Midterm Maelstrom

Midterm Maelstrom

Written by Oscar Scholin, Journalist

As the midterm elections of 2018 finalize, Democratic gains materialize: the Democrats have currently won 32 seats in the House of Representatives, enough seats to ensure them control. While the Republicans still control the Senate, voters elected 6 new Democratic governors.


But the greatest gain for the Democrats is a newly invigorated voting group: exit polls show that 67% of under 29 year olds voted Democratic over Republican, that an additional 3% of Latinos voted Democratic, and that 77% of Asians voted Democratic. Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist, remarked that “The emerging electorate, the one which will dominate U.S. politics for the next generation or two, supported Democrats in record numbers.” This group of voters will play a key role in the 2020 presidential election.


Close races abounded during the midterm elections. 20 Democrats won or are currently winning seats in the House of Representatives by fewer than a 5% difference. Similarly, 12 Republicans won or are currently winning seats in the House of Representatives by fewer than 5%. These contested races highlight the divide in America and in American politics today.


In California, Gavin Newsom (Democrat) won over his opponent John Cox (Republican) garnering 59.8% versus 40.2% of the votes. Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat) will be serving her 5th term in office, along with Kamala Harris (Democrat). Closer to home, Jimmy Panetta (Democrat) won our congressional district by a landslide. (See https://www.washingtonpost.com/election-results/california/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.607608f99894 for more information)

Locally, Measure J, which proposed funding for a plan to publicly buy out the private California American Water Company (Cal Am), passed by a majority of 55% to 45%. However, the passage of the measure does not completely ensure a public buyout; rather, it mandates a public buyout if the board of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District approves the feasibility of the buyout. The board will select people to comprise a team to appraise Cal AM and its assets to assess a possible buyout; the consulting team will have until the end of December to deliberate before they make a final decision.


The fiercely contested Measure M, which proposed new restrictions on short term vacation rentals in Pacific Grove, passed 58% to 42%. Short-term vacation rentals are now prohibited outside of the coastal zone (see map https://www.cityofpacificgrove.org/sites/default/files/general-documents/local-coastal-program/coastal-zone-figure-1.pdf) or commercial districts. Tax from vacation rentals neted Pacific Grove about $2.2 million this past year, and the passage of Measure M will drop that amount by $1.25 million However, voters passed Measure U, increasing the tax Pacific Grove innkeepers collect from their guests by 2%. That additional increase is expected to net the city about $1.135 million — almost the amount lost by Measure M.


Be prepared. Many of us will be able to vote in the next general (and presidential) election. The more we understand what’s going on, the better. Democracy depends on participation: we must vote.