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Election night in America, November 6, 2018, The New York Times
On election night in America, for now, we defer to the articles below from The New York Times and The Washington Post, without further comment.
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Analysis, Nov. 6, 2018, The New York Times
The vaunted blue wave that Democrats had hoped for failed to fully materialize on Tuesday night, but the days of one-party control in Washington are now over. President Trump’s strength in rural areas kept the Senate in Republican control, but voters in urban and suburban districts across the country sent the White House a clear message: They want a check on the president.
When the new Congress is sworn in this January, Democrats will be able to curb Mr. Trump’s legislative ambitions and, armed with subpoena power, flex their oversight muscles to initiate investigations into allegations of misconduct by the president and his administration. If the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, finds substantial evidence of illegal conduct during the 2016 election, he now will have a receptive wing of government to pursue his findings.
“Tonight, the American people have demanded accountability from their government and sent a clear message of what they want from Congress,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat in line to be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said on Twitter. The president “may not like it, but he and his administration will be held accountable to our laws and to the American people.”
But after eight years in the minority, Democrats hoping to reclaim the White House in 2020 will also have to prove they are interested in governing — and temper the liberal ambitions of the party’s most ardent left-wingers.
[President Trump spent Tuesday night focusing on Republican victories in the Senate.]
“It’s like being the rescue team at an 88-car pileup: Who knows where to begin?” asked Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland. “I think the key principle is that we’ve got to make progress on the real problems of the country.”
Democratic leaders have already said they plan to use their first month in the House majority to advance sweeping changes to future campaign and ethics laws, including outlawing the gerrymandering of congressional districts and restoring key enforcement provisions to the Voting Rights Act. They also intend to press for infrastructure investment and legislation to control the climbing costs of prescription drugs — initiatives that will test whether Mr. Trump is willing to work with them.
Those measures, they believe, will be broadly popular. An ebullient Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader who now hopes to be its next speaker, pledged to “work for solutions that bring us together, because we have all had enough of division.”
But without overwhelming numbers, Democrats will not have the strength to push many of the initiatives their left flank ran on: a single-payer health care system, boldly expanded college access and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that’s at least reined in.
Democrats will also have to balance legislative ambitions with their efforts to satisfy the desires of their base to investigate the president. That could lead to gridlock.
Midterm elections are always a referendum on the president, and never more so than in 2018, when Mr. Trump told voters across the country that he was on the ballot. Historically, the party out of power picks up seats in the first midterm of a presidency, and Democrats followed that pattern this year.
Unlike the midterms of 2006, when President George W. Bush declared that Democrats had delivered “a thumping,” or 2010, when President Barack Obama described Republicans’ victory as “a shellacking,” the Democrats did not score an overwhelming victory Tuesday night. Republicans are likely to expand their majority in the Senate, and Democrats lost some governorships that they badly wanted, especially in Ohio and Florida.
But they do have a lot to celebrate. Democrats not only won the districts they were favored in, but locked up many where they were not. In New York, Max Rose, a health care executive and Army veteran, ousted Representative Dan Donovan, the only Republican member of New York City’s congressional delegation, in a race that analysts had said leaned Republican.
In Texas, Democrat Colin Allred, a former N.F.L. player and civil rights lawyer, defeated the incumbent Republican, Pete Sessions. In Illinois, Lauren Underwood beat Representative Randy Hultgren, a Republican who won by 19 points in 2016.
And in Virginia, Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former C.I.A. official, unseated Representative Dave Brat, a Tea Party darling who himself scored a massive upset four years ago when he defeated his predecessor, Eric Cantor, the Republican leader, in a Republican primary.
In a year when Mr. Trump put racial divisiveness on the ballot, Democrats ran and won with a diverse set of candidates who are infusing the party with new energy. Many are from the party’s progressive wing. Newcomers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist from New York, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts will almost certainly take the lead in pressing for a liberal agenda.
