It could have been worse. Much worse.
There was no Blue Wave. Democrats performed in the House in accordance with historical averages for gains in a president’s first midterms.
As of this writing, the NY Times House Results chart is showing Democrats picking up 26 seats in races that have been called, but when all is settled, the gain will be in the 30-35 seat range. This is far better for Trump than Bill Clinton’s loss of 54 seats in 1994, and Barack Obama’s loss of 63 seats in 2010. So anyone who says this is a repudiation of Trump is saying so for motivations divorced from history. To the contrary, given the historically high number (48) of Republican incumbent retirements, holding the House always was going to be challenging.
In the Senate, Republicans did very well.
The NY Times is showing a net gain of 2 seats in races that have been called, but that almost certainly will increase to 3-4, as Florida has not been officially called, but Rick Scott has given a victory speech and no one expects that to change. Republicans lead by small amounts in Arizona and Montana, and the Republican highly likely will win the Mississippi runoff (there was a jungle election for one of the two Mississippi open seats, and no one got 50%). [Update: Democrat John Tester now appears to have won in Montana]
So in all likelihood, we are looking at a 53-47, or maybe even 54-46 Republican majority. That means on judicial nominations Republicans no longer are held hostage by Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. There may be new shaky Republican Senators to emerge (guessing Romney), but Flake and Corker are gone due to retirement. If it does end up that Republicans have 53-54 seats, it’s going to be difficult for Democrats to take back the Senate in 2020.
Certainly I hoped we would hold the House, let’s not kid ourselves. But if I had to lose one chamber, I’d rather it be the House.
Nothing meaningful in terms of reforming government or advancing Trump’s agenda is likely to get done legislatively when the chambers are split, but at least judicial nominations can move forward at an even faster pace. Taking back one of the three branches of government from serving as a liberal super-legislature, perhaps for a generation, is an achievement that makes a difference.
Democrats of course are thrilled that they have the House. There will be a Blue Wave of investigations and theatrics. Because the Democrat bench was wiped out during the Obama years, the Democrat survivors and senior members are the most extreme people who come from safe liberal districts. Having Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters as the faces of the Democrat Party, and runaway Democrats spending all their time on investigations, is not a bad scenario for 2020, either in terms of the congressional races or the presidential contest.
Because the Democrats do not have a large majority in the House, there is going to be a lot of tension between the new cohort of far-left activists from deep blue districts, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the traditional elderly coruptocrat Democrats who will be running committees.
This presents opportunity and risk for and with Trump. Trump is a dealmaker. There probably will be some things he and Pelosi can get together on, particularly if it means spending a lot of money on things like infrastructure. Some Democrats, elected on a platform of resistance, will not want to give Trump any victories. The risk is that Trump will strike bad deals.
If Trump wants to get something done that fits his announced agenda, he’s going to have to do it administratively and by removing regulation.
The election had other positive effects. Beto is history as an elected official, though no doubt he’ll become a campaign trail rock star for others. Florida and Ohio are solidly in Republican hands. Gillum’s rising stardom has faded, as has Stacey Abrams’. It’s hard to see a new face of the Democrat party emerging, so the presidential candidates will be the same old, same old.
Perhaps the biggest loss of the night was that Scott Walker lost in the early morning hours when Democrats found 50,000 uncounted absentee ballots in Milwaukee County. Until then Walker had a slight lead. So much of this website’s history was tied into Walker’s campaigns and the conservative revolution in Wisconsin, it’s sad to see him go. Republicans still control the legislature there, so it will be hard for the reforms to be reversed formally, but still, Wisconsin is now run by a liberal Democrat governor and Democrats got the scalp they wanted most.
There are many other things to say about last night. But for now, we can say we made it through the night.
[Note: corrected Mississippi runoff, mistakenly originally wrote Alabama]DONATE
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