My election forecast was far too optimistic for the Democrats, but hey – I’ve been predicting a Vikings Super Bowl win every year for the last forty years. This year is the first time I’ll be right!
My rose colored glasses aside, and despite gut wrenching close defeats in Florida, Texas, South Dakota and (it appears) Georgia, Democrats overall can be happy with Tuesday’s results. In the House the Democrats got 12 million more votes than Republicans, and their failure to take the Senate is no cause for dismay.
Indeed, going into this election the GOP was looking for big gains in the Senate. The Democrats were defending 24 seats due to a big year in 2012 – the GOP was defending only ten. As late as last year analysts were saying that Brown (OH), Menendez (NJ), Baldwin (WI), Kaine (VA) and Casey (PE) were prime targets. Some even thought the GOP could achieve a “filibuster proof Senate” with sixty seats.
As it was, the Democrats only lost in the most vulnerable places – red states like North Dakota, Missouri, and Indiana. Florida might be a loss, and that is a Democratic disappointment, but they held Montana, gained Nevada, and still could gain Arizona. In Texas it was close – something that would have seemed impossible a few years ago – and many Republican holds were competitive. The Democrats flipped eight governorships and it appears a number of states (including Maine) flipped to Democratic dominated state legislatures.
But for Democrats, the news gets better. In 2020 the Republicans are on defense in the Senate, defending 20 seats, almost twice as many as Democrats. At this point only Doug Jones of Alabama appears to be in danger – so the Democrats should have happy hunting in their Senate quest of 2020.
All of this depends on the environment of 2020, of course. If President Trump recovers and is strong in his re-election bid, then Republicans will probably defend most of their seats. If there is a strong, vibrant Democratic candidate, 2020 could be as big for the Democrats as 2008 was. Then the Republicans will hope 2022 would be like 2010.
That future, of course, is still quite uncertain. But for Democrats, winning at least 32 seats (and possibly as many as 40 once the dust settles) and regaining control of the House is a really big deal. The diversity of the candidates winning those seats – lots of women, gays and minorities – is an even bigger deal, and bodes well for the future.
Flipping a lot of governorships and winning state legislatures are very consequential wins. Losing only a couple Senate seats in very “red” states but holding on to most when defending 24 is really a win too. It was less than many hoped for, it allowed the President to save face, but as a friend put it: The country is a better on November 7th than it was on November 6th.