Democrats on the move; Trump desperate to stoke fear; GOP in trouble
Here are our key takeaways and key results from last night’s elections:
- Democrats have momentum as we approach the midterm elections. Following the “too close to call” result in Ohio 12’s special election, and with Democrats needing 23 seats to take control of the House of Representatives, Ron Brownstein reports: “By the count of David Wasserman, the House race analyst for the Cook Political Report, there are 68 House Republican districts whose voting history leans less reliably toward the GOP than Ohio-12.”
- Trump is polarizing the country on issues such as immigration, a strategy that is unlikely to work. Brownstein: “Trump seems determined to widen the suburban-rural gulf with his midterm strategy, which has focused overwhelmingly on energizing the blue-collar and non-urban Republican base by provoking cultural and racially infused fights. That might generate more pressure on the Democratic senators seeking reelection in the preponderantly white Heartland states Trump carried—such as North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri—but it imposes a burden on GOP candidates in suburban areas. ‘We are going to run a national campaign to beat [North Dakota Democratic Senator] Heidi Heitkamp—great,” [GOP consultant Mike] Murphy said. “What about the rest of the map? We are betting the store on a shrinking demography because Trump is running the general election like a Republican primary.’”
- Trump will “triple down” on race-baiting to mobilize rural voters, mobilizing the backlash to him in the process. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post in post entitled: The House map is very broad for Democrats. And Trump is the reason why: “Trump and Republicans have been doing everything they can to energize those rural Trump-leaning areas. If you look at the ads that Republicans ran against O’Connor…they amount to a festival of Nancy Pelosi-bashing and relentless culture-war demagoguing about crime, the menacing immigrant invasion, and the alleged threat that “the Resistance” poses to traditional values. With the GOP tax cut mostly disappearing from GOP messaging, this represents a last-ditch effort to galvanize Trump’s rural base.” He concludes: “…with the suburban Democratic-tilting areas more energized than the rural GOP areas…[it] means that Republicans need to triple down on the Trumpist cultural and race-baiting appeals to energize the Trumpist rural base. But even as this might not be producing quite the galvanizing effect they will need, they must keep at this to have any hope of holding the majority. Yet at the same time, this is, in fact, energizing the anti-Trump backlash in the suburbs and beyond, potentially to the degree that will end up enabling Democrats to win.”
- Kobach might just win, putting the governor’s mansion and two Congressional seats in play. In Kansas we’re still awaiting for the final results of the GOP’s primary for Governor, where one of the nation’s leading anti-immigrant voices, Kris Kobach, is currently ahead by 191 votes. The incumbent governor, noting the “extraordinary problems with the count,” is waiting for all the votes to be counted. It should be noted that Kobach, as Secretary of State, is responsible for elections in the state. This result is the GOP’s worst nightmare. After the primaries, the Cook Report moved two races, the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts, to “toss-up” status.
- Keep your eye on Washington state. While much attention was focused on the race in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, which shouldn’t have been close — but was — Democrats showed strength in Washington state in its top-two primary, where three GOP-held seats had “pretty dismal” showings. Republican incumbents Jaime Herrera-Butler, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, and Dino Rossi showed weakness and lifted the spirits of their Democratic rivals.
- In Missouri, our friends in the progressive movement racked up major wins. The labor movement won a decisive victory when a right-to-work law was crushed by voters. In St. Louis County, Wesley Bell, a young African-American reformer, defeated incumbent Bob McCulloch, the man who refused to prosecute Mike Brown’s killer, in the primary for County Prosecutor.
- From Michigan, civil rights and immigrant advocate Rashida Tlaib is coming to Congress. She won the primary in the 13th Congressional District, previously held by John Conyers. She’s unopposed in November, so will be the first Muslim-American woman elected to Congress, bringing an important voice to the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
As we enter the final three months of the 2018 election, two things are clear: 1) Democrats have the momentum; and 2) Republicans are going to run ugly, race-baiting campaigns.
Democrats are winning because Trump is threatening our democracy and our cohesion; because Democrats are running on healthcare, education, retirement security and raising wages; and because the American people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Meanwhile, Trump and Stephen Miller want to distract voters by stoking racial fears, pointing fingers at people of color and blaming immigrants precisely because Democrats want to preserve the American experiment and want to talk about kitchen table issues that expose the Trump administration’s corruption, malevolence and incompetence.
We strongly recommend that progressives and Democrats take a both/and approach to this onslaught: on the one hand, stand up for immigrants and denounce the cruelty of the Trump policies of caging kids, deporting their parents and taking DACA from Dreamers; and, on the other hand, make it clear that Trump and the GOP are using these scare tactics to avoid talking about: 1) how GOP tax and economic policies are lining the pockets of the wealthy few while doing nothing to increase wages for the many; and 2) how the GOP agenda is leading to rising healthcare costs, defunded schools and threats to retirement security.
Trump is dangerous, the GOP refuses to check him, and the awesome power of our government is being corrupted to benefit the Trump family and the GOP’s donors. It’s up to all of us in the majority to stand up for an America that includes all of us, regardless of background or birthplace; that unites us across difference to tackle the big problems before us; and that extends equal opportunity and equal justice to each and every one of us, with no one left out or left behind.