Coming Soon to the CGC: Election Watch Party

Students at Saint Louis University will be tuning in the night of the midterm elections to follow the race between McCaskill and her Republican opponent Josh Hawley.


Veteran Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill is fighting to retain her political standing in the Nov. 6 midterm election. The traditionally red state, which encountered a Republican sweep at every level of government during the 2016 election, contains two statewide Democratic officials – McCaskill is  one of them.

Students at Saint Louis University will be tuning in the night of the midterm elections to follow the race between McCaskill and her Republican opponent Josh Hawley. An “Election Night Watch Party” will be held at 7 p.m. in the Center for Global Citizenship.

The two opponents have primarily tackled economic and healthcare related issues, with health care being the top issue for Democrats by a wide margin. Republicans have prioritized discussions on tariffs and barriers to imports from neighboring countries.

The SLU College Democrats and College Republicans will be in attendance at the watch party in addition to Political Round Table, Green Billikens, Amnesty International, Muslim Student Association and other organizations. The College Democrats and College Republicans are not able to endorse a particular candidate, but they have been able to provide students with volunteer opportunities and internships – from interning for McCaskill and phone banking for Betsy Dirksen Londrigan to giving a pitch on Hawley’s campaign.

SLU hosted several watch parties in the early 2000s before Assistant Professor Steven Rogers began teaching. In 2016, Rogers proposed to Ellen Carnaghan, SLU professor and department chair, a revival to the parties, starting with the broadcast of the primary elections.

Rogers explained that the political science department hosted watch parties for the Iowa caucus, New Hampshire primaries and Super Tuesday, with approximately 200 students attending each event. After their successes, the department continued holding more watch parties in the fall of 2016 for the presidential debates and presidential election.

According to Rogers, the structure of the 2018 watch party will be similar to that of the 2016 parties. He said that this year, the party will have 10 different student groups, which will promote their student organizations. There will be tabling, where student groups can help other students become more politically involved at SLU, and presentations will be held by some of the participating groups and Rogers.

“We can see this regular pattern that the presidential party usually loses in the midterm elections,” Rogers said. “There are three competing theories as to why this happens: which voters are turning out, are voters upset with the president or are voters looking for a more moderate government. Those who are in their teens and 20s are least likely to turn out in elections.”

Rogers expressed the importance of political activism as the candidates’ decisions will largely impact the student sector – specifically education and how this education will be paid for with student loans.

Dylan McCloskey, student and member of College Republicans, expressed the importance of encouraging people to vote. “We try to give a positive light to the campaign, and [while campaigning], you might encounter someone who has a different view than you,” he said. “The main thing is making sure people get out to vote. Once you talk to others about policies, they will start researching political topics and become more informed. One educated vote is more important than 10 uneducated votes.”

Rogers and McCloskey alike encourage all students to attend the watch party to not only increase political savviness, but also mingle with others from different cultural backgrounds and political strongholds.

“Our voice matters and can have a powerful impact,” Paige Cook, College Democrats president, said. “Our healthcare, women’s rights, immigrant and refugee policy and safety are all at stake during this election.”