A screen lit up with an image of waves crashing Tuesday night in Pugh Hall.
Daniel Smith, the UF department of political science chair, clicked the next slide which read, “Blue wave.” Some students laughed, others waited for an explanation.
“There was a lot of talk about a blue wave coming this election,” he said. “We saw more of a red tide.”
Smith and Susan MacManus, a University of South Florida political science professor, took turns discussing the results of the 2018 midterm election to a crowd of about 100 students and residents.
The event was hosted by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, a nonpartisan civic engagement center, to help voters understand the midterm results, said spokesperson Shelby Taylor. Smith and MacManus were not paid to speak.
Many Floridians and political scientists believed the Black Lives Matter movement, Parkland shooting and teacher pay strikes would help Democrats win the gubernatorial and Senate races, Smith said. Instead, voters were left confused.
The results boiled down to Republicans voting at higher rates than Democrats, Smith said. In Sumter County, more than 80 percent of Republicans voted during the midterms.
“All I can say is that Republicans come out to vote on Election Day,” he said.
MacManus said she knew the Senate and gubernatorial races would be a toss-up. Florida is known for its close elections because of the state’s diverse and unpredictable demographics.
“Florida’s elections are always nail-biters,” she said.
Mark Werwitzer, an 18-year-old UF political science freshman, voted for the first time this election and was surprised by the results. He came to the event to hear what professionals had to say.
Werwitzer said he expected a Democratic wave this year but will have to wait to see if his generation can swing Florida blue in upcoming elections.
“I want to see what the future of Florida will be like,” he said.
Susan MacManus, 71, speaks at the 2018 Election Wrap Up event in Pugh Hall on Tuesday night. MacManus is a professor emeritus at the University of South Florida, as well as a member of the Bob Graham Center Council of Advisors. The event, which focused on analyzing many facets of the midterm election, was sponsored by the Bob Graham Center and the League of Women Voters of Alachua County/Gainesville. One thing that MacManus honed in on was the shift from elections being dominated by baby boomers to elections being more evenly split among generations. "We're seeing a generational transformation of Florida's electorate," said MacManus.