Elisabeth Gaj / Flickr Blue wave...
Elisabeth Gaj / Flickr

Was it a wave? It sure was. Dems did better now than in 2006 (that year, 31 House seats and 6 governorships) and the counting isn’t done. As of now, at least 35 House seats (on the way to ~39)  and at least 7 governorships went blue. Popular vote was heavily in favor of Democrats (7% or so in the House, which was basically the entire country). This, against a backdrop of good economic times, gerrymandering and geographical sorting, is all the more impressive.

Amy Walter/Cook Political:

Why Aren’t Democrats More Excited About the 2018 Results

Yet, here we are two days later, and Democrats aren’t exactly swinging from the chandeliers. To be sure, it’s hard for the party out of the White House to drive a narrative. It’s especially hard in the era of Trump. Not only did he declare victory on Wednesday, but the President has already moved on to other issues, moving the focus of the news media along with it. Moreover, narratives get set on election night. Even as the ballot counting continues – and races may well be moving for the better for Democrats – the thoughts, feelings and instal-analysis from election night is very sticky and difficult to dislodge.

But, it’s more than that. Democrats wanted this election to be about more than just winning the House or the Senate. They wanted 2018 to be a total rebuke of Trump. A wipe out of epic proportions all across the country. That didn’t happen. What we saw instead was more of a retrenchment. Red areas stayed red; blue areas stayed blue. The only real movement was in districts that were  purple — districts that had voted for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or had narrowly supported Trump- tipped overwhelmingly to Democrats. As my colleague David Wasserman pointed out, Democrats didn’t flip any district that Trump had carried by 55 percent or more.

The other reason Democrats aren’t as fired up about the 2018 election is that it failed to deliver an obvious frontrunner for 2020.

Now there’s one I actually disagree with. Calling Florida early was a downer but as the week wore on and Congressional numbers improved, so did our mood.

Remember, a wave is when you win more than your share of close ones. That’s what happened. And close ones take a while to count (see Arizona, which we will win, see Florida, which ???).

By the way, there is lots of inside the Beltway chatter about Nancy Pelosi and whether new members will vote for her. But if you’re not considering (as a voter, as an activist, as a member of Congress and as a journalist asking the questions)  that Speaker is third in line for the presidency, you’re doing it wrong. You’d better have someone qualified.


Though Tuesday’s results may have fallen short of optimistic expectations, they were nothing to sneer at. Democrats flipped more than 350 seats nationwide and seized control of seven legislative chambers. They gained six new trifectas, meaning Democrats control the governor’s mansion and both houses of the legislature. Democrats also picked up seven new governorships and now hold a majority of the nation’s attorney general offices.

Democratic groups say those gains have to be seen collectively, even if they fell short of the 600 flipped seats that were floated as a possibility if a true blue wave or tsunami had taken place.

“My frustration with us as Democrats is we’re focused on the immediate, the here and the now,” Kelly Dietrich, head of the National Democratic Training Committee, told TPM. “We lost almost 1,000 seats over the 10 years since Obama took office. This week we won back 360-some of them—more than a third—in one election. You don’t get everything back at once. You have to think long-term.”

Eden Robins/USA Today:

Democrats flipped the House, now they need to stop being Eeyores and flip the script

Trump is claiming victory and Hannity calls the House flip meaningless. But that’s phony Republican narrative and Democrats don’t have to believe it.

Yes, of course the horrors of American elections — the rampant voter suppression, a crumbling electoral infrastructure, general Republican corruption, media being media— became starkly apparent on Tuesday. But for, say, propagandist-in-chief Sean Hannity to call the House wins “meaningless” is just more phony GOP narrative. This election was actually … pretty refreshingly predictable.

The House flipped, the Senate remains Republican-dominated, and there were lots of down-ticket wins for progressive candidates. A record 100-plus women have been elected to Congress, many of them running progressive campaigns in conservative districts. And there have been incredible “firsts” for women of color and LGBTQ folks — perhaps the most stunning of which is the election of Native lesbian Mixed Martial Arts-fighting lawyer Sharice Davids from Kansas.

Kansas City Star:

Inside Kris Kobach’s losing Kansas campaign: ‘Check logic and reason at the door

Interviews with more than a dozen Republican strategists and officials paint a picture of a candidate who refused to listen to advice, was unwilling to put energy into fundraising and failed to set up a basic “get out the vote” operation.

Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, struggled to pay his campaign staff on time and at one point lacked a working phone system at his Johnson County campaign office, according to GOP sources familiar with the campaign. And people who offered to volunteer were never contacted.

“It was the most dysfunctional thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said a long-time GOP operative in Kansas.