Democratic leaders plan to satisfy those demands by using their newfound majority to push through long-stalled initiatives that they say have broad support within the electorate. High on their list of priorities is gun safety legislation, legislation to offer a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented young people known as Dreamers, and a bill to extend broad civil rights protections to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
At the same time, Democrats must be careful not to overreach. Progressives will almost certainly clamor for Mr. Trump’s impeachment — a push that Democratic leaders have indicated that they will resist, at least until Mr. Mueller releases his findings.
“Everybody understands that we have to choose our battles very carefully now,” Mr. Raskin said. “We have to make sure that we are advancing a common sense majority platform that America wants, and let’s hope that we can bring Republicans aboard with us.”
That may be overly optimistic, especially with Republicans in control of the Senate. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has shown little inclination to cooperate with Democrats, and is unlikely to do so without a nudge from Mr. Trump. And Mr. Trump himself may be in no mood to cooperate once Democrats start demanding documents — including, perhaps, the president’s tax returns.
Mr. Trump is already anticipating as much — and gave a hint earlier this week of how he will react to Democrats’ demands.
“I don’t care,” he told reporters. “They can do whatever they want and I can do whatever I want.”
For starters, pick policy battles wisely.
By The Editorial Board, Nov. 7, 2018, The New York Times
With the House of Representatives in Democrats’ control, the next two years will give them the opportunity to show that there’s a better model of legislating, that Congress is capable of doing more for Americans than cutting taxes for the wealthy and menacing everyone else’s health care. Now and again Democratic leaders may need to play constitutional hardball — and they’ll have a chance to do it in a more constructive fashion than Mitch McConnell and his team, who have dominated Congress since 2014.
Even as Democratic House members are picking the confetti from their hair, one thought should be foremost in their minds: How do they avoid screwing things up?
First up: Pick policy battles wisely.
For the midterms, Democrats adopted a trio of policy goals: lowering health care costs, creating jobs by investing in infrastructure, and cleaning up politics via a comprehensive reform package that would tighten ethics laws and shore up the integrity of our electoral system. These are popular causes with bipartisan appeal.
They are also causes for which the president has explicitly expressed his own enthusiasm, whether real or feigned. This gives Democrats the chance to press President Trump about whether he is interested in making progress on his stated goals or is a hypocrite intent on waging partisan trench warfare for the remainder of his term.
First up on the Democrats’ agenda is expected to be the reform package. But they also plan to move quickly to address the plight of the Dreamers, some 700,000 immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children and granted protection from deportation by President Barack Obama. Huge majorities of Americans support letting the Dreamers stay. Finding a compromise path with Mr. Trump would be good policy and good politics.
Of course, even if the president is interested in chalking up a few bipartisan wins, the Republican Senate is unlikely to play along. There’s nothing wrong with Democrats pursuing legislation, such as to raise the minimum wage, that fills out their governing priorities even if, for now, it does little more than clarify the contrasts between their priorities and their opposition’s.
Democrats will theoretically have the power to set the agenda, but they will still be contending with a Republican Senate leader who takes pride in obstructionism for partisan gain. (See: Merrick Garland.) Managing expectations will be vital, and scoring policy victories will require finding the right pressure points. If Democrats can find an issue or two — like spending to fix bridges and tunnels — that will put Republican lawmakers on the opposite side from the president, all the better. As Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s mayor and a seasoned Democratic street fighter, observed, “Part of politics is unifying your team and dividing the other.”
Avoid the “I” word for now.
Impeachment is neither a sensible nor a winning issue to open with. Even many Americans who dislike Mr. Trump will, absent overwhelming evidence of impeachable offenses, balk at efforts to remove a sitting president. (Polls show the percentage of support for impeachment ranging from the high 30s to the high 40s.) Just ask former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose rabid push to bring down President Bill Clinton led to electoral disaster for the Republicans in the 1998 midterms, resulting in Mr. Gingrich being driven from leadership by his own members.
Democrats would do well to wait and see if the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, turns up high crimes and misdemeanors before deciding whether to pursue the painful and divisive path of impeachment. If so, they’ll want to bring along at least some of their Republican colleagues.
Don’t go crazy with the subpoenas.
