Today’s midterm elections include tight House and Senate races across the country. Polls predict that Republicans will take control of the House, as over a year of high inflation weighs on voters’ minds. Meanwhile, the Senate remains a toss up, with key races in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District is currently being contested by Democrat Seth Magaziner ’06, state treasurer, and Republican Allan Fung, former mayor of Cranston. An Oct. 6 WPRI-12/Roger Williams University poll shows Fung with a six-point lead and an Oct. 12 Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll has him up eight points.
Rhode Island incumbent Gov. Dan McKee is favored to win against Republican challenger Ashley Kalus, maintaining a 10-point lead in the Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll. Today’s ballots also include questions on three bond referenda which will allocate funds to different projects in Rhode Island.
With races set to be decided today, politically active University students have been eagerly campaigning and discussing issues. The Herald spoke to student representatives from campus political organizations about their engagement with the midterm elections and their predictions, as well as how outcomes will impact students.
In the months leading up to the election, students from both ends of the political spectrum have participated in campaigns for Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District. According to Noah Rosenfeld ’24, vice president of the Brown College Democrats, the student organization has hosted phone banks and text banks with campaigns across the country, including multiple phone banks in the past week.
Brown Dems has also matched 30 Brown students to work on congressional races through their internship match, a semesterly program which pairs Brown students with campaigns, nonprofit organizations and government offices across the country.
“We're able to connect Brown students to campaigns that are looking for help to get out the vote and spread the message that Democrats need to win the midterms,” Rosenfeld said.
Students from Brown College Republicans have also been campaigning for the congressional race in the 2nd Congressional District, according to Jack Wolfsohn ’23, president of the group. Brown College Republicans have been door knocking for Fung’s campaign and continue to phone bank through Election Day.
“I’ve hit about 600 doors at this point” throughout the southern part of the state, Wolfsohn said. “It’s been a great experience.”
Fung has highlighted costs of living, gas prices and law enforcement as central issues in his campaign.
“A lot of Rhode Islanders I’m talking to are leaning toward the Republican Party,” Wolfsohn said, noting that despite its current Democratic Congressional delegation, almost half of registered voters in Rhode Island are unaffiliated. “A lot of people are really excited that (Fung) can finally flip the seat red.”
Rhode Island’s congressional seat has remained in Democratic hands for three decades. If Fung wins the seat, he will be only the second Republican in Congress from New England.
Rosenfeld said he hopes Magaziner will be able to “bring Rhode Island values to Washington” with a win at the polls today.
“Magaziner is running for working people in Rhode Island, he is running to protect Social Security,” Rosenfeld said. “He's running to protect a woman's right to choose, which is a fundamental right. He's working to protect our democracy from crazy MAGA Republicans who want to strip away the right to vote for people all across the country.”
Wolfsohn pointed out that only 15% of voters say abortion is their top issue and argued that the outcome of this election will not affect the integrity of American democracy.
The congressional election is “a really competitive race, and I think (Fung) is going to win,” Wolfsohn added.
John Michael Slezak ’24, secretary of No Labels, a political discussion group on campus, said he “expects” that Republicans will take control of the House, and “hopes” Democrats will maintain control over the Senate.
No Labels hosted an event a few weeks ago where students predicted the outcomes of the upcoming election, Slezak said. But what was “more interesting,” he added, was the discussion about whether election outcomes will be accepted as valid across the country. Students who attended the event had “mixed opinions” on what might happen and whether or not election results would be contested like with the 2020 presidential election.
“I will totally trust the results of the election,” Wolfsohn said. “There is voter fraud, obviously,” but Brown College Republicans “think that … voter fraud is not on the level to which point it’s going to swing the election.”
Rosenfeld said he hopes for a strong showing from Democrats “up and down the ballot.”
“Regardless of what happens on Nov. 8, on Nov. 9 we are going to keep fighting and keep pushing for the democratic values we believe in,” Rosenfeld said. Brown College Democrats will “immediately” start planning events for the rest of the semester, including engaging with political operatives to connect students with campaigns and nonprofit organizations, he added.
Other political student organizations are also planning events after the midterms. Brown College Republicans is planning on hosting an event with Charles Stimson of the Heritage Foundation on Nov. 15 to discuss crime rates and law enforcement policy.
On Nov. 14, No Labels is hosting a debate between Democratic and Republican students to discuss inflation, election security, voting rights and abortion — “what they want to see the federal government do over the next two years,” Slezak said.
“The fight really just begins on Tuesday,” Rosenfeld said.