CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this article did not properly attribute the definition of a Blue Wave. The definition included in the article came from RealClearPolitics. The story has been updated with the attribution. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
Democrats in the General Assembly broke the Republicans’ long-held supermajority, but the shift wasn’t at the level expected, leading voters to see a Youth Wave instead of a Blue Wave.
Given that an midterm “wave” election is a loss of at least 30 seats for the incumbent presidents’ political party, there have been nine elections with those results since 1932, according to RealClearPolitics. According to unofficial results, this definition was not met Tuesday night.
FiveThirtyEight gave their final prediction midday Tuesday with the chance of Democrats winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives at 85.8 percent and Republicans keeping control of the U.S. Senate at 82 percent.
As of Wednesday at 1:03 a.m., Democrats won 200 seats, an addition of 24, in the U.S. House and 42 seats, a loss of 4, in the U.S. Senate. Democrats are projected to win at least 218 seats in the U.S. House.
Democrats also were able to win 20 gubernatorial elections, an addition of 5, while Republicans won 25, a loss of 5.
Skylar Teague, director of outreach for UNC College Republicans, said every election season, people want to say that there’s some sort of wave, and talking about waves is used to boost engagement.
“I think the Blue Wave is less than people expect – I don’t put a lot stock in one wave or another,” he said.
The last wave election occurred in 2010 when Republicans gained 63 U.S. House and 6 U.S. Senate seats. Before that, Democrats flipped the U.S. Congress with 31 U.S. House and U.S. Senate seats in 2008.
Martha Ribas, an attendee of the North Carolina Democratic Election Party, said Tuesday's election is very important for the next presidential election.
“It would be great if there’s a Blue Wave. The rest of the world is suffering because of President Trump, not just Americans,” she said. “For sure some kind of balance is needed in American politics, and also more moral and human values in your politics.”
Bill Rose from Raleigh, who recently changed from being a lifelong Republican to Democrat, said he switched based on the party’s values on inclusiveness and diversity. He said there were a lot of positive ideas in the party.
“I’m cautiously optimistic about a Blue Wave tonight,” he said. “I’m saddened that we have such a divided country right now, and I’m hoping the Democrats will have a blue tsunami with the goal of everyone coming back and working together.”
Charles Dingee, campaign manager for candidate Catherine Whiteford in N.C. House District 34, said from what he saw at polling places on Election Day, he didn’t think Democrats had as much turnout as they were expecting. He said he was involved in the Wake County polling places and the polling places were full of energized Republicans.
“If there’s a Blue Wave, it’ll just lead to gridlock – no laws being passed and nothing getting done in this country, which hurts everyone,” he said.
Catherine Whiteford, a political activist from Texas, lost her race with almost 32 percent of the votes and almost 99 percent of precincts reporting.
The General Assembly did not experience a Blue Wave — technically.
Democrats picked up 17 seats in the N.C. House and eight seats in the N.C. Senate.
The state constitution requires three-fifths in both chambers to override the governor’s vetoes. In past years, Republicans in the General Assembly have had a veto-proof majority. After this election, they have lost that large of a majority and will be subject to Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes.
Voters in Chapel Hill said they had seen a shift in demographics in the voting populations.
Arvind Sivashanmugam from Chapel Hill said he had seen a lot more Democrats and it’s usually the opposing groups that bond together.
“I don’t know if it’s because I’m at the end of my college career and people want to get involved, but a lot more young people are encouraged to vote,” he said.
Gray Rodgers from Concord said he thought there’s a stronger involvement of 18-to-21 year-old voters on college campuses.
“I’m hopeful that there’s going to be a wave turnout among young voters,” he said.
Henry Pehr from Cary said there’s been so much emphasis on going to the polls and voting.
“Obviously, there’s a wave of college-age kids coming out and voting,” he said. “I think a lot of the youth in this country have been fed up with the way government is acting.”
Jennifer York from Statesville said that she thought the wave is definitely among young people.
“I feel, in general, many young people are more progressive,” she said. “You’ll see a bigger change.”
Although the Blue Wave didn't deliver at the national level, the results of Tuesday's election will determine the future of politics in the state.
Aidan Bennett contributed reporting.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.