Michael Sorge - SUNY Purchase

After Republican candidates across the nation swept the midterm elections and took back control of the U.S. Senate, many suggested Democrats’ defeat came as a result of American’s disapproval of President Obama’s job performance.

But that’s not exactly the case, suggest professors in interviews with The College Fix.

Voter turnout, poor campaigning by Democrats, mainstream Republican candidates who ran strong campaigns and other factors played a strong role in the election results, they say.

History shows low voter turnout favors Democrats, and Donald Greenberg, a political science professor at Fairfield University, points out turnout was abysmal. 2014map

“The turnout for the election was under 40 percent, the lowest turnout since 1942,” he said in an email to The College Fix.

While many have used the turnout component to excuse or ameliorate voter disapproval of President Obama, Professor Greenberg has a different take.

“The terrible campaign run by Democrats gave voters no reason to vote for them,” he said.

Some political pundits have agreed in some way with that sentiment, and a few Democrats have suggested running away from President Obama may have actually made their job of keeping control of the Senate more difficult.

In another theory, The New York Times ran an article two days after the election saying that the Republican victory can in large part be attributed to the fact that extreme conservatives who have said controversial things were kept from running this time around, making GOP candidates stronger in the general election.

Miami University Professor Bryan Marshall agreed in a way, saying in an email to The College Fix that the GOP, as a whole, ran “a group of top tier candidates and many proved to be very disciplined campaigns.”

Professor Marshall cautioned however that there are no simple answers to the midterm election results although “some will want to paint that picture.”

Some professors suggested it was a matter of odds.

“Most political scientists predicted it,” government Professor Stephen Medvic said in a post-election review panel at Franklin & Marshall College. “Since 1934, the sitting president’s party has only gained seats twice in a mid-term election.”

Midterm elections tend to draw older less liberal crowds to the polls, which does have an intrinsic advantage to the Republican Party. But many non-political analysts noted that these demographics can not alone be the central reason for the drubbing of Democrats in nationwide.

For example, Republicans were markedly improved in the area of single women, normally a Democratic bastion.

The ‘War on Women’ message fell flat,” said Western Kentucky University political science professor Joel Turner to his campus newspaper.

In fact, there seems to be no clear consensus, and what one takes away from the election does seem to hem along party lines, with Democrats seeing the Republicans running a savvy campaign and Republicans seeing a unanimous rejection of President Obama.

College Fix reporter Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

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In recent elections, millennials have participated in droves to the advantage of Democrats and President Barack Obama, and control of the Senate may indeed turn on whether or not Democrats can corral young people to the polls Tuesday.

But according to a recent Harvard University poll, only 26 percent of Americans age 18 to 29 say they will “definitely vote,” indicating significant disinterest in the less popular midterm elections.

That same poll found that 51 percent of millennials who say they will “definitely be voting” on Tuesday prefer a Republican-run Congress, with only 47 percent favoring Democrat control.

It seems young voters – who historically tend to vote Democrat – are disillusioned with their preferred political party. So they may sit this one out.

“It’s all rigged, Obama didn’t do what he said he would but the Republicans are no good either. Neither look after the middle class, why bother?” Carl Ackley, a music student and senior at SUNY Purchase, told The College Fix.

Ashley Spillane, who leads “Rock the Vote,” a popular activist group that visits college campuses in an effort to get the youth to engage in the political process, suggested young people are tired of being falsely pandered to.

“If people were paying attention to young people in an authentic way, actually caring about those issues, you’d see a much higher turnout rate,” she told CBS news.

Recent headlines declare “Millenial voters feel abandoned by Democrats,” and “Millennial voters a new worry for Dems.”

Some campus newspapers echo similar sentiments.

“It would be one thing if Democrats truly disagreed with the president’s core policies like minimum wage increases, student loan reform, and continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act—but they don’t,” an editorial in Harvard University’s Crimson student newspaper declared. “Missing a photo op while privately endorsing all the president’s proposals is just the kind the shallow and superficial politicking that has turned Americans against Democratic leadership.”

The Republican National Committee is even confident millennials will turn out for them, saying their new campus captain program has engaged young people and educated them about how Obama has fumbled the economic recovery and other missteps.

“We’re making sure students know that the GOP stands up for free market innovators, like Uber, for better education through school choice and for lower health care costs,” said Elliott Echols, the RNC National Youth Director, in an opinion column. “Gone are the days of liberal demagoguery standing unchallenged on campuses.”