It has been a long two years for Democrats, watching Republicans fail to check Trumpian excesses. Which means the new majority might be tempted to overreach and, like Mr. Gingrich’s self-styled revolutionaries, wind up coming across as more partisan and prurient than public-spirited. Investigations should be strategic and methodical and clearly in the public interest — for instance, looking into corruption among cabinet officials or waste of taxpayer dollars, rather than targeting more lascivious matters, like hush-money payments to former mistresses.
The trick will be finding the right balance in both tone and topic. Many Trump-hating Democrats might be in the mood for payback, but most Americans could easily be turned off by overt political games. And, let’s not forget, this is ultimately not about scoring points — Americans deserve better from their government.
The topic of Mr. Trump’s tax returns will be especially ticklish. The president’s refusal to follow his predecessors’ example and release such basic information raises too many questions about conflicts of interest to ignore. But things could get ugly. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has the right to request a copy, at which point the White House must decide if it wants to mount a legal challenge. Democrats need to be ready to make a cogent case — persuasive to the public as well as the courts — for why Mr. Trump’s taxes are a matter of critical concern.
For now, Democratic representatives are making properly judicious noises about oversight. They are holding meetings among themselves to determine which issues should be priorities and how to avoid overlap among the committees. But once the new chairmen take over, the leadership will need a firm hand to minimize the wilding.
Groom the party’s next leaders.
The widespread assumption in Democratic circles is that Nancy Pelosi will reclaim the speaker’s gavel. Practically speaking, this may be for the best, but even Ms. Pelosi has begun referring to herself as a “transitional” leader.
After 16 years as the House Democratic leader, Ms. Pelosi comes with a truckload of baggage, and a growing contingent within her own party feels it is time for a generational overhaul. But the reality is that she has no obvious successor. Her two deputies, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn, offer no fresher blood. Her presumed heir, Joseph Crowley, is on his way out the door, having lost his seat in the primary election. And while plenty of hungry younger members are eyeing the post, none is seen as having the mix of experience, savvy and grit needed to steer the caucus — which will feature a large, diverse freshman class — through what promises to be a wild two years.
Love her or hate her, nobody herds the cats better than Ms. Pelosi.
That said, the Democratic leadership is staler than week-old toast. And while victory tends to cool intracaucus griping, if Ms. Pelosi becomes speaker, she owes it to the institution and her colleagues to set about raising a new generation of leaders, helping prepare such up-and-comers as Cheri Bustos, Hakeem Jeffries, Linda Sánchez, Ruben Gallego, Joseph Kennedy III, Ben Ray Luján, Eric Swalwell and Seth Moulton, among others.
Given the dismal example set so far by President Trump, Democratic leaders now have a political opportunity, and also a heavy responsibility. Winning the House is one thing. Restoring some sanity to American politics and a sense of higher, common purpose to American governance is yet another.
By Jill Filipovic, Contributing Opinion Writer. Nov. 7, 2018, The New York Times
Watching anti-Trump female candidates win is exciting, but I’m worried about all they’re being asked to do.
Enormous turnout. A record number of women running — and winning, some of them in squeak-out victories unseating incumbents and turning red districts blue. Mikie Sherrill, who talked about her time as a Navy pilot and mother of four on the campaign trail, won in New Jersey. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger both won in Virginia. Lauren Underwood won in Illinois. In the Kansas governor’s race, Laura Kelly beat Kris Kobach, one of the nation’s leading architects in voter suppression.
A significant number of women of color ran for office this year — and though it looks like Stacey Abrams is not going to win in Georgia, after a long fight not just for voters, but over voter suppression — many of these candidates won. Some claimed victory with small, mostly-female campaign staffs. All of them did it with the energy of female voters, many of whom said they were disgusted by President Trump and the chauvinistic shenanigans of our male-dominated White House and Congress.
