The bluing of America continues

The Thinker by Rodin

I’m still not done analyzing Election 2018. With each passing day as more races finally get called, it’s absolutely clear that the Blue Wave arrived on November 6th.

In the U.S. House, Democrats have picked up 36 seats officially. They lead in three others. Republicans lead in three others, but by tiny margins: less than 1000 votes in GA-7, 3000 in NY-27 and 1200 in TX-23. Right now this looks like a 39 seat gain for Democrats. Considering how gerrymandered districts are, this is astounding. Republicans would have been routed much worse if districts were drawn fairly. However, had districts been drawn fairly, it’s not clear that Republicans would have had a majority of seats in the current House at all. After the 2014 election, Republicans had a 30 seat majority; and after 2016, a 24 seat majority. Since 2014, it’s likely that Republicans maintained control of the House only because so many districts were highly gerrymandered.

November 6th has resulted in some amazing shifts. For example, Orange County in California has six U.S. house seats, now all filled by Democrats. This was where the Reagan anti-tax revolution was born. Before it was 4R-2D. Two of Nevada’s three seats are now blue. In Iowa, it was 3R-1D and is now 3D-1R. It shouldn’t be too surprising the California added six Democratic seats and New Jersey added 4. What’s more surprising is that Texas added 2 Democratic seats, Florida added 2, and Pennsylvania added 3. There were a few genuine surprises: a Democrat won OK-5, considered likely Republican district. They won one in nearby Kansas too. Utah looks likely to place a Democrat in the district containing Salt Lake City. The only place where things turned into a real fistfight was in Minnesota, which turned into a draw: Republicans flipped 2 Democratic seats while Democrats flipped 2 Republican seats.

In the U.S. Senate, Democrats are likely to lose a total of two seats, reducing their share to 47-53. They had to defend 25 of 34 seats, four of which were in deep red states (North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and West Virginia). Of those four they kept just West Virginia with Joe Manchin’s win. But Democrats defeated Dean Heller’s reelection bid in Nevada, and flipped retiring Jeff Flake’s Republican seat in Arizona giving it to a bisexual woman, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Republicans picked up no seats in states that were not already crimson red. Arizona is now a purple state, Texas is looking a bit purple with Ted Cruz’s narrow win and now Nevada looks reliably blue. In Florida, Democrats may have been their worst enemy thanks to a badly drawn ballot in populous Broward County where the Democrat Bill Nelson’s name appeared in a small box in the bottom left corner of a very tall ballot. Many Democrats who voted Democratic for governor missed this entirely; possibly resulting in what looks like Nelson’s loss.

Democrats look to pick up five governorships in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Nevada and Wisconsin. Three are particularly notable but today I’ll concentrate on Maine, where Janet Mills won convincingly, ending Paul LePage’s deeply divisive era (he left due to term limitations). This plus the pickup in of a house seat in Maine makes Maine less red and a bluer form of purple. One Republican “win” in Georgia looks highly suspicious. Brian Kemp oversaw his own election, disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters and set up fewer machines in heavily Democratic districts. It’s probably more accurate to say he would have lost if the election had been run fairly, as the margin of his victory was less than 60,000 votes.

Some other metrics are interesting. The U.S. House for the first time will have over a hundred women: 103 total, 4 of whom are nonvoting (delegates). Three members are Muslim, 2 are Native American, at least 11 are of Asian ancestry and 48 are black. So women are about 25% of the House now, nowhere close to the 51% of the population they represent but a sizable improvement. These statistics mirror the Senate’s, with 22 out of 100 senators women. Two are Asian, 3 are black and 4 are Hispanic. Overall the Senate does not look like America, with 88% of senators’ white.

Democrats now control 14 state legislatures. Republicans control 23 legislatures. Republicans flipped only one chamber: the Alaska House. Democrats picked up two state supermajorities. Perhaps more importantly than what Democrats gained was what Republicans lost. They lost supermajorities in the Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania. In North Carolina, Republicans lost supermajorities in both the state house and state senate.

In short it was an impressive election for Democrats by almost any metric. Republicans have plenty to fear in 2020. The nation is bluing up.

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