Second thoughts on the election – Trump had a bad day, Democrats had a good day

Now that I have had time to reflect on the election and shift my attention away from the high-profile elections, my early lukewarm feelings need to be revised. It looks like Tuesday turned out to be pretty good for Democrats and bad for Donald Trump. If you needed to see that Trump was not happy, one can read the transcript of the press conference that he held on Wednesday where he was even more peevish, mean, and spiteful than he usually is. He even name-checked several Republicans who he claimed lost their congressional races because they did not ’embrace’ him (that narcissism and desperate need to be loved surfacing again) while ignoring those who did embrace him but lost anyway.

The big disappointments were that Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams did not win the governorships in Florida and Georgia and Beto O’Rourke did not beat Ted Cruz, and that the Republicans will increase their majority in the Senate by at least two seats. Those were hard to take but we have to remember that these were high-profile races simply because they were long shots in heavily Republican areas. And to balance them, here are ten high-profile Republicans who lost their races. The fact that they came so close had benefits for down ballot races where the increased Democratic voter turnout and enthusiasm led to the Democrats gaining control of the House of Representatives, overcoming the major hurdles of gerrymandering and voter suppression that often requires the Democrats to win by as much as a 10-point margin just to break even in the number of seats. In the Northeast, Republicans were almost wiped out, with just one, possibly two, Republicans winning in New Jersey, and three Republican seats flipping in New York.

Here are the races that have still not been decided as of this Thursday morning consisting of 12 House seats, 3 Senate seats, and one governorship.

This is a major development. That Democratic voter enthusiasm also led to major gains in state legislatures and governorships and in various ballot measures and that is important for future elections, though the fossil fuel industry spent big to defeat three of them. There was also a big jump in the number of young people who voted. Zaid Jilani lists more down ballot successes. (Ohio however remains a Republican state with all but one statewide office remaining in Republican hands, though the races were closer than in past years.)

The New York Times created an infographic that shows the extent of the blue wave, with 313 house districts moving towards the Democrats and only a few dozen moving towards the Republicans. Democrats also fielded a much more progressive and diverse slate of candidates than they have before. As Nate Cohn says after analyzing the results:

As a whole, the House Democratic candidates overcame all of these disadvantages. They are on track to win more seats than Democrats did in 2006, with far fewer opportunities. They even managed to win more seats in heavily Republican districts than the Republicans managed to win in heavily Democratic districts in 2010.

Democrats pulled it off with an exceptionally deep and well-funded class of recruits that let the party put a very long list of districts into play. In prior years, the party in power wouldn’t have even needed to vigorously contest many of these races.

We still don’t know the full picture because the countinghas not been completed. But Democrats are likely to win the national popular vote in this election by seven to eight points once late votes — which typically lean Democratic — are counted.

That would be a slightly larger margin than Republicans achieved in 2010 or 1994. It would be about the same as the Democratic advantage in 2006. It would be, in a word, a wave.

And just to make sure we do not miss the big picture, here is the estimable Sarah Silverman to remind people like me that the Democrats actually won on Tuesday.


  1. says

    The Dems won overwhelmingly in terms of popular vote. Why didn’t they take the senate too? Oh right because the senate vote is rigged to make it harder to unseat incumbents. American “democracy” strikes again.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    Marcus Ranum #2: The Dems won overwhelmingly in terms of popular vote. Why didn’t they take the senate too? Oh right because the senate vote is rigged to make it harder to unseat incumbents. American “democracy” strikes again.

    That’s not the only factor. Senate terms are 6 years, so only 1/3 of senate seats are (re)filled in each election. It matters which 1/3 is at stake.

  3. anat says

    The Democrats won at least 20 senate seats out of the 35? that were on ballot. So they did win the senate elections. It’s just that 6 years ago they won 26 of the same races, so they end up net losing seats.

  4. says

    The Dems lost some seats, but none that were surprising and the Dems were holding more seats that were up for grabs than the Repubs were. It’s going to be the opposite in 2020, so that’s where the Dems have a actual chance of retaking the senate. Unfortunately that’s going to be two more years of Orange Yeller stuffing the judiciary, but nobody realistically expected otherwise.

    The big question after today’s news is if RBG can hold on for two more years.

  5. Mano Singham says

    Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the most liberal justice on the court and is affectionately known as RBG. She is 83 and while she is tough and has recovered from cancer, she fell yesterday and broke three ribs. All of us are hoping that she will stay on until there is a Democratic president or at least a Democratic controlled senate to avoid a flaming reactionary being appointed.

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