Students react to election results, Democratic majority in Congress

From 1954 until 1994 the Democratic Party controlled Congress. In 1994, the Republican Party captured eight Senate seats and 54 House seats from the Democrats. Nov. 7, the tide turned once again, and the Democrats regained control of Congress by taking six Senate seats and at least 29 House seats from Republicans. This new Democratic majority will make representative Nancy Pelosi the first woman Speaker of the House, as well as third in line to the Presidency, when the new Congress is sworn in. It also allows Democrats to set the agenda in Congress and gives them the committee chairs in both houses. Chet Culver won over Jim Nussle with 54 percent of the popular vote, and will be the next governor of Iowa. Nationwide, the Democrats gained six new governorships, giving them the majority over Republicans with 28 Governor seats. Most Ames High students didn’t seem to know or care about the election. Many refused to give their name or respond to any questions, often citing apathy or a lack of knowledge. “I don’t like politics,” junior Erika Bjorklund said. When asked to comment on the elections, sophomore Anna Ashley didn’t seem to know that they had happened yet. “Who’s running for anything? I don’t know anything about it,” Ashley said. “I haven’t been paying attention,” freshman Kyle Wilkins said. Bjorklund, Ashley, and Wilkins’s views appear to be representative of much of America’s youth. This election, turnout among eligible voters under 30 was 24 percent. This figure was heralded as a mark of great progress, as it is 4 percent above turnout in the 2002 elections for the same demographic. However, overall voter turnout was 40.4 percent among all eligible voters, nearly twice the turnout for the under 30 group. But that doesn’t mean all students were unenthusiastic in the elections. “I was really happy about the outcome, but my parents were really angry,” senior Erin Bagnall said. “I don’t know if I’m really ‘liberal,’ but I’m definitely more liberal than my parents.” “I’m happy with the Democratic victories–I think it will help our nation become better,” sophomore Isaac Strohman said. “And my dad won, too.” Strohman’s father, James Strohman, was elected Story County Supervisor. Many students believed that a nationwide anti-Bush sentiment was a major burden on Republicans. “I think it shows the popularity of our current administration,” senior Lizzie Warth said. “There’s going to be definite changes in how our government is run.” “It’s kind of what I was expecting,” senior Hiwot Abebe said. “There’s very low approval for George Bush right now.” The elections also brought about changes in the executive branch. Nov. 8, President Bush announced the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a man who, only days earlier, Bush had said he would keep on his staff until the end of his term.