Watching these women win has been a salve on a festering two-year-old wound, as a president who ran on misogyny and racism used his platform to amplify that bigotry. This was a tough election, and while Democrats didn’t take the Senate and many high-profile candidates lost, female candidates did remarkably well. The numbers are still being tallied, but we may, for the first time ever, have 100 women in the House. Texas will send a Latina woman to Congress for the first time — actually, two women. The nation will send two Native American women to Congress, a first as well.
It is exhilarating and remarkable to see so many women succeed against long odds, and heartening to see so many take their place as “firsts” in what has never been a truly representational democracy.
But I am worried, too. The women are here, and the expectation is that they will do what women so often do: act as a cleanup crew.
The election results were not entirely the stuff of feminist pink-wave dreams. In addition to Ms. Abrams’s contest, Claire McCaskill and Heidi Heitkamp did not hold on to their Senate seats. Several high-profile male candidates who enjoyed significant female support (and female labor on the campaign trail) also lost, including, most notably, Andrew Gillum and Beto O’Rourke. Republican women also claimed some victories, of course. Marsha Blackburn, whose campaign hinged on her opposition to abortion rights and descended into racist fear-mongering, won in Tennessee. Kristi Noem is leading in the South Dakota governor’s race.
For all of the people who turned out to vote to send a message that President Trump does not represent the best of America, many other Trump loyalists sent the message that the president does indeed represent their America: Angry about a more inclusive nation, nostalgic for a past when white men had a monopoly on power and the rest of us knew our place.
The progressive women who ran in 2018 — victors or not — laid their claim to their country. Many of them did so in reaction to President Trump, many out of a sense of obligation to fix what is so clearly broken, and many from a place of newfound confidence, also perversely bolstered by the president. Mr. Trump’s win “showed you that anyone can do this,” one young Republican woman who was considering running for office told me last year.
When they take their seats, though, they will face a different set of expectations from our rule-breaking president, and even from their male colleagues.
In business, researchers talk about the glass cliff: the fact that women end up elevated into leadership roles in times of crisis, making success a long shot. When many of those women fail to right a ship that someone else sunk, they end up shouldering the blame.
It’s an unparalleled good thing that so many women ran for office this year, and that so many women worked and volunteered on campaigns. Canvassers and journalists across the country noted the strength of female Democratic enthusiasm, and pollsters backed it up.
The narratives around who lost and why will almost certainly touch on identity, questioning whether candidates were too “identity-focused” by virtue of recognizing that they were not white men, and their lives, experiences and priorities were different. This simplistic read seems destined to overshadow more nuanced takes on how sexism and racism shape our perceptions, preferences and behaviors. It also ignores a stunning reality: Women made the blue wave.
If the post-mortem will be undoubtedly tough on the women who lost, the coming years won’t be much easier for the women who won. There is a perception that we need more female leaders not just because a representative democracy is a fairer democracy, but because women might just be better at the things our current leaders lack — communication, collaboration, the ability to cool one’s Twitter fingers and restore a bit of integrity to politics. There is an expectation that the Democratic women elected Tuesday will make real change and do what they promised: take on President Trump, be advocates for their communities, make our national policies as representative as our country.
The problem is that they haven’t really been given the tools to do it. Republicans maintain control of the Senate. They have a leader in the White House who says he will do whatever he wants.
In politics and in business, research shows that women are punished for being seen as grandstanding or self-promoting. That leaves female politicians without a crucial advocacy and negotiation tool. And more eyes will be on female legislators, because minorities in any room are inevitably more visible. The women who won on Tuesday night, then, face the monumental task of cleaning up our current mess, one made, for the most part, by men — without taking credit for their efforts.
The real story of this election, though, is not what women have or haven’t done, or what we will or won’t do; it’s another stage in the long dance between disaster and progress that has animated gains in civil rights and women’s rights since our country’s founding. The disastrous, proto-authoritarian presidency of Donald Trump came to be because a black man occupied the office before him, and then a woman challenged him; Mr. Trump’s presidency also inspired many women to run for office; his presidency is also such a crisis that a lot of women actually won. These victories do not work in straight lines, and they are rarely total.
