politico.com; November 7, 2018
It Wednesday, the day after the epic 2018 Midterm Elections, and time for The Blogger Candidate Election Wrap Up. We begin with breaking but not unexpected news. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has submitted his resignation. More like he was asked by the Mr. Donald Trump to tender his resignation. He will be temporarily replaced by top deputy and Special Counsel critic Matthew Whitaker. Speaking of the Special Counsel investigation, rumor has it that Robert Mueller is getting ready to turn in his report to Deputy Attorney General (for now) Rod Rosentstein. Will the report be made public in some form is anyone's guess. What is not a mystery is what happened yesterday.
First, congratulations to all the winners. A special shout out to newly elected California Governor Gavin Newsom and Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. Well done. Next, what happened? What happened was the Democrats became the majority party in the House of Representatives and the Republicans held their majority in the Senate. That is the short story. The long story is suburban voters, women, the blue wave and a red wave. Shall we have a look.
Voter turnout was massive. Massive enough to wrest a possible gain of 30 seats in the House from the Republicans. Yet, it was not massive enough for the Democrats to take control of the Senate. In fact, they lost seats; the biggest losses being Missouri incumbent Claire McCaskill and North Dakota incumbent Heidi Heitkamp. This gives Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Mr. Trump a little breathing, especially when it comes to judicial confirmations, for at least the next two years. Another place where the Democrats fell short were the governors' races.
Good news, bad news. Democrats were able to flip seven governorships: Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. Flipping the Wisconsin governorship was especially sweet for Democrats, defeating longtime nemesis Scott Walker. The closely contested Florida race came down to a miniscule 1-point as Rep. Ron DeSantis eeked out a victory over Democratic challenger Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. The Georgia governors' race was another closely watched contest. In the closely watched Georgia race, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp nor Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams failed to capture the 50-percent of the votes and have forced into a December 4th runoff. Mr. Kemp is considered the favorite in a one-on-one race with Ms. Abrams. The Republicans continue to occupy the governors' seats in Iowa and New Hampshire. This has national implications because they are the first stops in the Democrats' road to retaking the White House.
Part of retaking the presidency includes firming up the fabled Blue Wall in the Midwestern states. Two years ago the president barreled through the wall, winning key states Michigan and Wisconsin. However, things changed. The incumbent governor and senator of Pennsylvania were easily re-elected and the Democrats took nine of the state's House seats, a gain of five from the last election. In Michigan, Democrats picked up at least one House (another race is still too close to call as of Wednesday morning). The Democrats won two House seats and Senator Tammy Baldwin won re-election. Democrats also made gains in the crucial state of Ohio. Senator Sherrod Brown beat the poorly funded Republican challenger Rep. Jim Renacci by a tiny 5-point margin. Republicans held onto the governor's mansion as former Senator Mike DeWine defeated challenger Richard Cordray. The lesson here: The Blue Wall was repaired but remains vulnerable. Despite the gains made by Democrats, there is no guarantee that they will reject the president in two years.
The road to retaking the House ran through California, sort of. During the run up to the election, California was considered key to flipping the House. Turns out, that was not necessary. Democrats reached the magic number of 23 seats needed to flip the House early in the evening, thank you Antonio Delgado. Any Democrat victories in California will only add to the final tally. Shout out The Candidate Forum's Representative Ted Lieu (CA-33).
It was all about suburbia. Suburban Republicans were voted out office in districts from the East Coast to Nevada. These were not the easy races--Republicans in targeted districts in Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City, and Richmond were more of challenge. Democrats won toss up races in Viriginia: Reps. Scott Taylor from the Tidewater area and David Brat from the Richmond area were defeated. Incumbent Texas House Republicans John Culberson from the Houston and Pete Sessions from Dallas were knocked off. All was not gloomy in Florida, Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo went down in flames as did Randy Hultgreen from Chicago. There was glimmer of hope in Republican suburbia with Troy Balderson and Brian Fitzpatrick winning their contests in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Otherwise, the battle for suburbia was brutal.
The Democrats may have to wait until 2022 to take the majority in the Senate. As of writing, votes in the Arizona and Florida Senate races are still being counted but if the Republican leads hold, the majority will increase to 54 seats. This gives the Republicans a cushion against any Democratic attacks in the next election cycle. The 2018 election map was not the Democrats' friend, although, the 2020 map is a little better, gaining ground will not be easy. Alabama Senator Doug Jones is safe for now, having won a special election to fill newly unemployed AG Jeff Sessions' seat. In all fairness, he did beat an extremely flawed candidate. Sen. Jones will have to decide if he wants to run for a full term in a state that the president won by 62 percent. If the Democrats lose Alabama, they will need to pick up five seats to flip the Senate in 2020--six if they do not win the White House. Maine Senator Susan Collins, Senator Mitch McConnell, and South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham's terms expire in 2020 and Yours Truly believes that they will be in the Democrats' crosshairs.
It was ladies night. Women, energized by the 2016 election, stood for election, some for the first time, in record numbers. While we continue to await the results, it very likely that over 100 will being serving in the House in January. Most of the women are Democrats. Democratic women also carried other races. This upended the president's half baked notion that he carried the women's vote in the previous election. Well he sort of did: colleges educated suburban women voted for him in 2016 but were more evenly split this go around. A hearty congratulations to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Katie Porter, and Ilhan Omar on their victories.
Finally, it may not have been Beto O'Rouke's night but other Texas Democrats did well. Lizzie Fletcher beat Mr. Culberson and Colin Allred was victorious in Dallas. There were a few Republican close calls in districts that managed to stay Republicans. How close, you may ask? Less than ten points separated Republican victors from their Democratic opponents. Next time they may not be so lucky.
What do we take away from all this? Democrats are still struggling to connect with rural voters, who typically lean conservative. Republicans have the same problem with urban voters. The 2018 Midterm Elections revealed two different Americas, for better or worse. What happens next? With the Democrats taking control of key House of Representatives committee, expect to see them wield the power of the subpoena. Regarding the Special Counsel: indications are that the action is starting pick up. Expect House Democrats to move to protect the Special Counsel. Also, expect to see a sweeping package of reform and accountability. As far as impeachment is concerned, that will depend on where the evidence leads. Already, the president has threatened to investigate the Democrats if they investigate him. Okay, fine, whatever. More immediate concerns are the issues of leadership and the 2020 Presidential elections. For now, a break.