WKU students, faculty discuss midterm election results

Tyler Prochazka

 One ingredient provided a platform for WKU students from different political persuasions to come together to discuss the midterm election outcome peacefully: pizza. 

The “Pizza and Politics” event evaluated the results of the 2014 election, with the discussion led by professors Scott Lasley and Joel Turner of the political science department.

Many believed the 2014 midterm election was seen as a big win for the Republican Party, but Lasley said both sides should not read too much into the results.


“A lot of times we analyze elections the week after and make sweeping conclusions,” Lasley said.

Based on historical trends, Lasley said the results were largely in line with “the narrative of the past several elections.”

The election again confirmed that the incumbency advantage is real, Lasley said.

“At the end of the day, there are only four or five senators that are going down,” Lasley said.

Having already won an election, many donors choose incumbents because “they want to bet on a winner,” Lasley said.

Turner pointed out that Democrats were unable to win over some of their core constituencies, like women.

“The ‘War on Women’ message fell flat,” Turner said.

In Kentucky, Lasley said the Democrats’ primary goal was not to get Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes elected, but rather to maintain control of the state legislature.

On the other hand, he said Republicans primary focus was on reelecting Sen. Mitch McConnell.

“Both Republicans and Democrats accomplished their goals (in Kentucky),” Lasley said.

McConnell ended up winning against Grimes by a 15 point margin, which was even larger than what both sides expected. Much of this was due to an Grimes’ inability to introduce herself to Kentucky, Lasley said.

“Tactically, Grimes made a big mistake: she never defined herself,” Lasley said.

There were many voters, though, that would vote for any candidate besides McConnell, Turner said.

“On some level, you could have put anybody on the ballot and they would have thought, ‘Okay, that’s not McConnell, so that’s who I’m voting for,’” Turner said.

Saundra Ardrey, head of the political science department, asked why Democrats did not spread the message to the electorate that the economy is improving.

“They know that people aren’t buying this message,” Turner said. “If they keep saying things are better, they seem out of touch.”

Miami senior Nefertiti Dukes asked why there was a “disconnect” between liberal ballot measures which often passed, like legalizing marijuana and increasing the minimum wage, and candidates that support these types of measures and still lost.

Turner said no candidate will “fill every single thing that you like” and so while voters supported specific measures, like increasing minimum wage, they did not necessarily support Democratic candidates.

Lasley said ultimately, one main factor in this election, and many elections, was the quality of the candidate.

“You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken excrement,” he said.