The 2014 Midterms in Review

We woke up this morning to the sun streaming through our windows and at first, it seemed as if it were just another ordinary Wednesday. Begrudgingly, we silenced our alarms and exited our beds. As our bare feet hit the frosty floor, we received an icy welcome from the November morning. Despite this bitter greeting, we brewed our coffee and retrieved today’s newspaper. Today’s headlines were shocking: a revolution occurred last night.
This revolution, of course, is one welcomed by Americans. Afterall, it is one they initiate. Yesterday, we were present at the polls. Today, we observe the impact. This pattern is one we observe every two years. As predictable as elections usually are, this one is quite remarkable. Many victories represented many ‘firsts’ for various groups. Iowa elected its first female congresswoman, West Virginia elected its first Latin American congressman, and Mia Love became the first African American Republican woman elected to congress. Here in Pennsylvania, we witnessed a new chapter in our state’s legacy. Historically, control over the governor’s mansion has alternated in party control every eight years, a pattern that dates back until 1947, but last night it was broken when the Democratic candidate, Governor-elect Tom Wolf, defeated Republican incumbent Governor Tom Corbett.

Traditionally, candidates running against incumbents are not expected to win, as they do not have the same advantages and resources. Oftentimes, they are unable financially compete with their opponents and do not possess the same degree of name recognition. Wolf’s own personal wealth, in conjunction with Governor Corbett’s own political fumblings, set the stage for a high-stakes election.
Many of the other unexpected champions of this election cycle faced different adversities such as race, sex, and geographic partisanship. These obstacles are further perpetuated by some of the traditional challenges of campaigning: viability, mobilization, and image. Campaign strategists must present their candidate in a way that not only pleases the electorate, but prompts them to take action. This cannot be achieved if potential voters do not believe a candidate has a realistic chance of winning. Thus, for underdogs, it is important to establish viability. Perhaps, an even greater problem than viability is mobilization. Campaigns must be designed to make potential voters realize that they have a vested interest in the election. If their candidates lose, they lose too. When it comes to election day, the victor is determined by supporters that take action.

Unfortunately for candidates, there is no guaranteed winning strategy. Victorious campaigns take many different forms and employ a large array of tactics. When it comes to igniting a revolution, such as the one that occurred last night, only one technique is certain: you must rally your base to lead the charge. Elections cannot be won without voters. Thus, candidates must make Election Day more than just a chilly Tuesday in November. The challenges of campaigns can only be conquered with the support of revolutionaries because, in the end, they are a simple contest. The candidate with the most supporters, wins.
Meghan Gary| Bravo Group | Pittsburgh
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