A blue wave, as predicted. Democrats took back the House, as predicted. GOP gained a few seats in the Senate, as predicted. Dems flipped several governorships, as predicted. And there were a few surprises, as predicted. Almost nothing happened last night that was outside the margin of error.
I like what Claire Malone wrote at 538 — Election Night Defied A Single Takeaway:
People like to understand things. It’s an earnest and charming quality of the human race. We like to flip to the back of the book to look at the answers. We like it when there’s a tidy way to summarize. One or two takeaways, please. It’s why Aesop’s fables continue to do so well.
Lately, Americans have looked for concise ways to name what ails us. “Divided” and “partisan” seem to be the words most commonly landed upon. Given that these are our adjectives of choice, it seems odd that anyone would expect some kind of clear answer about the mood and direction of the country from a single night. And yet that seems to be what many wanted out of the midterms this year. They didn’t get it.
If anything, the 2018 midterm elections were without a cohesive narrative. There was no overwhelming blue wave that served as a sharp rebuke to President Trump. The Democrats are projected to take control of the House of Representatives by a healthy seat margin, but Trump still found reason to celebrate; the Senate remains under Republican control.
Governors mansions in a number of states will change into Democratic hands, but in a number of high-profile contests the party fell short. A record number of women are headed to Congress, but several high-profile women incumbents were voted out of office. There was no single, stunning take-away to grant us clarity about the direction and mood of the country.
Instead, the election was an accurate reflection of where the country stands: existentially muddled, politically divided and historically engaged with its politics.
Democrats retained their Senate seats in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia — all states that Trump won in 2016 — and won back governor’s mansions in Illinois, Kansas and Michigan. In Wisconsin, a state that Hillary Clinton lost two years ago, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin held onto her seat and Republican Governor Scott Walker lost to Democrat Tony Evers. Democrats won the national popular vote by an estimated 7 points, no small margin.
But popular as they were nationally, Democrats still couldn’t pull off wins in high-profile races in states like Ohio and Florida, swing states that are the crown jewels on any party’s presidential map. (We’d be fools if we didn’t mention the lurking implications of 2020 in Tuesday’s results.) Ohio split its ticket, as it were, electing Republican Mike DeWine for governor even as it re-elected Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. It was a reminder of the challenges Democrats face in winning back white voters, particularly those without a college education. Candidate choice still seemed to matter. Preliminary exit polls indicate that Brown won over the key demographic of non-college educated white women, but that Cordray lost them.
In Florida, Republicans had a good night, defeating incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, and perhaps more surprisingly, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee. The race had always been tight, but narrative momentum seemed to be at Gillum’s back after his buzzed-about debate performance against Republican opponent Ron DeSantis. Gillum’s loss is freighted with more meaning than most, perhaps. As a black candidate in a purple state in the South, he proposed he could win with increased minority turnout as well as an appeal to Florida’s swing voters of all races. In the end, the math didn’t pan out.
In Georgia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — who could be the country’s first black female governor — proposed a similar path to victory, one by which registering and turning out minority voters in a red state could bring Democrats victory. As of this writing, Abrams trails by about 2 points, but she said she would not yet concede the close race.
But again, it’s not as simple as looking at who won and who lost. While Gillum and Abrams’s races didn’t fulfill liberal hopes in the southeast, felons regained the right to votein Florida, a massive victory for progressive activists. And in Texas, Republican Ted Cruz won his election against Democrat Beto O’Rourke, but only by less than 3 points, an astoundingly close result for the red state. (Cruz won his 2012 election by 16 points.)
Perhaps the single thing that we can say about Midterm Election Day 2018 is that America was paying attention. According to New York Times estimates, 114 million votes were cast in House races, up from the 83 million in the last midterm elections in 2014. This is unsurprising in some sense, given the way that politics has become ingrained in popular culture over the past three years. Americans live and breathe their politics now, though the breath can sometimes be labored and the life it brings is usually filled with more caustic takes than inspiring words.
Here’s another takeaway that she left out. Women. Over 100 women will start or return to the US House — a record — and they include the first Muslim women and the first Native Americans ever (both women). That’s cool.
Moving forward, state control is important in order to avoid (or fix) gerrymandering efforts by the GOP. In this sense, most states have a sufficient block.
Once again, @jaketapper is right: Donald Trump did NOTHING to expand his base. In fact, his base eroded last night, in the Midwest and the suburbs. Not sure why others are having a hard time with this.— Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh) November 7, 2018
In fact, even where Republicans won, there was a clear shift to the left. By a 3-to-1 margin, more districts shifted left that right compared to 2012.
Oh no. He’s at it again:
According to NBC News, Voters Nationwide Disapprove of the so-called Mueller Investigation (46%) more than they Approve (41%). You mean they are finally beginning to understand what a disgusting Witch Hunt, led by 17 Angry Democrats, is all about!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
Wounded ego alert….
This is both very Trump and truly wild. Trump is bitterly arguing, against all evidence, that House Republicans would have done better if they hadn't run away from him: "Peter Roskam didn't want the embrace. Erik Paulsen didn't want the embrace."— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 7, 2018
Takeaway of Trump's remarks so far: flippant, brutal even, toward Republicans who broke with him, and offering a few vague overtures to Pelosi and Dems.— Robert Costa (@costareports) November 7, 2018
"The Democrats will come to us with a plan" on infrastructure, etc., "and we'll negotiate."
"They can play that game but we can play it better," Trump says of oversight and investigations — suggesting he will deploy the Republican Senate to investigate Dems.— Eliana Johnson (@elianayjohnson) November 7, 2018
Trump, in the East Room, is now threatening Democrats with investigations if they investigate him.— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) November 7, 2018
"I could see it being extremely good for me politically because I think I'm better at that game than they are," Trump says, of Democrats investigating him.— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) November 7, 2018
Here's something novel: Trump says he won't work with House Dems on legislation unless they halt plans to investigate him. 'We're not doign both,' he vows— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) November 7, 2018
Retiring GOP Congressman minces no words (MOC = “members of Congress”):
Good morning. Let’s investigate some shit.— (((Seasonal Scaryname))) (@JoshMalina) November 7, 2018