First things first.
With the future of our democracy in the balance, the American people took a very big step away from the divisive and destructive course our country has been on since the 2016 Election. We did what we had to do.
Two years ago, on the day after Donald Trump’s surprise victory, I woke up at 5 a.m., threw out the planned agenda for that year’s upcoming Democracy Alliance conference and got to work with colleagues and allies trying to understand what hit us.
This morning, I’m happy to say, it is Donald Trump who has to worry about his agenda.
While everything we know about him tells us he’ll keep on his divisive, bigoted, cruel, and corrupt course, what’s different is that we have recaptured significant power. The powers to check and hold him accountable with a new congressional majority and to show what progressives can do in government, thanks to sizable gains in state legislatures all across the country.
We broke the Iron Curtain of right-wing control.
There are counts still outstanding, and much analysis to be done, but for now, here are some morning-after observations.
The Big Picture
As with every midterm year, U.S. House races served as our national election and took the political temperature of the country. And it was the most massive midterm turnout in 50 years, with Democrats out polling Republicans in the overall popular vote by over 9 percent—larger than the waves that ushered in conservative majorities in 1994 and 2010.
If it wasn’t for gerrymandering, our gains would be massive. But they are still large and decisive, and this changes the balance of power in Washington for the next two years and sets the table for what we need to do in 2020 to fully take back our democracy.
As I write, some Senate races are still too close to call. With the least favorable Senate map any party has faced in decades, we lost some ground in Red States that went heavily for Trump in 2016 and flipped at least one with Jacky Rosen’s victory in Nevada. Two years from now, we are poised to regain significant ground and take back the Senate and restore its critical role as the guarantor of a fair and independent judiciary.
In the States
The story in the states, which the Democracy Alliance and other progressive donors have made a particular focus of in the last few years, following decades of under investment, shows strong returns on the work of grassroots groups all across the country.
Entering the election with the biggest deficit in state power since the 1920s, Democrats now control at least 22 governorships, bringing them close to parity with Republicans as we near the critical redistricting decisions of 2021.
Governors Take Control
Democrats took back governorships in Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, and Wisconsin—the last one especially sweet since it ended the career of Scott Walker, the Koch Brothers’ favorite governor. Among the newly-elected governors in states that remained blue are Jared Polis, the country’s first openly-gay governor, and Tim Walz in Minnesota.
As I write, Stacey Abrams still has a shot to be the next governor of Georgia, despite running against an opponent who did everything he could to rig the vote. Her many advocates and supporters will do everything we can to make sure this election is not stolen from her. Watching Andrew Gillum’s concession speech last night after his razor-thin loss to a Trump clone was heartbreaking, but his was a race to be proud of and I have no doubt we’ll watch many Gillum victory speeches in the years to come.
Progress in Texas
In Texas, Beto O’Rourke captivated the nation and came so close to ousting the Darth Vader of the U.S. Senate, Ted Cruz. But overall, what happened in Texas this year is nothing short of awesome.
According to the Texas Future Project, three million more people voted than in 2014, and the voter gap between red and blue was sharply reduced from 600,000 to 200,000. Three U.S. House seats flipped, along with 12 Texas House seats, two Texas Senate seats, and progressive prosecutors were elected in Dallas and Fort Bend counties. We are well on our way to changing the politics of Texas, and with it the country.
Good News Down Ballot
To give you an idea of the trends down ballot around the country, every New Mexico statewide office—and there are nine—is now held by a Democrat. At least seven state legislative chambers flipped last night, and in four of them, there are now trifectas of blue governance.
Republican super majorities were toppled in both legislative chambers in North Carolina—where progressive champion Anita Earls was also elected to the State Supreme Court—as well as the Minnesota Senate and the Pennsylvania Senate.
A huge stride toward justice was taken by the voters of Florida in approving Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to 1.5 million people with felony convictions. The outcome of this ballot measure could change the politics of Florida once again. But first we need to actually register these newly eligible voters and fight the inevitable efforts to stall it by the new state administration.
In Oregon, voters soundly defeated a ballot measure to repeal the state’s sanctuary law, and Massachusetts voters upheld strong non-discrimination protections for transgender people, while Missouri and Arkansas voted to raise the minimum wage, and voters in Florida banned off-shore drilling.
In the end, while in the days ahead we will take a hard look at what worked and what didn’t, to strengthen our efforts moving forward, this is a story about ordinary people rising up to save their country—canvassing, calling, texting, turning out at the polls, and leaving nothing on the field.
Record numbers of women, people of color and LGBTQ candidates—many of them younger leaders—will take office at all levels next year, painting a hopeful future for a country led by a New American Majority. In congressional races, a record number of Democratic women will now be on Capitol Hill next year. “Thus far, 83 of the 95 women elected to the House this year, as well as 10 of the 13 elected to the Senate, are Democrats,” reported NPR.
Today, in contrast to the GOP #CultureOfCorruption, America elected candidates who ran on an inspiring vision to make government work for the people again.
Here’s what some of the new faces of the US House of Representatives will look like: pic.twitter.com/Epb8UDLv7Y
— CAP Action (@CAPAction) November 7, 2018
We wondered last year whether the impressive “resistance” to Trump would show up at the polls. It did. In Virginia, in Alabama, and across the nation last night, Resistance turned to replacement. Now it turns to the responsibility of governing, checking corruption and lawlessness ignored by a Republican Congress, and delivering for all those left behind in this economy.
But for now, let’s celebrate the work that paid off last night.