On Tuesday, November 6th, American voters went to the polls to cast their ballots in the 2018 midterm elections. This election was a referendum on President Trump’s presidency as half of his first term was coming to an end. The Democratic base was energized coming into the election, while the MAGA hat-wearing Republicans were determined to build a wall of support for the President.
Throughout the 2018 campaign, health care was a top issue for Democrats, with most making protection of individuals with pre-existing conditions a priority of their platform. The Republicans and Donald Trump went a different route, sticking to their playbook of culture wars and anti-immigration rhetoric. This was on full display the last two weeks when Donald Trump deployed a small army of 5,000 troops to the southern border to keep out a caravan of the so-called “invader” migrants from Central America on foot and still over 800 miles away from the border.
After all of the talk from political pundits of what may or may not happen, it was finally time to see how this country felt about Donald Trump and the societal culture his persona has promoted. As the results came in, they were not overly surprising.
Democrats re-took control of the House of Representatives, gaining 27 seats giving them a 220 to 195 advantage against the Republicans. Was it a so-called “blue wave,” blue drip or blue splash? Frankly, I don’t know, and I’m pretty tired of the all water metaphors when talking about Democratic achievement in the election.
Overall last night was a good night for Democrats. They now have legitimate power for the first time since Barack Obama left office. They will most likely subpoena Trump’s tax returns, and launch other ethics investigations that have been ignored by the Republican-dominated Congress. Now it’s time for the Democrats to put up or shut up. Adam “Little” Schiff (nickname provided by Trump) now replaces Devin Nunes as head of the house intelligence committee. Dems have legitimate control, and can work to hold President Trump accountable, and can halt Republican bills in the house.
The Senate was a completely different story for the Democrats. This year’s Senate map for Democrats was historically tough. They had Senators such as Heidi Heitkamp in the extremely red state of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, and Claire McCaskill in Missouri. All of those three Democratic Senators lost their seats last night to pro-Trump candidates. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was one of the only red state Democrats to keep seat along with Jon Tester of Montana. Perhaps the biggest Senate disappointment for Democrats was Beto O’Rourke losing his challenge to incumbent Republican Senator Ted “Zodiac Killer” Cruz”. It was always a long shot for a Democrat to win in Texas, but Beto’s energy and viral moments like his comments on players kneeling for the national anthem had some comparing him to Barack Obama. At the end of the night, the Republicans gained two seats giving them the 51 – 45 advantage. This allows Donald Trump to keep confirming his federal judge nominees, and potentially another Supreme Court seat.
Democrats made significant gains in the Governor races, but also lost some highly contested races. They gained seven governor seats, with a shocking upset in Kansas where Laura Kelly defeated Republican Kris Kobach. Another significant loss for Republicans was incumbent Republican Scott Walker who failed in earning his third term, ousted by Democrat Tony Evers. The loss that hurt most in my opinion for Democrats was Andrew Gillum in Florida.
Gillum was a long shot to even win the Democratic primary, as he was outraised and outspent tremendously by establishment candidates. But after defying the odds and making it to the general ballot, things were looking good for Gillum. Poll numbers had him in the lead and he received a lot of national attention for calling out his opponent Ron Desantis’ racism in a debate. Republican Ron Desantis’ campaign started and ended with racism, infamously saying “The last thing we need to do it monkey this thing up by electing a socialist.” This race got highly contentious after these comments and ended up giving us many viral moments. These moments peaked during a debate between the two candidates back in late October. Desantis was asked about his support of conservative writer David Horowitz despite his many anti-Semitic remarks. Desantis claimed that Horowitz had not made those comments at the time he gave him his support. When the mediator then said that the quotes were made previous to Desantis saying he was an “admirer” Desantis yelled, “Well, how the hell was I supposed to know.” When Gillum was given the chance to speak, he ended with what became the most telling quote of this race saying he was not trying to say the Desantis was a racist only that “I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”
Unfortunately, it looks like Desantis’ tactics of fear and racism resonated with enough voters in Florida to elect him as their governor. Another disappointment for Democrats was Stacey Abrams in Georgia. Although the race has not been called yet, it is very much looking like her Republican opponent Brian Kemp will win. Kemp, who is also the secretary of state in Georgia, refused to recuse himself in the handling of the election. This led to a number of very questionable decisions on his part which many felt were forms of voter suppression, which included purging more than 700,000 citizens from the voting rolls. The Republicans were able to keep a slim majority (25 to 23) over the governorships due in large part to moderates like Larry Hogan winning in Maryland, and Charlie Baker in Massachusetts.
As we look to 2019, we will see major shakeups in our government. Donald Trump could be impeached; Robert Mueller might be fired. With Trump discharging Jeff Sessions yesterday and appointing a loyalist Matthew Whitaker, we could have a full-blown authoritarian regime on our hands by the 2020 election. However it may go, stay informed, embrace debate, and stay WOKE.