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Notre Dame hosts debate about potential results of midterm elections

| Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The United States is in a time of great political divide. With the midterm elections around the corner, people are seeking answers and closure. Tuesday, Notre Dame Constitutional Studies and the Center for Social Concerns’ ND Votes hosted a debate titled “A Blue Wave? The 2018 Mid-Term Elections and the Future of American Democracy.”

This event featured Damon Linker, a senior correspondent at The Week, a consulting editor at the University of Pennsylvania Press and the author of books on the relationship between religion and politics. Linker described himself as politically liberal while the other guest speaker, Ramesh Ponnuru, identified himself as a Republican. Ponnuru is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, senior editor of National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the author of two books.

After introductions and a reminder to vote in this election, Linker and Ponnuru were asked to opine on the outcome of the midterm elections and what Democrats should be doing. Linker began his response with a warning about deceptive polling data and examples of how polling predictions have failed in the past.

“I will say that I believe in the conventional wisdom, probably the Democrats are going to win the House by some indeterminate margin and they will not win the Senate,” Linker said.

He expanded, stating that most polling is based on those voters who are expected to show up to the polls but that this could be incorrect if another group is more motivated due to controversial issues, such as the threat of immigration. Lastly, Linker suggested that the Democrats should divide and conquer by using the diversity of their party to get certain candidates elected based on the demographics of the district, such as a socially liberal candidate in New York or a culturally moderate candidate in the Midwest.

Ponnuru agreed with Linker that Democrats will win the House and even predicted that the House will be made up of 225 Democrats and 210 Republicans. He and Linker concurred that Democrats tend to live in highly populated areas, resulting in wasted popular votes, which ultimately benefits the Republican Party in presidential elections due to the Electoral College.

“A lot of the votes for Hillary Clinton were actually against Donald Trump,” Ponnuru said.

He explained how certain disadvantages that plague Democrats, like urban clustering and gerrymandering, could be fixed if the party would make a few ideological and style changes. He also noted that such a change would not take place in either party, coming back to the idea that each party believes that it already represents the public.

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