sanity, we will see an economic and social boom like no other. It will change N.C. for the better. For about 118 years it’s been a Democrat stronghold; for any party to be in power that long is never good.”

Daniel Dorsey, SGA Student Body President, said, “With all republicans coming in, it will be good because no legislation will be passed.”

He further explained that too much legislation has been passed and now we are in the worst economy in 10 years.

Doug Bridges, treasurer for WCU College Democrats, said, “We should expect more cooperation on a national level between the Republicans and Democrats since the Republicans control the House and the Democrats have a slight lock on the Senate.”

Keshia Martin, Resident Director for Harrill Hall, said, “In general, the idea of the whole system that we have in the U.S. is for checks and balances and I hope that continues to be the case. However, I hope that people would not concentrate so much on their own personal agendas, and regardless of party affiliations, they will do what is right for all Americans.”

Michael Fitzwater, vice president of WCU College Republicans, said, “I feel the results are excellent for the Republican Party and our county. The people spoke and it’s time for our government to start listening.”

Lea Anna Bright, president of the WCU Political Science Club, said, “I believe the election results are an indicative response to the current administration and the economic hardships. People are frustrated and I think with such dramatic results, the frustration of America is clear. With the House now being one of Republican majority, it will now be very difficult for the current administration to pass legislation.”

Bill Studenc, Senior Director of WCU News Services,said, “As a recent graduate of the MPA program whose last class of the program was “Southern Politics,” I found the election results to be pretty intriguing, especially from a statewide perspective. I think the biggest effect, at least on the statewide scene, is the possible impact the election could have on North Carolina’s political structure for 10 years into the future. This will be the year when the Legislature gets to redraw the way that legislative and congressional districts will look through 2010.”

Matthew Hoagland, founder of the WCU Young Americans for Liberty chapter, said, “I think the results show the American system of government, a democratic republic, at its finest. These results will hopefully result in reducing the impact the government has on our lives, and the economy, and once again allow people, average citizens, to make the important decisions that affect their lives without uncertainty or stipulation from government.”

Greg Hirsh, alumni chair for WCU College Republicans, said, “Overall, I feel more proud, now more than ever, to be a conservative American. The results show that the American public is sick and tired of the Washington and Raleigh showboating and the President and Gov. Perdue have a lot of work ahead of them. The biggest thing that will affect us here in North Carolina is the redrawing of state and congressional districts.”

What was better than expected was the voting turnout across the U.S. this year. According to the United States Election project, conducted by Dr. Michael McDonald at Georgia Mason University, 41.5 percent of the national voting eligible population (VEP) and 39.7 percent of the North Carolina VEP voted in this election. This was a slight increase from the 40.4 percent who voted nationally, but a bigger increase from 31 percent of the N.C. VEP who voted in the 2006 mid-term elections.

According to the Associated Press’ exit poll results, 46 percent of voters claimed to be Democratic, 52 percent claimed to be Republican and the remaining 2 percent claimed to be Independent, Green, Tea Partiers and others.

Now that the 2010 mid-term election is officially over, 2012 election campaigns have already started. Names are emerging all over the country and speculation has already begun as to who will attempt to run in the 2012 presidential elections. Democratic possibilities for the presidential race: current President Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, and more. Republicans who could potentially be running: Haley Barbour, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and more.

There are a lot of mixed voices, opinions and worries for the country and N.C. Things will be changing and things will be different. Knotts reminds that the Democratic Party is more liberal and the Republican Party is more conservative now than either party has ever been.