Some Democrats openly acknowledge they are locked in a losing battle in trying to sway younger voters to head to the polls.

Jim Manley, former spokesperson for Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) grimly told The Hill that for millennials, Obama’s mantra of hope and change has “hit a brick wall.”

College Fix reporter Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

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IMAGE: Young Americans for Liberty

New York campus health official: ‘Yes, we are concerned’

As many watch with worry at the spread of the deadly Ebola virus on American shores – and a new confirmed case of Ebola has popped up in New York City – colleges in New York and nationwide have taken a variety of precautionary steps to prepare for a possible case on their campuses.

At the State University of New York-Purchase College, medical officials told The College Fix that they will monitor students who may have traveled to West Africa, but would not confirm if any students have actually traveled to the affected regions where Ebola has ravaged villages and towns.

Medical staff at Purchase College expressed assurances that the campus is undergoing efforts to ensure greater safety and that there is a low chance of the deadly African virus reaching the school, but there are no guarantees, especially since the virus originally wasn’t thought to even start a mini-outbreak in the United States, they said.

“Everything can change on a dime … we are constantly evolving our protocols, trying to make them better, but yes, we are concerned,” said Dr. Nancy Reuben, the medical director of health services at Purchase College.

Dr. Reuben said that the small staff at Purchase Health Services has ordered advanced personal protective gear to prevent the virus from infecting any of the nurses or staff in the case a suspected Ebola patient, and all arrivals to the health center will be screened for recent travel history.

“We are also having an emergency response team meeting with all departments… to coordinate what to do if someone does bring it to campus,” she added.

Despite broad statements to assure the public that steps are being taken to insure public health safety in New York schools, students – while not panicking – are also not entirely convinced of their safety.

“[Y]eah, me and my friends talk about it, it is kinda scary,” Moriah Ormsby, a senior at SUNY Purchase, told The College Fix.

The World Health Organization on Oct. 12 released disturbing statistics including that there can soon be more than 10,000 cases of infections a week and perhaps more pressing—that the mortality rate of the outbreak is 70 percent, that Ebola kills 7 out of 10 people who contract the virus.

With that, some colleges have suspended their study abroad programs to West African countries. Others have updated their infections disease protocols, purchased hazmat suits and launched campus education efforts. And most campus officials have asked students returning from Ebola-affected countries to check in at the health office to fill out a questionnaire and take home thermometers, another CDC-recommended protocol.

With the sudden exposure on American soil, hospitals and airports around the country are on high alert, as are colleges, where many interactions in tight-knit environments such as dorms and classrooms occur.

Many college officials do not see this threat as a joke. When a San Diego college student claimed she had flu-like symptoms and might have ridden in the same plane with a confirmed Ebola patient, the school went into lockdown and quarantined students before determining the claim was unsubstantiated.

Several of the safety precautions seen on campus are the result of the Center for Disease Control instructing universities recently to “identify students, faculty, and staff who have been in countries where Ebola outbreaks are occurring within the past 21 days” and “conduct a risk assessment with each identified person to determine his or her level of risk exposure.”

“During the time that you are monitoring your health, if you have no symptoms, you can continue your normal activities, including work and school,” the CDC also advised students. “If you get symptoms of Ebola, it is important to stay separated from other people and to call your doctor right away.”

UC Berkeley officials stated that an Ebola case in California is highly likely, and that its University Health Services workers have undergone extensive training on how to respond to those presenting Ebola-like symptoms. But the university also shelved plans to launch a study abroad program in Sierra Leone.

In Texas, where to Americans are recovering from Ebola, university officials have also asked those who have traveled to West African countries recently to contact the Student Health Center.

The University of Oregon also cancelled its global health and development study abroad program in Ghana. Harvard University has launched new travel restrictions. Navarro College will not accept new applications from students residing in Africa.

The global health crisis of the Ebola epidemic had been brewing for months before American efforts, primarily led by the Centers for Disease Control, intensified recently.

Ebola, named after an African river, spread virulently through the primary three countries hit hardest; Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. The American public’s attention however only reached its current height after a man flying from Liberia was diagnosed with Ebola in a Dallas hospital and then accidentally released—potentially exposing others. The man, Thomas Duncan, died. The new case in New York City has also reignited fears.

