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ISU Expert: Election Showed More Purple Than Blue

McLean County Democratic Watch Party
Jeff Smudde
A supporter cheers as the election results are posted during a Democratic watch party on Tuesday in Normal.

Even though Democrats have taken back control of the U.S. House, a political scientist at Illinois State University says there were several key storylines that didn't pan out on Election Day.
Assistant Professor of Politics and Government Kerri Milita says all the pre-election hype likely caused a slight increase in voter turnout, but didn't prompt a so-called Blue Wave that many had predicted.

“This was supposed to be the youth year, right? The youth vote,” Milita says. “It looks like about 13 percent of those under age 30 voted. So this unfortunately wasn’t the youth vote, but it was other demographics giving us a little bit of a bump in turnout for a midterm year.”

Milita said President Donald Trump has already reached out to Democrats to talk about possible deals on infrastructure and immigration, though he raised the possibility of increased rancor if Democrats try to use subpoenas against his administration.

She said extending the olive branch is common after a president's party takes a loss, but she says it remains to be seen if that's an empty promise. She said the parties didn't work together any closer after the Democrats lost power during the Obama presidency. 

Red And Blue Make Purple

Milita says multiple ballot initiatives, including Michigan legalizing marijuana and Missouri and Utah approving medical marijuana, run counter to many perceptions about the conservative-liberal political divide.

“When we look at election results all we see is the red state or the blue state, but we don’t see the nuanced purple in the middle which is still the norm in American. People aren’t as polarized at the parties are.”

Milita notes Floridians elected a Republican governor and overwhelmingly voted to restore voting rights to ex-felons.

You can also listen to the full interview:

GLT's interview with two Illinois State University professors.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.