08 November 2017

A blue wave of wins

Take that, wingnuts.  Northam beat Gillespie in Virginia by 54% to 45%, a much bigger margin than the most recent polls predicted.  In the state's House of Delegates, where Republicans had a 66-34 majority, Democrats have picked up at least 14 seats and may manage another 3 to take the majority.  Maine approved Medicaid expansion by referendum, 59% to 41%.  In perhaps the sweetest result of the day, the Republican state legislator who wrote Virginia's anti-trans "bathroom bill" was defeated by Danica Roem, a transgender candidate.  A round-up of our wins nationwide is here.

The wingnuts quickly began devouring their wounded.  Breitbart repudiated Gillespie as an "establishment Republican" leading a "band of virtue-signalling Bush loyalists", while Trump said that he "did not embrace me or what I stand for", even though in fact Gillespie had been endorsed by Bannon and had run a Trumpesque campaign full of dog-whistles about illegal aliens and Confederate statues.  RedState, which these days is unenthused with both the Trump and establishment brands of Republicanism, declared the day "a bloodletting of the Republican party of a kind unseen in a generation".

One of the striking things about this election was turnout.  In Virginia, about 2.6 million people voted out of a total state population of 8.4 million.  This is not high; in the 2016 election, turnout in Virginia was almost 4.0 million.  In the off-year election of 2014, which saw record low turnout nationally, 2.2 million people voted in Virginia -- more comparable to yesterday's figure.  Low turnout is normally bad for Democrats, since Republicans vote more consistently.  Yet yesterday Democrats won by massive, poll-beating margins.  To me this suggests that Republican turnout was unusually low, though it's likely that that of Democrats was also unusually high (hence the 400,000 increase over 2014).  If so, Trump's plummeting popularity and the almost comical inability of the Republicans in Congress to pass any of their agenda may indeed be demoralizing their voters, while the unique threat Trump poses to minorities, Constitutional norms, and sanity in general, are energizing ours.  I don't know enough about Virginia politics to judge the effect of state-level issues, but our wins elsewhere in the country suggest that national perceptions played a real role.

And don't forget the various special elections over the last year, such as the Georgia House election, most of which were won by Republicans -- but with Democrats doing better than they have historically done in the venues in question.  It matters.  If close losses in red states foreshadow blowout wins in purple states, as yesterday suggests, then it bodes well for 2018.


Blogger W. Hackwhacker said...

As residents of a neighboring state, we were obliged to watch the Gillespie campaign's unabashed hewing to the Trump playbook in the DC/ Northern Virginia media market. To now observe Trump and barfly re-enactor Steve Bannon, et al, trying to claim Gillespie lost because he didn't run enough of a Trumpian campaign will be transparently ridiculous to Virginians and those of us across the river who had to see to his lying, anti- immigrant, racist ads in endless loops for the past 2 months. In short, Trumpism,even without a Trump presence, is a catastrophic failure. I almost wish Repubs don't learn that lesson in time to salvage their stinking party.

08 November, 2017 07:30  
Blogger Kevin Robbins said...

Thanks for the nice recap. Obviously, if Gillespie had bitten the head off an immigrant or three he would've won. At least that will likely be the take home message the right will receive.

08 November, 2017 07:42  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Great analysis of Tuesday's elections.

Locally, in Boston and suburbs, the story was about candidates of color -- especially women -- who won big. The Boston City Council now has 6 women of color out of 13. That's significant. And in a western suburb, Framingham, which is majority white, an African-American who ran for mayor won. Another first.

Of course, this is Massachusetts, a very blue state, but still, it's wonderful progress, especially for Boston, which does not have a particularly proud past where race relations are concerned.

10 November, 2017 06:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Hackwhacker: I agree -- even the pre-Trump Republican party had little worthwhile about it.

Kevin: That's pretty much the line Breitbart is pushing.

Shaw: Even the bluest of states could benefit from becoming even bluer (that certainly includes mine).

10 November, 2017 09:05  

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