Almost immediately after polls closed on Tuesday, the news was out: Mitch McConnell won re-election to the U.S. Senate.
And then as more national projections came out, it became clear the Republicans were going to win control of the Senate, causing a mix of disappointment and excitement among WKU students.
SGA President Nicki Taylor said that as a Democrat she was “upset” by the results.
“I even went to an Alison rally earlier in the year so it’s just sad to see her lose,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she thought the Democratic candidate Alison Grimes offered a better option for Kentucky’s agriculture and would provide greater service to Kentucky.
Republicans not only won the Senate, but also the largest majority in the House since World War II.
Head of the political science department, Saundra Ardrey said the election demonstrates a dissatisfaction of voters.
“What we are seeing is a discontentment among the electorate for both parties and their inability to work together,” Ardrey said.
SGA Speaker of the Senate Jay Todd Richey had a similar reaction. He said he was a Grimes supporter and was shocked to see McConnell was projected to win so quickly.
Richey said McConnell’s win had to do with low turnout during a midterm year.
“Generally more people turn out for presidential elections and it’s always various groups of people,” Richey said.
Sophomore SGA Senator Hunter Peay said he leans more toward the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. However, he also was not pleased to see McConnell win re-election, who Peay said is not fiscally conservative enough.
Peay said he voted for David Patterson, the Libertarian candidate, because he agreed with him on the issues.
“I voted my conscience and I voted my principles,” he said.
One potential plus for Richey is that Republicans winning the Senate may increase Democrats’ chances in 2016 for the presidency.
“If you have many Republicans in Congress and not much gets done then it will be portrayed very badly on their part,” Richey said.
Richey said he believes as Senate Majority Leader, McConnell will not push for a legislation students care about, such as reforming student loans or minimum wage.
“Personally I’m afraid for what is going to happen,” Richey said.
Ardrey said that McConnell’s resources and the fact that he was an incumbent made winning an uphill battle for Grimes. She also said his strategy of tying Grimes to Obama was more successful than Grimes’ attempts to go after McConnell’s record.
“That worked for a while because the polls had them neck and neck, but at some point you have to establish what you believe in,” Ardrey said. “She wasn’t as effective in doing that.”
On election night, Oregon and Washington D.C. voters also legalized the recreational use of marijuana, modeling Colorado and Washington. Ardrey said she believes this is part of a larger national trend.
“I think the time for recreational use of marijuana has come,” Ardrey said.
According to Ardrey, legalizing marijuana in Kentucky would be a positive for the state.
“Marijuana is the number one cash crop, and that would really help the state budget,” Ardrey said.
The legalization of marijuana would also ease the overpopulation of prisons, Ardrey said.
“A large portion of our prison population, especially among young disenfranchised minorities, are in prison because of marijuana,” Ardrey said.
In addition the federal elections, Kentucky also had many state and local elections as well, Richey pointed out.
Republicans were hoping to take over the Kentucky legislature for the first time in decades, but Democrats clung to a slim majority there.
“I think Kentucky is a pretty interesting state when we have two powerful Republican senators and we have a Democratic House and governor,” Richey said.
With huge problems to tackle in Obama’s final two years, Ardrey said the two parties have to find a way to address issues ranging from the economy to immigration.
“The message that was sent is that the American people are demanding the parties work together,” Ardrey said.
For Richey, seeing students civically engaged was still a big win for WKU.
“Even if I’m not 100 percent pleased with the outcome, I am happy to see students go out and vote,” Richey said.