Illinois votes blue during 2018 midterm elections

Fresh off aweekend rally with former President Barack Obama, J.B. Pritzker defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner during a strong night for local Democrats.

Nationally, women and minority candidates led the way as Democrats flipped the House of Representatives, likely providing a check and balance on the Trump administration over the next two years. Despite big losses in House races, Republicans were able to hold onto–and may increase–their Senate majority.

Thirty minutes after polls closed in Illinois, Rauner called Pritzker to concede the election to him and Juliana Stratton, lieutenant governor-elect. Pritzker won with 54 percent of the vote to Rauner’s 39 percent.

“Are you ready for the fight? The fight for healthcare equality for everyone? For equal pay for equal work?” Pritzker asked during his election party address.

During a Nov. 4 Get Out the Vote rally in Chicago, former President Obama endorsed Pritzker and other Democratic candidates, including Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten for Congress, Kwame Raoul for attorney general and Susana Mendoza for comptroller.

Underwood, Casten, Raoul and Mendoza all won their races.

In other Congressional elections, only five Illinois Republicans won House races and thirteen Illinois Democrats won seats.

Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, said record high numbers of early voting and vote by mail signaled an impressive turnout at the polls beforehand.

In this election, millennials wanted their voices to be heard, he said.

“It all comes down to a sense of urgency, and a sense of wanting to participate if they hadn’t in the past,” Allen said.

Briana Kennedy, a junior advertising major at Columbia, voted for the first time this year. In the past, she said absentee ballots and the confusing voting process had discouraged her from voting, but she said she made it a priority to figure out how to vote for the 2018 midterms.

“[Previous elections] should’ve been [like] this year, with more conversation and drive to vote,” Kennedy said. “We should always have this kind of attitude, and the only reason why it’s like that is because we didn’t think Trump would get elected, so now it’s like, ‘Sh*t, we really have to [vote].’”

Associate Professor in the Communication Department Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin helped students register to vote during Convocation Aug. 31.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, about 31 percent of people 18-29 years old voted in the midterms, which is estimated to be the highest turnout among youth in decades.

“A lot of students are not happy with the current [political] administration and that [motivated] a lot of them to register to vote,” Bloyd-Peshkin said.

Nationally, as of press time, Democrats gained 30 seats in the House and lost two in the Senate.

While Kennedy said she was pleased with the House flip and unsurprised Republicans held onto the Senate, her choice, when it came to governor, was less enthusiastic.

She said she felt compelled to look past Pritzker’s wealthy, privileged background because she would never vote for Rauner.

“To any of the talking heads that do not give [Republicans] proper credit for this great Midterm Election, just remember two words – FAKE NEWS!,” Trump tweeted Nov. 7.

Many candidates’ victories represented “firsts,” including Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) and Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico) as the first Native American congresswomen-elect, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mississippi) will become the first ever Muslim congresswomen.

This is an updated version of a web story.