VCU students shared their political opinions and reasons for leaning left in Tuesday’s election as Virginia flipped in favor of Democrats in the House and remained blue in the Senate.
“I think everyone wants to rush to the presidential elections, but we have to start small,” said sophomore Tevin Davis. “I voted for everything blue … because Donald Trump said that a vote for a Republican was a vote for him.”
Incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) will remain in the Senate after defeating chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors Corey Stewart (R-Va.). Incumbent Donald McEachin (D-Va., 4th District) also secured another term in the House after a victory over Republican Ryan McAdams of Charles City County.
In the hotly contested 7th District race, Democrat and former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger beat incumbent Republican Dave Brat by a narrow margin.
VCU political science professor John Aughenbaugh linked Spanberger’s victory to the national stage.
“With a Spanberger win, you see a huge shift in the representation of a congressional district that most political observers thought would remain conservative for a long, long time,” Aughenbaugh said. “It’s a district that was gerrymandered by the Republicans in the Virginia legislature to be a safe Republican seat.”
Tyra Hedgepeth, VCU senior, said she voted to “exercise her rights.” Gun laws were of particular importance to her and, as a health science major, affordable health care was also a key topic.
“I’ll be working in [career] fields where I see how expensive it is,” Hedgepeth said. “Making sure everyone is able to be covered is important to me.”
Sophomore Jennifer Carranza said she connected her vote to her race and family.
“As a Latino woman, it was really important to get my voice heard,” Carranza said, describing the current political climate as placing a target on her back. “I’m voting with my brother in mind — I vote so that [my family] can have a better future. I knew I needed to come out here and vote democratic and make sure we shift things in the right direction.”
Student Government Association President Vivek Kuruvilla also expressed his concern regarding minority representation in Congress.
“I [want to have] legislatures that care about my demographic as someone that’s a minority and a young voter,” Kuruvilla said.
NextGen America is a political action committee that endorsed Kaine for the Senate and canvassed extensively on campus for voter registration. Stationed between the Compass and the University Student Commons on Tuesday, the group provided voting information to passersby.
“We are by far the most progressive and most diverse generation yet,” said Isabella Dickens-Bowman, VCU campus organizer for NextGen. “It’s so exciting to see us coming out to vote in big numbers so we can elect progressive, diverse and younger candidates [who] represent us.”
Dickens-Bowman said the involvement of youth in politics is inherent.
“Are you paying too much for school? Do you want access to affordable health care for yourself and your family in the future? Do you want an environment that’s going to be clean?” Dickens-Bowman asked. “All of these things impact us, but folks don’t always see them as political.”
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