Democrats are getting the party they want, and it can’t win in purple and red states. Republicans are getting the party they didn’t want, and it can. And that made all the difference last night, in an election that turned out to be profoundly disappointing for progressives. How disappointing? Josh Kraushaar and “Abolish ICE” progressive Sean McElwee had drawn up a list pre-election of the key races as he saw them for the evening – Republicans won all nine of them.
The Blue Wave that had been so highly anticipated last night never materialized. A wave election, however you define it, does more than elect 30-35 House members and flip at this juncture just one Senate seat. A wave election is a combo punch of wins all over the place, including in places that push the margins of where you thought a party could win. We saw a true wave election in 2010 for Republicans. There was no such repudiation offered by Resistance Democrats in 2018.
Yes, Democrats took the House, as anticipated – the combination of retirements and the backlash of suburban voters overwhelmed a GOP where many of its members had become lackadaisical in their approach to doing the work required to win elections. But when your most significant statewide victories for Democrats are defeating Scott Walker and Dean Heller, it’s a far cry from how things looked pre-Kavanaugh.
So today we wake up to a Republican Party that is decidedly more Trumpian, having seen the elimination of its most moderate and Trump-critical members, and the support of those who embraced Trump emphatically on the campaign trail and in policy preferences. The only candidate to win statewide who could be fairly described as a Trump critic is Mitt Romney, and even he will arrive in Washington to play the balancing game in a period of investigations and confirmations. And on both scores, it’s full speed ahead, with subpoena power for the House and an emboldened majority in the Senate.
Last night, Van Jones spoke for many progressives in his sorrow: “This is heartbreaking,” he said. And for many of the Resistance who had actively convinced themselves of the wave’s existence, it really is. Even as recently as six months ago Democrats looked capable of winning the Senate – holding Missouri, Indiana, Florida, and Montana, winning in Arizona, Tennessee, and Nevada, and on a true wave night, taking out the much loathed Ted Cruz in Texas. A Republican Senate that could get to +54 seemed impossible. Now, if results in Montana and Arizona hold, that’s exactly what they’d have.
Kraushaar maintains that taken together, these results indicate a desire for balance, not resistance – and a rejection of candidates who ran too far to the left.
The results have profound lessons for Democrats as party leaders mull over what type of candidate is best-positioned to defeat Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Progressives looked to candidates focused on turning out new, liberal voters—at the possible expense of suburban swing voters—to recreate the electorate in their states. Stacey Abrams, Beto O’Rourke, and Andrew Gillum weren’t just inspirational candidates looking to make history; they also offered a test of whether the best way to challenge Trumpism is with unapologetic progressivism. All three lost, and Gillum’s defeat came despite ample polling showing him ahead.
House Democrats took a different approach in their attempt to win back control of the lower chamber—and to check the president. They recruited military veterans and national security experts without partisan backgrounds. They understood that to win suburban areas where Republicans once dominated, they needed to reassure swing voters that they didn’t support single-payer health insurance, open borders, and a wild-eyed foreign policy. It’s why so many of the Democratic victors were running as apolitical outsiders.
By contrast, look at the few districts where House Democrats fell short of expectations. Despite Democratic domination in the Philadelphia suburbs, Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick was one of the few Clinton-district Republicans to prevail. He was running against Scott Wallace, a wealthy self-funder with tenuous ties to the district who held out-of-the-mainstream views on law enforcement and foreign policy. Despite running in a swing suburban district, Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon scored a victory over progressive activist Kara Eastman, who brought in some of the most liberal members of Congress to campaign for her. Even California Rep. Mimi Walters, who looked like an underdog, maintained a narrow lead over Democrat Katie Porter, an Elizabeth Warren protege who supports a single-payer health care system.
Progressives deserve to get the blame internally within the Democratic coalition for nominating figures deemed too far left to win in states like Florida, Georgia, Texas, Ohio and even Maryland – just as the Tea Party did for botching several nominations in winnable seats. This in turn will just prompt more calls from journalists like NBC’s Ken Dilanian to abolish the Senate. (It’s fun to play pretend.) In reality, they should be questioning why the level of Hispanic vote in Florida and Georgia simply did not materialize for candidates who spent the last month talking about the president’s race-baiting when it came to immigration and the border.
The left continues to put celebrity and gimmicks over capability. O’Rourke, a nothing-burger before he was hand-picked and groomed to replace Cruz (maybe because O’Rourke took on a cultural-appropriation nickname of “Beto”) is being talked about as a PRESIDENTIAL candidate!! Based on WHAT? His record of winning elections? His legislative record? No, based on him swooning dimwits with his youth and Kennedy-esque grin. Sheesh.
Nothing promotes the liberal candidates as much as the liberal media. Imagine if it wasn’t 92% hostile to Trump? Imagine if they reported HIS economy has produced the lowest unemployment situations for blacks, Hispanics and women? Imagine if they reported the laws passed to cut pharmaceutical prices? Imagine if they HONESTLY reported on his response to 12,000 illegal immigrants aimed at our borders? The only Democrats left in the Senate would be Pelosi, Waters, Warren and Schumer; the rest of the nation would demonstrate more intelligence.
I said those late votes from Dade and Broward counties would come in for Nelson and Gillum–didn’t say how late–recounts coming as both races approach toss-up.
Will probably see a recount in ARIZ as well–too close to call..
Blaming the media for all Repub losses gets wearisome–don’t forget Soros.
Mueller report will probably be out this month