Once they are in office, our female legislators will sometimes disappoint us, just as men do. They will sometimes be astoundingly courageous, just as men are. Many of them will probably work harder and ask for less credit than their colleagues — not something men often do. The reality is that even with all of these female victories, women still make up less than a quarter of the House. We can look at this new Congress and see more women and people of color dotting the long-monochrome landscape of overwhelmingly white, mostly-male faces, and recognize that progress has come, fragile as it may be. And we can look at those same faces and see all of the ways in which our American representatives do not quite yet represent all of what America is.
By Pillip Rucker, Matt Viser, Anne Gearan and David A. Fahrenthold, November 7, The Washington Post
Democrats claimed control of the House late Tuesday and picked up at least seven governorships, but Republicans were poised to expand their majority in the Senate, delivering a split verdict in the first national referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency.
The most expensive and consequential midterm elections in modern times came to a dramatic finish that underscored the nation’s deep polarization, but fell short of delivering a sweeping repudiation of Trump that Democrats had hoped would put an exclamation point on the “resistance” movement.
Trump’s racially charged warnings about illegal immigrants and demonization of Democrats appeared to mobilize enough Republican voters to withstand the “blue wave” the party once feared.
The president helped Republicans win hotly contested Senate races in Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, and proclaimed the election’s outcome a “tremendous success.” Republicans held their grip throughout the South and in rural and exurban areas.
But Democrats — propelled by a rejection of Trumpism in the nation’s suburbs, and from women and minority voters especially — notched victories in areas that just two years ago helped send Trump to the White House.
Democrats performed well across much of the upper Midwest and even in ruby-red Kansas, where Laura Kelly was elected governor over the president’s handpicked candidate, Kris Kobach. In Wisconsin, Democrat Tony Evers bested Gov. Scott Walker, once a Republican star who ran for president in 2016. Walker survived a hard-fought recall vote in 2012, and was reelected in 2014, only to be denied a third term by the state schools superintendent.
Incumbent Republicans fell in an array of suburban House districts, including the one held by House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions in the Dallas area. And in West Virginia— where Trump is wildly popular and campaigned heavily for Republicans — the reelection of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III delivered a personal blow to the president.
Returns early Wednesday showed Democrats poised to pick up more than the 23 House seats they needed to gain a foothold in Congress from which to counter Trump. Democrats were projected to flip at least 29 districts currently held by the GOP, while they were on track to surrender only a few seats in the chamber. With power in Washington divided, House Democrats are likely to try to block the president’s agenda and use their subpoena power to investigate him and his administration.
“Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who is poised to reclaim the speaker’s gavel she lost eight years ago.
The Democratic victory, she said, “is about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration,” and a check on Senate Republicans.
The party’s new House majority was propelled by a record number of women candidates. Women currently hold 84 House seats, but that share is projected to expand to 100 or more when all results are tallied. Across the country, 277 women were on the ballot Tuesday for Congress and governorships, an unprecedented number that included 210 House candidates.
But Democrats were disappointed elsewhere. Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri were defeated, while Sen. Bill Nelson’s reelection in Florida appeared in doubt. Republican Marsha Blackburn won the open Senate seat in Tennessee, which Democrats had hoped would slide into their column.
Democrats did pick up a seat in Nevada, where Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen prevailed over Sen. Dean Heller, the Republican incumbent. The governor’s mansion in Nevada is also set to change hands, as Republican Adam Laxalt conceded to Democrat Steve Sisolak, who is poised to replace the term-limited Brian Sandoval.
Competitive Senate races in Arizona and Montana were too close to call.
Two of the liberal movement’s greatest hopes, Democrats Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum, struggled to overcome some of the most overt racial attacks since the civil rights era and make history as the first black governors in Georgia and Florida, respectively.
Gillum conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally, while the Georgia race was too close to call. Early Wednesday morning, Abrams told supporters she would not concede to Republican Brian Kemp and warned that their right to vote was on the line.
“In a civilized nation, the machinery of democracy should work for everyone, everywhere,” Abrams said, alluding to complaintsabout ballot access and election fairness that have marked her divisive contest with Kemp, who oversees elections as Georgia’s secretary of state. “I’m not going to name names, but some have worked hard to take our voices away.”
