Daily Video

July 14, 2018

Monitoring the midterms: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other primary result indicators

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Some context before showing video:

Midterm elections will take place on Nov. 6, 2018. The Republican Party currently controls both houses of Congress. In the U.S. Senate, there are 35 seats that need to be filled. Democrats hold 26 of those seats and will need to gain 2 seats to take control of the Senate. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election; one of the parties must win 218 seats to gain control.

Before candidates from different parties face off at the polls this fall, they must first prove they are their own party’s favorite in the primaries, which take place in the months leading up to November. One story from June’s Democratic primaries that grabbed international headlines was that of 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset over 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley. Ocasio-Cortez could become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. June’s primaries also went well for candidates supported by President Donald Trump.

Key terms:

primaries, midterms, progressives, medicare for all, incumbent, Democratic Socialist, political ‘upset’, general election

Discussion questions:
  1. Essential question: What do the primaries teach us about America’s electoral process?
  2. Why was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s win over Rep. Joe Crowley seen as a major upset?
  3. Take a look at this NewsHour article, 28-year-old Latina ousts top Democrat and other takeaways from yesterday’s primaries. Why did voters favor Ocasio-Cortez? What strengths might she bring to the office? What steps would you take if you didn’t have years of political experience in office to prepare for the job?
  4. Media literacy question: Look up headlines of Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory from a few of these news outlets: Fox News, CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Politico and Slate. Do you see any differences in the language used in the headlines? If so, why might this be the case? How could reading just one news organization’s story affect your understanding of the issue?
To learn more, read the following articles:

Read the full transcript:

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Voters in seven states went to the polls yesterday in the latest test for both parties ahead of November’s midterms.

    Lisa Desjardins is back with this look at a major upset for one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the House of Representatives.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    I cannot put this into words.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was speechless after toppling Congressman Joe Crowley, the number four Democrat in the House, in the New York primary in Queens and the Bronx.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    I was born in a place where your zip code determines your destiny.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The 28-year-old Democratic socialist, who could become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, was a former organizer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and ran on a progressive platform of Medicare for all and shutting down ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    Our campaign was focused on just a laser-focused message of economic, social and racial dignity for working-class Americans. Even if you have never voted before, we are talking to you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Ten-term incumbent Crowley, who was considering a run for speaker of the House, immediately endorsed his opponent.

  • Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y.:

    At the end of the day, this district will be represented by a Democrat. And it’s the Democratic Party that’s going to lead this nation forward.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    On Capitol Hill, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed any questions of bigger troubles or battles inside the Democratic Party.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    Nobody’s district is representative of somebody else’s district. It’s just a sign of the vitality of our party. We’re not a rubber stamp.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    But President Trump said Crowley’s loss is a victory for him, writing on Twitter, “That is a big one that nobody saw happening. Perhaps he should have been nicer, and more respectful, to his president.”

    It was a very good night for Mr. Trump and his candidates all around. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, who campaigned with the president Monday, won a run-off for the Republican nomination.

  • Governor Henry McMaster:

    As President Trump says, we are going to keep on winning, winning, winning in South Carolina.


  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The president’s candidate on Staten Island, incumbent Dan Donovan, easily fended off a comeback bid by former Congressman Michael Grimm, who resigned his seat in 2015 after pleading guilty to felony tax fraud.

    And President Trump congratulated former adversary Mitt Romney, who won his party’s nomination for Utah’s Senate seat. The former GOP presidential nominee and Massachusetts governor delivered a softer message on one of the president’s hard-line issues.

  • Mitt Romney:

    We also welcome immigrants and refugees who come here legally. They add to the vitality of our great country.


  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The nation is now more than halfway through the midterm primary season, just four months until November’s elections.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

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