Kobach trusted that his regular presence on cable news, dominance in headlines and the full-throated support of President Donald Trump would carry him to victory, strategists told The Star. He also expected independent Greg Orman to siphon more votes from Democrat Laura Kelly than he actually did.


How the Democrats finally defeated Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Tuesday, younger, energetic Democrats, particularly in the “blue” urban areas around Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin in Madison, turned out in large numbers to finally tip the balance against his traditional support in the red Milwaukee suburbs and Green Bay, according to Arnold Shober, an associate professor of government at Lawrence University. There were an estimated 6,000 more voters around Madison than in the previous governor’s race, he said.


Unions Helped Beat Scott Walker And Bruce Rauner, But Only After The Damage Was Done

The two GOP governors weakened the labor movement in ways that will be felt for years, perhaps even decades.

Labor unions are celebrating the downfall of two of their worst enemies this week: Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bruce Rauner of Illinois. The pair of Republicans lost their re-election bids to Democrats, ending Walker’s gubernatorial stint after two terms and Rauner’s after one.

The AFL-CIO  could barely contain its glee over Walker’s defeat, with the labor federation’s president releasing a six-word dagger of a statement: “Scott Walker was a national disgrace.”

Meanwhile, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees touted Rauner’s loss. “Rauner’s attacks on the freedom of working families have backfired,” the union’s president proclaimed.

While organized labor may revel in the outcomes, their jubilation has its limits. After all, unions may have won this week’s big game, but only after Walker and Rauner forever changed the rules by which the game is played.

Matt Glassman:

Happy Election Day!

Elections don’t work they way the “folk theory” most people believe (see @jbview here bloomberg.com/opinion/articl…), but nevertheless they do have a huge impact on public policy.

A lot of people, however, still get wrong *how* they influence public policy. 1/

The most obvious way, of course, is that elections reconstitute the government with new political actors, who have different preferences about public policy.

That’s where the story starts and stops for most people.

Alec MacGillis:

It’s time to talk about Ohio.
Yes, Sherrod Brown won reelection, which shows the enduring appeal of his rumpled brand of economic populism. (Though his flawed opponent got almost 48% despite getting relatively little party/outside backing.)
But overall 2018 was brutal for OH Dems. They lost every other statewide race—guv, AG, etc. They didn’t pick up 1 US House seat—they hold 4/16. And they netted only four state reps and LOST a state sen seat in ex-Dem stronghold of Mahoning Valley, preserving GOP supermajorities.
Obama won the state twice, albeit narrowly. And past big Dem years produced major gains in Ohio, like winning governor in 2006. This year, MI and WI saw big Dem successes, despite also contending with gerrymandering. Not Ohio.
So what’s going on in Ohio? I’ve spent a lot of time reporting there in recent years but don’t have a firm answer. Here are some possible explanations. I’m curious what people make of them.

Some election data from Simon Rosenberg:

So just crunched some data and found that Dems had their best performance ever w/18-29s, 18-44s and Asians Americans. 2nd best performance ever w/Hispanics. New coalition is alive and well.

That’s how you write a headline.

Josh Chafetz/Politico:

What Can Nancy Pelosi Do Now?

Expect House Democrats to pursue a singular goal: laying the groundwork to oust Trump in 2020.

Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately: It won’t come primarily in the form of passing legislation. Indeed, even the supposedly “unified” Republican government of the past two years has produced almost no legislation of note beyond a large tax cut. The one type of legislation that has moved through the current Congress (mostly) has been appropriations bills (and their uglier cousin, the continuing resolution). In the next Congress, Democratic policies will surely find their way into appropriations bills, although that would be more a continuation of the past two years than a break with it. And while there’s always the remote possibility of a grand bargain over infrastructure, we probably shouldn’t be any more sanguine about the next two years of Infrastructure Week than we’ve been about the past two.

But when it comes to actually checking a president, legislation is generally a dead end, for the simple reason that presidents can always wield the veto pen, and the supermajorities needed to override a veto (two-thirds in both houses) are nearly impossible to assemble.

But Congress, as I argued in some detail in a book published last year, has a lot of tools beyond simply legislating, and many of those tools are available to a single house, acting alone. Some of them are even available to individual members. Importantly, these things are largely geared toward making a case for 2020, rather than enacting substantial change right now.

Maggie Fox/NBC:

NRA tweet warns doctors to ‘stay in their lane’ over gun control

Gun deaths rose in 2015 after falling in earlier years, CDC says in a new report.

A social media war erupted between doctors and the National Rifle Association Thursday, just as 12 people were shot and killed at a California nightclub and hours before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new figures showing gun deaths on the rise across the country.

Doctors and medical officials have increasingly taken on gun violence as a public health issue. Last month, the American College of Physicians issued new guidelines for doctors to follow in helping protect patients from firearms dangers, and published several reports on gun violence in its flagship publication, the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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