Another Democratic star, Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, lost his spirited challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz (R) despite raising record sums of money and attracting grass-roots support throughout the country.
“All the money in the world was no match for the good people of Texas and the hardworking men and women across our state,” Cruz said in his victory speech.
Midterm elections traditionally are referendums on the party in power, but Trump sought to ensure that this one would be a referendum on his presidency. He told crowds to vote as if he were atop the ballot, warning that his agenda and political movement were at risk, and he made himself the central force with an overwhelming cascade of speeches, media interviews and tweets.
The president returned to his 2016 campaign playbook, delivering fiery speeches that drew massive and enthusiastic crowds but contained a breathtaking barrage of falsehoods, invective and demagoguery. Describing himself in the closing weeks as a “nationalist,” Trump made a caravan of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the United States a dominant theme.
The Senate results underscored just how much the Republican Party has morphed into the party of Trump. The incoming freshman class of Republicans is made up largely of Trump allies — including Mike Braun in Indiana, Josh Hawley in Missouri and Kevin Cramer in North Dakota — who campaigned effectively as rubber stamps for the president’s agenda and owe their new jobs, at least in part, to his energetic campaigning on their behalf.
“Without him, I don’t think we would have had the night we had,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has transformed himself from one of the president’s sharpest critics into one of his most stalwart defenders, said on Fox News.
An exception is Mitt Romney, who handily won his race for the open Senate seat in Utah, marking a return to the national stage for the party’s 2012 presidential nominee who in 2016 denounced Trump as a “con man” and a “fraud.” Following the death of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and the retirements of Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.), Romney is poised to become the leading GOP counterweight to Trump on Capitol Hill, if he chooses to stand up to the president.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, becomes the first politician in 173 years to serve as governor of one state and then represent another in the Senate. The last to accomplish the feat was Sam Houston, who was Tennessee governor before being elected to the Senate from Texas.
Tuesday’s results were set to transform the House, not only in partisan makeup but also in gender, age and ethnicity. The night marked a series of firsts. Ilhan Omar in Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib in Michigan will become the first Muslim women in the House. Sharice Davids in Kansas and Deb Haaland in New Mexico will become the first Native American women in the chamber. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old from New York, became the youngest woman elected to Congress.
They were part of a wave of female candidates on the Democratic side, including Jennifer Wexton, who easily unseated Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) in a closely watched race in Northern Virginia, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who narrowly defeated Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R) in South Florida.
“This resistance began with women and it is being led by women tonight,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who easily won reelection and is widely expected to run for president in 2020.
Democrat Jared Polis in Colorado became the first openly gay man elected governor, while Democrat Janet Mills became the first female governor of Maineand Republican Kristi L. Noem will be the first female governor of South Dakota.
Rep. Mia Love, who was the sole black Republican woman in Congress, was trailing in Utah to Democrat Ben McAdams. Republicans were hoping that Young Kim, a Korean American woman, would win her California race to give the party some additional diversity.
Republican-held districts that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 provided the backbone of the Democratic efforts to win the House majority. Democratic challengers triumphed in a number of suburban areas, defeating Republican Reps. Mike Coffman in suburban Denver, Kevin Yoder in the Kansas City area and David Brat in the Richmond suburbs, among others.
But the Democratic momentum was not strong enough to carry some prized recruits over the finish line. Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, who attracted significant outside funding, lost to Rep. Andy Barr (R) in Kentucky.
The midterm elections had the energy of a presidential contest in their closing days, with Trump making himself the central figure and hoping to buck the historical trend of major losses for the president’s party in the first midterm vote.
In an all-out push to preserve Republican congressional majorities, Trump dashed from one red state to the next, urging his legions of supporters that he calls “the silent majority” to rush to the polls as if he were on the ballot.
In some ways, the outcome was eerily similar to that of 2016, with late polls overestimating the Democratic advantage in enthusiasm and Republicans showing unanticipated resilience thanks in part to Trump’s incendiary rhetoric and focus on nativist themes.
