More gruel
1994 in Reverse

1994 in Reverse

I’m so fucking proud of you guys.” – Beto O’Rourke

For every tear shed last night over Beto or Gillum, a Democrat picked up a county board or state legislative seat. Down the ballot across a wide swath of the country, yesterday’s election was a national earthquake on a scale we haven’t seen since 1994.

Democrats had some success in 2006 and 2008 in Congressional races, but there hasn’t been a down ballot disruption on this scale in a generation. Cutting against the Democratic gains in the previous decade was the last stages of the flight of the Dixiecrats, as Republicans across the South were consolidating their local party switch. That dynamic has been exhausted. Republicans were trounced in Houston’s Harris County. Exurban voters in North Dallas ousted two powerful GOP State Senators. Democratic gains in suburbs and exurbs broke a Republican supermajority in the North Carolina legislature and cut into GOP control in the Texas and Georgia legislatures.

Away from Dixie the numbers were more stark. Chicago’s suburbs have been a pillar of GOP support since Lincoln. They’ve been wobbling at the top of the ticket since 2008, in a manner reminiscent of the South’s top-ticket splits that began in the 60’s. Last night the roof fell in on suburban Republicans all over the country and the impact in Chicago was stunning. Democrats won a majority of the county board seats on the ballot in suburban DuPage, home of the late Henry Hyde and the current Congressman Peter Roskam, placing them in striking distance of gaining control in 2020 for the first time in the county’s history. Seemingly uncompetitive Republican state house and Senate seats fell in DuPage, including a seat held by my state Senator.

Suburban voters in Chicago elected Lauren Underwood, a progressive, black woman to take Denny Hastert’s old seat. They also fired Peter Roskam. Suburban voters in deep red Orange County fired Putin’s favorite Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher.

Democrats picked up a Congressional seat in Oklahoma City’s suburbs. Kansas elected a Democratic Governor. Darrell Issa’s seat flipped to the Democrats. Dems swept gubernatorial races in many of the Rust Belt states that Trump won in ’16 and sliced into Republican state house majorities.

The story of the night is that Democrats appear to have reached a key pivot point in their suburban expansion. Meanwhile, America’s angry losers are embracing Fascism with an openness we’ve never before seen. The epicenter of American racism is shifting northward, as voters in Ohio, Indiana and Iowa doubled down on the GOP. Nazi Congressman, Steve King, survived a surprisingly close race to hold his seat in Iowa while all across Dixie’s racist Republicans were losing seats.

If your state has cities, and therefore suburbs, the Republicans there are either losing (outside the South) or on the ropes (in Dixie). If your state has no big cities (the empty west and Dixie), or has lots of dead and dying small towns like Ohio, Indiana and Missouri, your angry white losers went full-Nazi last night. In addition to re-electing cartoon Fascists like Steve King, Republicans elected several indicted thieves and frauds along with a dead pimp. Don’t go looking for a soul or a conscience among your Republican former friends. The good news is that their base is dying off. Younger voters turned out in record numbers and supported Congressional Democrats at nearly a 70% rate. This is a particularly important factor in Texas, Georgia and North Carolina, where an affluent, educated younger generation is starkly at odds with its elders and threatening a revolt.

In summary, those of us who are hoping for wide-ranging political change without a civil war had a very good night. The 2018 Election marked the first win in a necessary trifecta for the Resistance, culminating in 2022.

Take a breath. Get some rest. Then get ready. Starting in a few months we need to repeat the work we did last year. Our efforts paid off. We’re winning, but this is not over.


    1. Yeah, that’s making some news. His actions were petty and irresponsible, and validate the voters’ choice to replace him. But partisan elections are a bad way to pick judges. I’ve lived here long enough to see several waves (from each direction) wash out all/most of the judges from one party or the other. Good judges on both sides have been replaced by less qualified candidates.

      1. Unfortunately, appointing judges has its problems as well, as does ramming highly partisan, and not necessarily well qualified judges through superficial hearings. I’m ready for the pendulum to swing back hard to decency and fairness.

      2. “If only “ we had non-partisan elections…I prefer giving the people as many choices as possible but wish they made a better effort to make informed choices. It is difficult to evaluate judges unless you are in a related field.

      3. Someone once described a system of first appointing judges who, after a couple of years on the bench, had to run for office in order to keep being a judge — but not as a member of a party.

        Ideally, this could be good, if the voters were presented with the same information and data about each judge.

        The judge that threw the hissy fit was recently included in an article about judges who send the most Texas kids to juvenile prison.

