We’ve done it. We’ve survived Election 2018. And of course there are winners, losers, and implications for 2020. A few, in no particular order.
We the People. Tough call here. On the one hand, we won. We decided that an unconstrained government is not a good thing and we restored at least the potential for a check and balance for the next two years by putting the House of Representatives in the hands of a different party. We also turned out in record numbers for a midterm. Can we keep it up?
On the other hand, we proved once again that we are a deeply divided nation. Moderates lost to partisans. The future for bipartisanship seems as bleak as before. Race remains the greatest dividing issue. Even a geography based solution involving the dismemberment of the nation doesn’t seem practical as the divide is between urban and rural residents, not between states or regions. The election of 2018 was decided in the suburbs. 2020 may be decided there too.
Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. Winners. Pelosi said Democrats would take back the House and they did. She even said so a full week before the election and caused a lot of panic. Now she must show that House Democrats can pass meaningful, constructive, helpful legislation that fills the people’s needs, even if the bills die in the Senate. And to quell the noise from the younger, lefter, more diverse group of Democrats who will be arriving in Washington come January, Pelosi should announce that she plans to retire at the end of her term. She will be 80 years old in 2020 and her retirement, having won the Speakership twice, will both set the stage for the next generation and deprive Donald Trump of his favorite whipping girl as he fights to win reelection. P.S., Chuck Schumer, loser. The odds were against him but he still left the Republicans firmly in control of the Senate.
Mitch McConnell and the Republicans. Winners. Yeah, I know, Republicans lost the House. But they added to their control of the Senate and that means two more years of placing conservative right-wing judges on the federal bench. That McConnell-led most important of all goals for the GOP may begin paying dividends within the next few months as the Mueller investigation winds down and the final indictments are returned. Still the Democrats not only flipped 29 House seats, as of this writing, they also gained 7 governor’s mansions and flipped 6 state legislative chambers. These gains will make McConnell’s job in 2020 harder.
Donald Trump. It’s a mixed bag for the man who never wanted to be president. With the House lost to the Democrats, Trump is going to find the rough waters in which he sails even stormier in the next two years. But the election unquestionably solidified Trump’s hold on the Republican Party as moderate Republicans, who ran away from him and he did not endorse, lost their seats. It is the Trump Party now. And his strategy of divisiveness, demonization, racism, disinformation and news media bashing continued to be successful. It is very clear that a significant number of Americans comprise a solid base of voters he can count on, as long as he keeps feeding them the red meat on which they thrive.
Women. Winners. More than one hundred win House elections and women increase their numbers across the board.
Young people. Ditto. Young voters turned out in record numbers. Question? Was this a one time shot or will we see them again in 2020?
Voter Suppression. Winner. It works. The election for governor of Georgia is case in point. The Republican candidate Brian Kemp is the current secretary of state, which puts him in charge of elections. They are still counting but the number of questionable actions taken to allegedly reduce turnout in areas believed to favor his Democratic opponent, Stacy Abrams, would fill a book, and probably will. Republican Kevin Kramer won a Senate seat from North Dakota after the implementation of voter ID laws that dis-proportionally disenfranchised Democratic leaning Native American voters.
Civility. Give me a break. What do you think? Loser for us, winner for them. Every election seems to be nastier than the one before. Even Fox stopped running one particularly racist and misleading national Republican ad. In my state of New Jersey, Republican challenger Bob Hugin ran a thoroughly disgusting highly misleading TV ad targeting incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez. Hugin lost. But overall the nasty ads work. Florida is the poster child for that argument. And moderate Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri all lost Senate seats to Trump supporters who hammered them in their advertising.
Maxine Waters. Huge, giant winner. Frequent target of Trump (“Low-IQ”) Waters was reelected to the House (CA43). Walter is now in line to chair the House Financial Services Committee, with the power to investigate Trump’s personal bank transactions. Her committee is also empowered to oversee the entire financial sector. And issue subpoenas. Talk about karma.
Dennis Hof. Winner. Sorry. Couldn’t help it. Republican Hof won election in the race for Nevada’s 36th Assembly District with 68 percent of the vote. Hof, a brothel owner, it’s legal in Nevada, died in October.
And so it is on to 2020. We can expect more of the same as long as Donald Trump is a candidate. But there is a chance, if we work really hard to make it so, that 2020 could be an election where events and issues outweigh personality in voters’ decisions. And there will a lot of unpredictable events happening in the next two years.