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And the winners are …

Commentary: Politically Aware


In the past year, Donald Trump has gone from historically unpopular candidate to historically unpopular president, with an approval rating consistently under 40 percent. In four congressional special elections this year, Democrats rode that anti-Trump sentiment to better performances in Republican held districts, but no victories. On Tuesday, Democrats claimed their first major wins since Trump’s election in impressive fashion, including expected victories by unexpectedly large margins and surprising incursions into Republican territory.

Virginia Governor. Democrat Ralph Northam was favored throughout the race, but polls over the weekend suggested a late surge for Republican Ed Gillespie. Instead, it was Northam who picked up late-deciding voters to win by nine points – four more than Sec. Clinton’s margin over Trump in 2016. Northam’s strong performance not only gives Democrats evidence that Trump could be a drag on Republican candidates in 2018; it ensures them a seat at the table when Virginia redraws its congressional districts after the 2020 census. Democrats currently hold only four of Virginia’s eleven congressional seats; simply drawing districts that reflect recent statewide results could give Democrats two more seats in 2022.

Virginia House of Delegates. To most pollsters and pundits, this was the surprise of the night. Tuesday morning, Democrats held only 34 of the 100 seats. By Tuesday night, Democrats were close to a take-over, having won 48 seats, the lead in two others, and a real chance in three more as the final ballots are counted. Many of Virginia’s state legislative districts were drawn to protect Republicans, so extrapolating this sort of wave to the 2018 congressional elections should be terrifying to GOP candidates.

New Jersey Governor. Democrat Phil Murphy won by 13 points, nearly matching Clinton’s 14 point 2016 margin. That’s not as encouraging for 2018 as the wave in Virginia, but it puts all levers of New Jersey government in Democratic control.

Washington 45th Senate District. With Manka Dhingra’s victory, Washington also comes under unified Democratic control, joining Oregon and California. The new “Blue Wall” on the West Coast could be the base of the Trump resistance on issues like climate change and immigration.

Maine’s Question 2. Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed Medicaid expansion so many times that supporters put it on the ballot. Maine voters approved it by over 15 points. Expect to see Medicaid initiatives in other states where expansion has been blocked by a Republican governor.

Transgender candidates. Danica Roem became the first transgender person elected to the Virginia legislature by taking down a leader of social conservatism. Outgoing delegate Bob Marshall refused to use Roem’s correct pronouns, supported mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds and coauthored Virginia’s constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Transgender candidates also won City Council seats in Palms Springs (Lisa Middleton) and Minneapolis (Andrea Jenkins) and a School Board seat in Erie, Pa. (Tyler Titus).

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Posted by on Nov 9, 2017. Filed under Bottom Highlights, Latest Issue, Politically Aware. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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