        Having data and demographics about each court would certainly help voters.

  1. Beto O’Rourke beat Ted Cruz among native-born Texans, per exit polling
    Native-born Texans preferred Rep. Beto O’Rourke to Sen. Ted Cruz in Tuesday’s midterm election, a CNN exit poll found, while voters who had moved to Texas preferred Cruz.

    Why it matters: O’Rourke and Cruz had one of the hottest races of the midterms, but O’Rourke fell just short. Those same native-born voters preferred Republican Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday to his Democratic challenger. The O’Rourke-Cruz voters correlate with their chosen candidate — O’Rourke was born in El Paso, while Cruz was born in Canada.

    1. That poll data about new migrants choosing Cruz set me off because it exposes a myth about Texas migration.

      Myth – Texas is filling up with people abandoning California.

      Reality – Texas’ domestic migration is mostly rednecks pouring in from elsewhere in Dixie.

      For starters, the bulk of the growth of Texas’ cities comes from draining the state’s rural countryside, a dynamic in which Texas is about a century behind most of the rest of the country. If no one moved to Texas from anywhere else for the next 10 years, the state’s big-4 population centers would probably still grow by about 30% just from people leaving the state’s relatively populous countryside.

      During the peak years of domestic migration to TX (just after the great recession) about 2/3 of migration to Texas was domestic. Most of that came from elsewhere in Dixie. Inbound migration from CA was substantial for a few years during the great recession and has slowed to a trickle since. It still looks large, bc CA is huge, but it pales in comparison to drain TX is placing on the rest of the South.

      In ’15, the peak for TX population growth, about 62K people moved from CA to TX. Well over twice as many people moved to TX just from FL, OK, LA, VA, MO and GA (145K). IL and NY accounted for another 50K migrants, still leaving the overall Yankee migration behind local migration from the South.

      Domestic inflows have slowed significantly since about ’14, now accounting for less than half of the state’s growth. Most new migrants now are foreign-born, but even that migration is decreasing. The big years of the state’s population boom are over and they probably aren’t coming back.

      Why do people move to Texas? For the same reasons they move to FL or AZ. It’s cheap and warm. Texas attracts marginally more working age migrants than FL or AZ, but not by much. A large proportion of America’s sun belt migration is now a product of demographics – the great wave of boomer retirements. People aren’t moving to TX or FL to have big, exciting careers in tech or corporate mgmt. You go to CA or NY or MA for that. They go to Texas because they failed in one of those competitive, lucrative places, or because they are at the end of their careers. Mostly the latter.

      Texans love the “California Influx” lie because it soothes their gnawing insecurities. The truth is that Texas is America’s developing country, a chaotic, cheap, fast-growing under-economy, a place companies like to locate their less-skilled, less-critical operations to take advantage of freedom to pollute, low taxes, and an abundance of low-skilled cheap labor.

      Why do most Texas migrants prefer Cruz over Beto? Because most of them come from places even more backward and bigoted than Texas.

      A few links on Texas migration:

      1. I’d add that even the immigrants from California are generally lower income people: either middle class getting pushed out of the increasingly expensive urban areas, or lower-class getting pushed out of rural areas as development spreads from the urban cores. People forget that California is basically a thin sliver of blue (~50 miles wide inland from the ocean), with the rest being basically deep red farming / uninhabited desert / military bases / toxic wastelands.

        I bet a big chunk of the CA migration to Texas is from smaller farming towns that are going bust and people are leaving. That chunk is closer to Kentucky and Alabama politically, than they are to the rest of the state.

      2. Bingo. California is basically exporting its lower income citizens to other states, most notably Texas, Nevada and Arizona.

        What’s interesting though is that California’s rate of net migration is actually more favorable than it’s been at any point in recent history. The net migration rate is almost even for the first time since about the 70’s. Why? Because California is draining the country of high-earners and the highly educated. Total in-migration from high-earners is pretty intense.

        Basically, CA is exporting white, low-income Republicans and importing racially diverse, high-earning Democrats. Along with NY, WA and MA, it is evolving into an elite enclave, hard to get into and hard to stay in. People end up in places like Arizona and Texas when they lose that contest.

        That’s not a great thing. The state could do a lot to ease the exit pressure by loosening constraints on new high-density construction, particularly in the Bay Area. It would be a good idea, but it’s pretty unpopular.

