The Forks Estate Special Edition: Wrapping up the midterms

A look at what went into the elections and what we can take away

Podcast editor Tim Roeder sits down with State Press politics editor, Chris Scragg, and one of his senior reporters, Isaac Windes, to discuss the recent midterm elections. 

This was a record breaking year for voter turnout, partially due to the efforts of advocacy groups raising awareness and getting people registered to vote. Windes describes the results as, "... A mixed bag of results that did see the Democrats taking the House, but in the statewide elections, they didn't take a lot of the seats that they were hoping to." 

That being said, Arizona's partisanship in the Senate is still undecided as the Senate Race between Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally has yet to be called.

Tim Roeder: Welcome to a special edition of the Forks Estate. I'm the podcast editor, Tim Roeder. I'm here with State Press politics editor, Chris Scragg, and his senior reporter, Isaac Windes. How are you doing?

Chris Scragg: I'm good. How are you?

Tim Roeder: I'm good, thank you guys for joining me. The midterms have just concluded and there is a lot to unpack there. What exactly is happening in the midterms. You know what are the big things that transpired?

Chris Scragg: I think what a lot of people were looking for was how big the turnout was going to be. At least around ASU, and in a lot of counties in Arizona, the turnout was almost record breaking for the midterms.

Isaac Windes: It wasn't almost record breaking, it was record breaking in terms of ballots cast. That was definitely a thing that a lot of people were looking at, and what a lot of people thought that was going to mean was a blue wave so to speak. A sweep of Democratic candidates, which does happen a lot in midterm elections as a rebuke of whatever party is in power. We didn't exactly see that. We got a mixed bag of results that did see the Democrats taking the House, but in the statewide elections they didn't take a lot of the seats that they were hoping to.

Chris Scragg: There are several seats that are still being counted for, particularly the United States Senate seat with Kyrsten Sinema versus Martha McSally. As of the 7th at 6:52 p.m. it's still a race that has not been called for either candidate. I wanted to talk about engagement on campus. Have you seen more engagement In terms of like people getting people registered to vote and stuff like that?

Isaac Windes: Definitely for a midterm election for sure. There's been kind of a groundswell of efforts by these outside advocacy and activist organizations like NextGen, which is funded by Tom Steyer, really doing everything they can to get students registered to vote. In terms of the candidates coming out to campus, Kyrsten Sinema was here at least a few times handing out doughnuts at the front. She was at the Burton Barr library. Martha McSally showed up at the actual polling location, and then a lot of the other statewide candidates also came out and interacted directly with students. I would agree that there's definitely a lot of interaction with students. 

In terms of the Senate race, I would just say that is literally at 50-50 just about. According to an analysts that I talked to earlier today, Republican analyst Jason Rose, he said that often in these types of races, the late drop off of early vote ballots tend to lean Democratic, and those are the ones that still need to be counted. Really though it's anyone's ballgame. No one is celebrating yet, and that's the race that has been looked at the most in Arizona. Nationally it's also gotten a lot of money poured into it because it kind of will decide Arizona's partisanship in the Senate for the next six years. 

Tim Roeder: Aside from the normal seats that were up for grabs, there were propositions on the ballot. There's one about the money that is given to the students and there is one on renewable energy for Arizona. Do you guys have any thoughts on those?

Isaac Windes: Proposition 305 was about what are called ESAs, or empowerment scholarships accounts. Basically what that would have done, from my understanding, is divert public money into scholarship accounts that people could use for private, charter schools, or other schools. That money would then not go to the public school. It faced a lot of opposition from the proponents of Save Our Schools. We saw that defeated pretty resoundingly. There were definitely a lot of people out at the Tempe location talking to students in the line about why 305 wasn't good for schools or students, according to them.

Chris Scragg: I think one of the interesting ones though was prop 127, which was also being bankrolled by Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge fund manager. He's pushed for other Democratic causes as well. That proposition, if passed it would increase Arizona's energy portfolio to 50 percent renewable by 2030.

Isaac Windes: The one thing that I know from reporting on this that I found interesting is that it's the most expensive ballot proposition in Arizona's history. Something like $40 million were poured in on both sides. A lot of that coming from Arizona's largest utility provider, APS, which was against the proposition, and then Tom Steyer obviously for it. It had the most ad buys of a lot of the campaigns, whether it be candidates or propositions, but it failed quite significantly. Something that's interesting about that one is it had a basically identical initiative on the ballot in Nevada. That one passed.  

Tim Roeder: So do you think there's anything that the general populace is missing?

Isaac Windes: Well, I'd say when you're talking about propositions, the general public doesn't really have much of an understanding of what they are.

Chris Scragg: And they're complicated. They're there they're really hard to understand. I mean you know I had to read over several times to understand even though I've edited stories about these propositions. Trying to understand it straight from the text that that the state gives you, it's written in partial legalese is in a way and it takes a lot of work. Doing as much research, using outlets that explain these propositions in ways that people can understand, that's something that's important.

Isaac Windes: I mean if you're looking at the election analysis after, I think that the way that people are talking about it really tries to oversimplify the way the results came in and the impact they're having. It's kind of a nuanced change up and down the ballot. You're going to see a different dynamic and different battles. 

Chris Scragg: Looking at the midterm where the Republicans won after Obama, it's a similar thing. You went from one party having control for two years, to now there being a divided government. The ability of the federal government to be able to pass laws is going to be hindered quite significantly, especially with the strong views that both chambers and both parties have toward each other, and their large policy differences. 

Tim Roeder: Well I want to thank you guys both once again. This has been Chris Scragg and Isaac Windes -- our politics editor and our politics senior reporter. Thank you so much for talking with me.  

Chris Scragg: Thanks for having us. 

Tim Roeder: This has been a Forks Estate Special Edition, and we'll see you guys next time.  

Reach the Reporters:

Tim Roeder


Chris Scragg


Isaac Windes


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