There are serious concerns among some students across the country that colleges may be caught unprepared if a case of Ebola does hit their campus.

A student group at the University of Virginia is calling on the university to take concrete steps to protect the campus, with one student saying the campus “as a whole has not had a response,” according to the Cavalier Daily student newspaper.

College Fix reporter Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

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After months of promising a “balanced approach” to reducing the national deficit, President Barack Obama is backing off of his own compromise proposal, and he now refuses to cut one cent from the government’s bloated budget.

Mr. Obama and liberal Democrats in the Senate and House have coalesced to form a stubborn obstacle to even small reductions in spending on the nation’s many social welfare programs.

In fact what was once a concession by Democrats, that tax increases on the wealthy would have to be combined with spending, has now largely turned into a one sided “negotiation” with Democrats now saying that any spending curtailments must come after tax rates go up on Americans making more than $250,000 a year.

Democrats, emboldened by positive results in the presidential and congressional elections, have given up even the appearance of supporting efforts to cut spending.

The nation is in serious financial trouble. But instead of the sober debates in Congress that one would expect, we see nothing but dueling press conferences featuring Mr. Obama returning to the campaign trail to stoke class resentment and drum up support for higher taxes.

According to the GOP House Speaker John Boehner “no substantive progress has been made” in the meetings (taking place mostly in secret) regarding the looming fiscal cliff.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was reported to have laughed at a new Obama administration proposal, delivered by Secretary Treasurer Timothy Geithner, which included 50 billion dollars more spending for stimulus in an effort to “cut” the deficit. However, the idea of raising taxes has become more popular with some Republicans too.

In the wake of the GOP’s election loss, some Republicans believe that the national electorate will look at their party with scorn if it is seen as protecting the rich at the expense of the middle class. GOP Senator Tom Cole is typical of those members who think that, while conservatives may be philosophically correct in wanting to protect job creators, they are losing the PR war with Mr. Obama, and that the better of two bad options is to make a deal that allows for increased taxes.

While there is discontent and infighting among the GOP between moderates and those who are strict fiscal conservatives, the Democrats have solidified. Talks of increased revenue, and of the rich paying their “fair share” are abundant. Never mind that the wealthy already pay a greater share of their income than the poor or middle class. The top 20% earn 50.8% of the income but pay 67.9% of the taxes. Meanwhile, the bottom 40% of U.S. earners make 14.9% of the income but pay only 4.1% of the total income tax.

Most earners in the bottom 40% actually pay no income taxes at all, but instead get money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits. How then do the Democrats keep a straight face when they claim that the rich aren’t paying their “fair share?”

And what about our out-of-control spending? The only discussion regarding the sacrosanct programs of Medicare and Social Security from Democrats is when Illinois Senator Richard Durbin opined, “The Social Security is a separate thing. It does not add a penny to the debt.”

The president and his Democratic colleagues in Congress have broken their promise of a “balanced approach” to solving the fiscal crisis. They are not interested in cutting our out of control spending in the least, despite a national debt that totals more than $16 trillion.

If the U.S. falls over the “fiscal cliff”—it will be because the president and his fellow Democrats have broken their promises to the American people.

Fix contributor Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

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With Barack Obama’s re-election triumph in hand, there is reason to think that the investigation into the terrorist attacks that occurred in Libya could move forward now. The president, after all, has less at risk now if there were any political fallout.

However, the Congressional inquiry looking into exactly what happened on Sept 11th when Islamic extremists killed four Americans at a consulate in Benghazi, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, has been stymied.

The David Petraeus sex scandal has enveloped Washington DC, seemingly drowning out the coverage of the Libyan attack, when it ought to be fueling it.

President Obama dismissed the questions being asked by GOP senators and representatives. In a press conference on Wednesday, he remained obstinate in his apparent willingness to nominate Ambassador Susan Rice as Secretary of State, even though she appeared on numerous talk shows stating falsely that the attack in Benghazi was not terrorism but rather, was a political protest gone awry.

Obama challenged Sen. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have called for thorough investigations into what transpired, and into what the White House knew and why Ms. Rice’s comments were inaccurate.

Obama said, “She made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me… But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence… to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”

The president’s statement only leads to another question: Why was Rice sent out by the White House to represent information on the topic in the first place considering she had no hand in the inner-decision making?

Sen. Graham hit back hard after the press conference, retorting, “Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi. I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack.”