      3. Exactly. I remember when I first lived in Orange County and saw how expensive housing was, I always thought to myself “what does everyone do around here to afford the housing?” And then I realized: most don’t. That is, as long as you’re employed, you spend every dollar on housing. But the minute you lose your job, or your salary is downgraded, you leave, either to cheaper places like the Inland Empire, or to Arizona. It doesn’t make sense to try to survive more than a few months of unemployment / poor employment in high cost places like SoCal and NorCal, so people leave quite quickly. Conversely, lots of people who had beach houses in Malibu and Newport Beach made their money elsewhere, and when they got rich enough to essentially retire on their wealth, they decamped to the beach communities.

        When you look around and see this insanely expensive cost of living, it’s an extreme example of survivorship bias. It masks a troubling amount of churn in which you can’t ever stumble or else you’re forced to leave to make place for the 10 other people that want their chance at the california lottery.

        You’re right that it isn’t a good thing. We need people of all incomes to have a functioning economy. Have you heard of the YIMBY (yes in my backyard) movement in NorCal? I do think the tide is slowly shifting to support high density housing, if only because people making 100-200k in NorCal are getting pushed out now. It’s incredibly stupid to contemplate that for all the breathless talk about Silicon Valley, the metropolitan Chicago area has about the same number of people and a slightly higher GDP than the SF/Oakland/San Jose metropolitan area, and manages that with far lower costs of living, mainly because of the density of land use. We’ll have to see if CA finally comes to its senses or strangles even high wage industries like Silicon Valley and Hollywood into seeking cheaper homes.

        BTW, did you catch Rahm Emmanuel’s analysis of the election:

      4. Didn’t know Rahm Emanuel was this pragmatic. Really smart observations about what Dems must do to expand and strengthen its urban/sur burban coalition to counter the GOP effort to compete for the same population. I suspect he will be in the thick of this fray after he completes his mayoral term.

      5. Is some of the reason behind the California invasion story because the righties are focusing too much on Austin? It’s the bluest part of the state, it’s attracting high skill people, and the rent is getting too damn high.

      1. I’ve been told that the post office yesterday delivered properly dated 10K county-wide mail-in ballots.

        And there’s something going on with provisional ballots, too.

        This could be meaningful for some candidates. My fav candidate lost his contest with a 15-year incumbent by 137 votes.

      2. Let us hope….for the best.

        Here’s an excellent (sobering) mid-term recap of all states, plus excellent analysis of what is happening in FL to keep Dems from being more successful.

  2. Personally, I view this election result as a mixed bag. Obviously I’m glad that the Dems took the House: it was a massive achievement given how big of a structural disadvantage they faced, and it’s a real change in the balance of power, much more important than the Repubs gaining a few seats in the Senate.

    But overall, the Dems underperformed expectations in all counts, the popular vote totals, total # of house seats won, and most importantly, in the Senate. This could be dismissed as just the difficulty of accurately polling the modern electorate. But I think it’s more. The country has become far more polarized.

    The idea of Democratic Senators from red states is dying quickly. The fact that Jon Tester, such a perfect fit for Montana, had to fight for his life, and people like Heitkamp and Donnelly lost, means, IMHO, the Senate will be Republican-held for the foreseeable future, because of the rural bias inherent in the Senate. I don’t see how Dems can overcome this polarization until the cities in the rural states, small as they are, become big enough to overwhelm the dying rural areas (Which is happening, but will likely take a few more cycles to turn places like Missouri and Iowa).

    Similarly, if you look at the number of trifectas each party has (control of governorship and both state legislatures), what strikes me isn’t the Dem/Repub breakdown but the rapid decline of states *without* trifectas. That is, it used be incredibly hard to get a trifecta, due to ticket-splitting, popular candidates from other parties, etc. Now, the majority of states have trifectas. It’s actually unusual to see a divided state government. Big states like NY/CA/IL were almost always divided. Now, they’re not just trifectas but approaching supermajority Democratic dominance. Of course, I’m glad it’s the Dems winning these states, but it points to hardening partisanship.

    The Dems may prove me wrong. There are plenty of states still in play (primarily the mountain west e.g. AZ, midwest, and southeast e.g. NC), but I think the Dems will have a harder time breaking through this polarization than they think. (Of course, it works both ways: Republicans elected a dead brothel owner in NV, Dennis Hof, but Dems elected Menendez in NJ).

