Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, which was decided early Tuesday night, elicited mixed reactions from Murray State students.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell won his sixth term in resounding fashion with 56 percent of the vote, compared to less than 44 percent for Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes and 3 percent for Libertarian David Patterson.
Tuesday, voting booths opened at 5 a.m. and closed at 6 p.m. In this window, students voted for their political ideals and hoped for the success of their candidate.
By 7 p.m., news outlets had already named Mitch McConnell victorious. The night ended with a 56 percent lead for McConnell, defeating challenger Allison Grimes and Libertarian candidate David Patterson with 40 and 3 percent respectively.
Andrew Melton, sophomore from Crestwood, Ky., said he was disappointed with the outcome.
“The election will do nothing for Kentucky except perpetuate our state of being static, with nothing getting done,” Melton said. “What’s more, now everyone is going to look at Kentucky as the state with one of the biggest obstacles to progress.”
Melton said McConnell prevents progress from being made.
The man has been in office longer than I’ve been alive,” he said. “He may have had a good idea or two 30 years ago, but not now.”
Other students shared Melton’s dissatisfaction over the election. Zack Tkash, senior from Paducah, Ky., said a lack of student participation might have affected the outcome.
“People aren’t well-informed enough,” he said. “They think that you either make a wild guess or you just don’t vote at all.”
Sam Lavey, sophomore from Louisville, said even if the Democrats had come closer in unseating McConnell, it would not have changed anything.
“Life goes on here at Murray,” Lavey said. “I don’t think it’ll have any immediate effects on our school.”
Lavey said citizens have a right to abstain from voting, just as they have a right to vote.
“It’s their decision,” Lavey said. “I mean you always have that group who doesn’t participate. They shouldn’t be judged based upon their choices.”
Sara Gantz, from Irvin, Ky., said she considered the race as a paradigm of choosing between two evils.
“Looking at their commercials alone, all it is really is mudslinging, no one stated their platforms at all,” Gantz said. “Grimes and McConnell were more concerned with making each other look bad. It’s like choosing the lesser of two evils.”
There are some students who are optimistic with the dawn of a new political year. Alisha Kempher, freshman from Benton, Ky., said she had more hope for progress now that McConnell and the Republican Party will control the U.S. Senate.
Kempher said voting is a problem for the younger generation, which is more likely to be disenfranchised than older generations. She said some young voters do not complete their civic duty because they are not informed enough or simply think that their vote does not matter.
“I’m not sure how this will affect Kentucky or the University,” Kempher said. “I hope for the best but only the policies and decisions they make in time will tell.”
Desiree Isaac of the Murray State College Republicans said the election had several implications for Kentucky politics on the state and national level.
“McConnell’s strong win could lead to more Republicans winning at the state level, including the already closely-watched gubernatorial race set for next November,” Isaac said.
McConnell, after his victory, spoke of Grimes’ part in the election.
“Secretary Grimes ran a spirited campaign,” McConnell said. “She earned a lot of votes and she earned my respect. It took a lot of guts to take on a race like this.”
He said those who are underrepresented will be heard when he returns to Washington. McConnell said people cannot trust the current government because it imposes its view of the world on the others around it. He issued a direct challenge to President Barack Obama, saying he will not change any of his positions.
In her concession speech, Grimes said she hoped Congress had heard her campaign message.
“While tonight didn’t bring us the result that we had hoped for, this journey, the fight for you, it was worth it,” Grimes said. “I will continue to fight for the Commonwealth of Kentucky each and every day.”
Story by Teddy Martin, Contributing writer