Mr. Obama dodged a question about whether he personally gave orders to help the Americans at the consulate in real time.

So far the shifting and bumbling response by the administration regarding the motives behind the extremists who carried out the assault has not been accounted for. Mr. Petraeus, who was scheduled to testify this Thursday on the Benghazi situation has had his testimony delayed.

The Obama administration has continually refused to answer whether they knew that the consulate was attacked many times prior to Sept 11th citing that the investigation is ongoing.

Yet, in reality, the investigation isn’t “ongoing.” It’s going nowhere.

In his remarks to the press the president said there was “no debate” from him that the matter needed to be investigated. Yet it’s been two months since Ambassador Stevens was murdered and a clear picture of before, during, and after the attacks has still not emerged.

At his press conference, the president still wouldn’t answer direct questions about what he knew about attacks on the consulate prior to Sept 11th. Nor has he provided critical details about how he responded during and immediately after the fatal Benghazi attack.

Furthermore, the White House claims that neither the president nor anyone in his cabinet knew that the Director of the CIA was under investigation by the FBI since late summer–not until the day after the election.

Fix Contributor Michael Sorge is a student at Purchase College, State University of New York.

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Mitt Romney was too conservative. Or was he too moderate? Does the GOP need to reach out to Latinos more or move right and energize their conservative base? Today Republicans are left pondering why they lost this election.

Democrats are in a celebratory mode, despite a looming “fiscal cliff” and serious economic promises facing the nation. Republicans, many who predicted that Mr. Romney would pull off a decisive victory, were left confused but with plenty of blame. Karl Rove on Fox News was even criticizing the station for calling Ohio too early.

Late night reversals and predictions gave the presumed “red” state of Virginia to Obama. The intensely close nature of the Florida race showed that Mr. Romney was in for a tough night.

There is evidence for those in the GOP who claim that it is not the Republican vision that was rejected by American voters, but rather the extreme on the ideological right. Democrats retained control of the Senate after a series of Tea Party inspired nominations made gaffes regarding abortion and rape. If it had not been for these nominations, more traditional Republican candidates would have won, they claim.

Steve Hayes, columnist for the Weekly Standard, disagreed and argued that it was moderation and lack of serious conservatism that was culpable for the defeat. He said the future of the GOP relied on “substantive conservatives,” like Bobby Jindal. He argued that the American public wants “people who are big thinkers and who get stuff done and people like Scott Walker, Marco Rubio…”

George Will, a conservative commentator, said on ABC News that there were now “two factions in the Republican Party”, saying that there was a libertarian group focusing on pocketbook issues while the social conservatives focus on abortion and gay marriage. Mr. Will also derided the President saying that “Obama wants to be on the Mount Rushmore of liberalism.”

Though Mr. Obama retained a sizable part of the electoral college, the nation is still starkly divided. For much of the night Mr. Romney held a lead in the nation popular vote, though it is approximately 50 % to 49% for the President now.

A changing demography of the American electorate could also be a conundrum for future Republican politicians and leaders. Whites, though breaking toward Mr. Romney, are being overruled by a growing Latino community. Other minorities including blacks also overwhelmingly support Democrats and liberal policies.

“It is going to take a long time for the Republicans to get the state of the country,” Matthew Dowd, a consultant to George W. Bush, opined.  Many in and out of the GOP echoed similar sentiments.

In election night speeches to the divided public both Mr. Romney and the incumbent struck conciliatory and bipartisan tones. Mr. Romney chided “partisan” bickering while Mr. Obama specifically said he would “sit down with Gov. Romney” to deal with big issues.

President Obama’s speech was delivered in an optimistic tone, however he laid out a liberal agenda despite the fact that nearly half the nation voted against him and his policies. He stated that citizens must not ask what government will do for them and must rely on self-governance, while also saying that we are a co-dependent family.

How the social conservatives, libertarians, and moderate Republicans mend will take a long time to see. The crucial question among the caucusing Republican lawmakers heading to Capitol Hill is which post-loss narrative will prevail? Some fear a greater shift to the center, while others warn against a turn to the right.

What is certain is that all Americans will see partisan gridlock put to the test again soon, as the debate over the “fiscal cliff” comes near.

Fix Contributor Michael Sorge is a student at Purchase College, State University of New York.

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(Image: Brendan Mruk / Wikimedia Commons)