    The larger issue is, now what? Could anyone here tell me what the Dems stand for after this massive victory? Yes, they’ll investigate Trump, which is absolutely necessary. But what is their plan for the country? I understand nothing will get done due to gridlock, but people always know at least what the Republicans *want* to do. And this will be important for 2020. If a guy like me who follows politics closely can’t tell you what the Dems stand for, it’s pretty bad. When Trump got elected, he was going to build the wall, reverse trade deals, and put those uppity minorities in their place. What do Dems stand for? Even their signature issue, healthcare. Are they going to push for Medicare-for-all? I have no clue. What does “protect Obamacare” mean? What about trade? When a party espouses both an old-school pro-union, pro-tariff guy like Sherrod Brown and a Wall St. bootlicker like Chuck Schumer, I agree with Chris that the Dems look more like a refugee camp than a cohesive party. IOW, even losing to a buffoon like Trump and facing his indignities for 2 years hasn’t forced the Dems to walk in the wilderness and figure out who they truly want to be. Their day of reckoning is still yet to come.

    On the plus side, I’m glad Beto did so well. Despite the polls, I thought Beto would lose by >5 points. Historically, Dems in Texas always dramatically underperform the polls. His campaign had coattails in down races, and helped rebuild a party infrastructure. If Texas is really that close, 2020 might finally be the year that it becomes a battleground.

    1. actually as the final results come in, the fivethirtyeight projections were actually very close. So while i was wishing that the dems would do better, the dems pretty much met statistical expectations, maybe not the wishful expectations some of us had.

      first: fivethirtyeight correctly predicted that the house would go to the dems and the reps keep the senate.

      the house they got really well:
      they projected +39 dem house seats and the latest estimate is +37 with some assumptions on the remaining races to be called.

      on the senate they slightly under estimated republican changes
      they projected + 0.5 rep senate seats compared to what will most likely be +3
      the only two senate races they got wrong were florida (still not sure yet) and indiana. all the others they had right or they were given close to 50:50 chances.

      and for governors the only one that they had wrong was also florida. all the others were labelled as tossups and each party won about half of those toss ups.

      I know the election night started out feeling like the polls were super off again, but looking at the picture now with the exception of florida (which is in recount margin area) there really were not that many huge deviations from what was projected.

      election results including projection on remaining races to be called

      senate forecast on day of election:

      house forecast on day of election:

      governor forecast on day of election:

      1. One of the tools I used in my job was statistics. There is always a margin of error. But also bias errors . Most of the elections were in the margin of error but too many in the same direction. To me that would be a red flag to check my method of data collection, data manipulation and equipment calibration. There seems to be biases going on somewhere. We may get some interesting results with recounts. And this time the US Supreme Court cannot interfere. We shall see.

    2. WX asks> What do Dems stand for? Even their signature issue, healthcare. Are they going to push for Medicare-for-all? I have no clue.

      How much specificity do you want? Democrats could write a several thousand page bill, but there’s no point in the House voting on it. I’d expect leading Democrats to coalesce around a few issues to be pounded on in 2020:
      yup, Medicare for all
      Voting rights
      Women’s reproductive rights
      Criminal justice reform

      That’s probably two more issues than the average voter can hold in their head at the same time.

      1. Greg-
        I’m actually not looking for specificity. I know the Dems can come up with 1000-page proposals for basically every political issue. In fact, they can come up with *3* 1000-page proposals for each issue. That’s their problem.

        I fully understand that ultimately things have to be translated into 1000-page books of regulations and instructions. But voters don’t respond to 1000-page proposals. They respond to stories and explanations of values. And someone who will stand for whatever values they purport to espouse. Trump put together a very compelling story — about an America under siege by foreign immigrants and liberal, urban traitors within — with just a few values (values and stories that I personally find abhorrent, but they were compelling to a large swathe of America). He didn’t need details. And to his credit, he’s still plugging away at many of those things (cutting taxes, building the wall, imprisoning illegal immigrants, etc.).

        Regarding the list you put together, I’ll agree with you on women’s reproductive rights. Since at least the start of this century, the Dems have become solidly pro-choice, pro-women’s reproductive rights. And they have shown a willingness to fight for those positions win or lose (e.g. their battles to protect Planned Parenthood).

        But I don’t know about Medicare for all. Speaker-elect Pelosi has actually come out against it, several times. Minority leader Schumer has been very noncommital. That’s the two highest Dems who have been very, very cool to Medicare for all. Maybe by 2020 they’ll come up with a position, but right now, I have no idea whether the Dems will push for Medicare for all, or just a mealy-mouthed set of “bipartisan” measures to fix Obamacare around the margins (a-la a 1000-page proposal that makes most people fall asleep).