Racial tensions that had been simmering beneath the surface for years came to a boil in the final weeks of the campaign. Robo-calls in Georgia featured a voice impersonating Oprah Winfrey and calling Abrams “a poor man’s Aunt Jemima.” In Florida, robo-calls mimicked Gillum as jungle sounds and chimpanzee noises were heard in the background.
Trump called Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, “not equipped” and Abrams, a leader in the state legislature, “not qualified” to be governors. And Monday, all the major television networks rejected a Trump campaign advertisement about immigration, calling it offensive.
The racial overtones put that explosive form of politics on the ballot, with major stakes for Republicans. The party of Lincoln is now overwhelmingly white, while Democrats have a much more multiethnic coalition that represents the direction the country’s demographics are heading.
Trump closed the campaign on an exceptionally dark note, stoking long-standing national divides on race and culture and painting an apocalyptic and misleading vision of America under Democratic control as he barnstormed key Senate battlegrounds.
Rather than center his closing argument on the country’s robust economic growth, Trump elected to highlight divisive nativist themes in a strategic gamble to energize his conservative base voters.
Because of geographic fate, Democrats always faced an uphill climb in winning the two seats they needed to reclaim the Senate majority. A third of the nation’s senators were up for reelection, including 10 Democratic incumbents running in states that Trump carried in 2016, many of them overwhelmingly. This year’s map gave Republicans the clear advantage of running in conservative states where they had won for decades.
An outlier was Manchin, who secured reelection in West Virginia, which Trump won by 42 percentage points in 2016. He was helped by the independent profile he had cultivated back home, having previously served as governor and sometimes crossing the aisle to vote with Republicans. Manchin was the lone Democrat to vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh last month.
“We made history tonight,” Manchin said with a hoarse voice as he declared victory. “Nobody in the United States has ever won in a state that the president in the previous election won by 42 points in the opposite party. Never happened, never happened.”
In Ohio, another state Trump carried two years ago, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) cruised to reelection and cast his victory as a road map for Democrats to reclaim the industrial Midwest, though Republican Mike DeWine won the governorship there.
In two other Midwestern states that Trump won — Wisconsin and Michigan — Democrats fared better than they did in 2016. In Wisconsin, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) was reelected. And in Michigan, Sen. Debbie Stabenow won reelection and Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was elected governor.
But Democrats failed to win the governorships in a pair of deep-blue states. Republican Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts were reelected resoundingly.
Meanwhile, voters in red states demonstrated notable willingness to back progressive policies, as Arkansas and Missouri voted for hikes in the minimum wage. Missouri voters also moved to legalize medical marijuana.
Read more coverage:
Dudley Althaus in San Antonio; Robert Moore in El Paso; Torey Van Oot in Minneapolis; Sonam Vashi in Snellville, Ga.; and Philip Bump, Scott Clement, Amy Gardner, Emily Guskin, Paul Kane, Beth Reinhard and Elise Viebeck in Washington contributed to this report.
By Editorial Board, The Washington Post, November 7, 2018
THE DEMOCRATS’ return to control over the House of Representatives is much more than a victory for one party. It is a sign of health for American democracy.
Distrustful of untrammeled majorities, the authors of the Constitution favored checks and balances, including, crucially, the check that the legislative branch might place upon the executive. Over the past two years, the Republican majorities in the House and Senate have failed to exercise reasonable oversight. Now the constitutional system has a fresh chance to work as intended.
The Democratic victory is also a sign of political health, to the extent it is a form of pushback against the excesses, rhetorical and in terms of policy, committed by the Trump administration and propounded by President Trump during this fall’s campaign. Turning against the dominant party in Washington even in a moment of economic prosperity, voters from Key West to Kansas refused to accept the continued degradation of their nation’s political culture. Republicans retained control of the Senate, where the map this year favored their defense. But voters nationwide refused Mr. Trump’s invitation to vote on the basis of fear of immigrants; they did not respond to his depiction of his opposition as dangerous enemies.
