Briar Opinions on the 2022 Midterms


Photo by Fauquier Times

Ryan Peele, Reporter

On Tuesday, Nov. 8th, pollsters and political analysts were proven wrong when a red wave failed across most of the country during the 2022 midterm elections. Poll analysis website FiveThirtyEight predicted that the Democratic Party would lose their already weak hold on Congress, with the Republican Party having a 59% chance of taking the majority in the Senate and an 84% chance to take the House of Representatives, with a 62% chance of them having thirteen seats more than the Democrats. However, as the results continue to come in, it appears that the Democrats have maintained control of the Senate after critical victories in Pennsylvania and Nevada, and will only lose the House by a small margin.

Locally, residents of Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, which encompasses all of Frederick, Clarke, and Loudoun Counties, as well as Manassas and Winchester, voted in a somewhat contentious race between the incumbent Democratic House Representative Jennifer Wexton and Republican candidate and Navy captain Hung Cao. 

At Briar Woods, many students were invested in this important election, especially the eighteen year old seniors who just gained the right to vote. 

On one side, Destiny King, a senior, not only supported the incumbent, stating that “Jennifer Wexton… better reflects [her] values.” but also was strongly opposed to the challenging candidate, with her saying that “Hung Cao is literally an idiot… his entire campaign was [that] he was in the military.” 

While there were many students who were passionate about the election, plenty of Briar Woods’ 12th grade population seemed apathetic about voting, with one anonymous senior saying, “I thought about registering to vote. I could’ve, because I’m 18, but I didn’t. Honestly, I’m gonna legitimately say it was out of laziness. [Wexton] does not make me passionate enough to go to the ballot box. I probably would’ve voted for Wexton, but I wasn’t inspired enough to vote for her.” 

Many young people seem to care little about the candidates and much of American politics overall, with the senior continuing to say that “I would say you’re either polarized or you’re settling for the party that seems a little more ideal to you.  January 6th was a big turning point for losing moderates in the Republican Party… [while] more moderates [are] getting upset with the left because… some people may want to blame some of the current inflation and war issues on the left and the Biden administration.” 

Despite Wexton’s decisive victory in the 10th District, Virginia by no means had a blue wave, with the Republican Party holding all of their current House of Representatives seats, as well as flipping a Democratic one in the commonwealth’s 2nd district. Gia Yoder, constituent of Virginia’s 6th district and President of the JMU College Democrats, was disappointed but not surprised by incumbent GOP representative Ben Cline’s victory over Democratic challenger Jennifer Lewis on election night, saying “[Cline’s] interests do not lie in representing the 6th district. He overturned the 2020 election. He spends more time with people like [Florida Representative] Matt Gaetz than he does speaking with his constituents. [The 6th District] has been a Republican stronghold for years, and any Democrat that runs here will be facing an uphill battle.” Despite the local Republican victory, Yoder still believed that the Democrats “had a lot to celebrate this [election] cycle. Even though Democrats lost the House, [Democrats] surprised the nation. [Democrats] did not lose a single state legislature, which is all but unheard of… all of the Democratic senators have won reelection.”

Overall, the mixed success for both Republicans and Democrats in the 2022 midterms have left both sides mostly content, but still yearning for a more decisive victory, wondering what their party could’ve done differently. If Republicans had made a shift back towards more moderate conservatism, or if Democrats had been more effective at passing legislation and managing the economy while they held Congress and the presidency, the outcome of this election could’ve been radically different. 

According to many indifferent Briar Woods high schoolers, however, having candidates that appealed to the youth would’ve been a considerable boon to either party, with Tufts University research finding that only 27% of Americans between 18-29 voted in these midterms, only a small fraction of a massive potential electorate.

 Until then, a significant population of eligible voters will remain untapped, with the anonymous Briar Woods senior saying that despite the intensity of politics in America, “None of the candidates inspired [him] enough to vote.”