Now the House will be in a position to investigate any number of potential administration transgressions and demand accountability: the awful separation of migrant children from their parents; the dubious decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census; the president’s harassment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.
The new majority also has an opportunity to offer a positive legislative agenda. The Democrats achieved their victory Tuesday night in large part by promising to protect health-care coverage, especially for Americans with preexisting conditions. Though effective in winning over moderate voters, the campaign did not establish a clear mandate for much beyond that — eminently valid — objective. And of course, even if the Democrats set forth a list of specific proposals for the House, before or after Election Day, the Senate and Mr. Trump’s veto pen could block it.
Still, the party can outline an alternative policy direction for the country. It can begin with measures to shore up the Affordable Care Act but then move to reforms of federal gun laws. Where the Republican majority has denied science, the Democrats can offer an approach to climate change. They can propose relief to the “dreamers” and, ideally, other undocumented immigrants, along with generous but not unlimited opportunities for future legal immigration. They should propose to restore the United States to its rightful place as a welcomer of refugees; to end the disgraceful denial of congressional representation to citizens in the District of Columbia; to repeal the most egregious giveaways to the rich in the 2017 tax bill.
Tuesday was a good day for Democrats. It may also be a good day for Republicans, if they take the lessons of their House defeat to heart and reconsider the devil’s bargain they have made with Mr. Trump. Indeed, if the results help lead to a reemergence of that party’s better angels, then it will have been good day for America as a whole.
By Karen Tumulty, Columnist, Opinion November 7, 2018
One after another, they won across the map.
Democrat Laura Kelly was elected governor of ruby-red Kansas. Four Democratic women — Madeleine Dean, Mary Scanlon, Christina Houlahan and Susan Wild — will join what had been an all-male congressional delegation from Pennsylvania. Former Navy helicopter pilot Rebecca Michelle “Mikie” Sherrill flipped New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District from red to blue.
Texas elected its first Latinas to Congress: State Sen. Sylvia Garcia of Houston and former El Paso County judge Veronica Escobar. Congress will also have its first two Native American women: Democrats Debra Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas.
“We were hoping we would be able to make a real difference,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List, which recruits and raises money for pro-choice candidates. “We pushed hard and played in places that were real stretches.”
All of this, by the time it happened, was hardly a surprise. Women were running this year in record numbers at every level of the ballot.
And they are making themselves felt in politics in other ways, as well. Nearly every poll shows that the gender gap has become a chasm. The face of resistance in the Trump era has truly been a female one, starting with the massive protest marchesthey staged the day after President Trump’s inauguration, in cities and towns throughout the nation. They are giving more to candidates than ever before. And the #MeToo movement has added another impetus.
This has been largely a Democratic phenomenon. In fact, there are likely to be fewer Republican women in the House next January than there are now. But the GOP’s female candidates also made history in some places on Tuesday. Among them was Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who was the first woman from Tennessee ever to be elected to the Senate.
A Washington Post-Schar School poll of battleground district voters showed women also took different priorities into the voting booth on Tuesday. By 14 percentage points, they were more likely than men to name health care as one of the top two issues in determining their votes. The economy, meanwhile, was a less important factor to women: Only 30 percent named it as one of their top two priorities, while 40 percent of men did.
It will be days before we get a broad sense of what happened in state legislative races, but it appears certain that women will have make significant gains there as well.
According to a tally by Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, 3,379 women were running Tuesday for seats in legislatures across the country, up more than 25 percent from two years ago. In 35 states, there were record numbers of female Democrats in contention; in 10 states, unprecedented tallies of Republican women.
All of this new female representation on the state level will have long-run implications. More women will be part of the deal-cutting that happens when legislatures draw the maps for once-a-decade redistricting. Given the importance that women voters have placed on health care, they will, no doubt, add to the pressure in some states to do things such as expanding their Medicaid programs.
There have been other election seasons that have been declared “the year of the woman.” This time, though, women have left an imprint on politics that feels like it will last — no longer a novelty, but a norm.
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