        Re: voting rights. Exactly what do you mean? Protecting the Voting Rights Act is the only real federal issue. Otherwise, voting access is primarily a state issue. And even the VRA will largely be litigated in the courts. I don’t see much of a position for them to espouse.

        re: criminal justice reform. Again, what do you mean? Legalizing marijuana? Removing mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines? Reducing prison rape? All worthy goals. But unless they’re wrapped up into a compelling story about why we should care how we treat criminals and accused criminals, no one will care.

        And what about the economy? Are Dems pro- or against free trade? How does a party contain both Sherrod Brown and Chuck Schumer and claim to have an internally consistent economic policy?

        To be fair, there are a lot of things Dems are unified around (e.g. environment, renewable energy, etc.). But it just doesn’t make a compelling story because on the big issues of the day, they’ve been schizophrenic and cautious. Like the fact that very few democrats spoke at any Occupy Wall St. event because they were so scared of pissing off their Wall St. patrons. Or that they decried GWB phonetapping US citizens without warrants while being mum on Obama ordering assassinations of US citizens without trial.

      2. How come when Republicans yell about “Immigrants are stealing our jobs!” and “The liberals want to take away your guns!” and turn out +7.5% votes everyone’s all like, “These guys really know how to rally up people’s anxieties and fears” but when the Democrats are like, “These guys literally vote to take away your retirement and healthcare” and “the conservatives are stealing your wages and giving them to billionaires” it’s all like “Y u no good storytellers y u try to run on boring things like laws?”

      3. Aaron-
        Because when Republicans say those things, they mean it. When they’re elected, they go about implementing those things. You can trust a Republican who says he’s going to build the wall.

        When Dems say their things, no one believes them. Take away your retirement? Remember that the catfood commission, the architect of the “Grand Bargain” that would cut entitlements to reduce the deficit, was commissioned by Obama. That was what Obama wanted his crowning achievement to be, a “bipartisan” plan to gut SS and Medicare.

        Healthcare? Dems bargained away the public option with health insurance companies *before they even began negotiating the ACA*. Even now, they dismiss Medicare for all despite massive majorities being in favor of it. When Rahm Emmanuel as chief of staff called opponents of the ACA delusional obstructionists, he wasn’t talking about Republicans. He aimed his epithets at liberals who were so disgusted with Obama bargaining away so much on Obamacare without even a single Republican vote to show for it.

        Here is a truth that Democrats don’t want to face, something that Chris has hinted at and is absolutely right: since the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) — of which Bill Clinton was the chair — took over the Democratic party, it has become *more* beholden to Wall St. than the Republicans. The deregulation of Wall St. that set the stage for the global financial crisis was largely done under Clinton. When GWB’s administration proposed raining trillion dollar blank checks on Wall St. to bail them out, Republican rank-and-file members were in open revolt against their own President, and it was the *Democrats* who carried his water in Congress (including a young Democratic Presidential hopeful named Obama who was in charge of whipping one of the critical votes in support of the bailout while he was on the campaign trail railing against Wall St “fat cats”).

        When McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform was being debated, most of the Democrats were in quiet opposition, secretly seething inside that an iconoclast like Feingold (The only Senator with the guts to vote against the Patriot Act after 9/11) was pushing for this. Why? Because the dirty secret in DC was that the Democratic party was actually *more* dependent on large-dollar contributions from wealthy donors and corporations than the Republican party was.

        After the debacle of 2016, in which everyone universally acknowledged that Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall St, her unwillingness to criticize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, embrace Medicare for all, etc. provided the opening for Bernie *and* Trump, the Democratic party, in a moment of supreme introspection, decided to elect Chuck Schumer, who never met a Wall St. banker he didn’t like (or shake down) as the highest elected Democrat of the land, stepping *over* a liberal Dick Durban D-IL who was actually next in line based on seniority. And that wasn’t *despite* his Wall St. ties, it was *because* of them, and the fundraising prowess that implied.

        Democrats tell plenty of stories. Problem is no one believes them, least of all the very Democrats telling them. Say what you will about wingnuts, but they at least *believe* the BS they spout, and will fight for it until the day they die (or are voted out). When Democrats claim they fight for Social Security while their President is pushing for a Grand Bargain that even John Boehner rejected as too austere, then are you surprised no one believes the Democrats’ stories, or accept that they truly mean what they say?

        Obama crystallized this in many, many ways, but it reached its perfect form when he convened the titans of Wall St. in his office, in the depths of the financial crisis, when even guys like Blankfein and Dimon were cautiously advocating increased regulation, and told them that “I’m the only one standing between you guys and the pitchforks”. Excuse me??? I didn’t know they’re the guys that voted for you. You’re supposed to be taking the pitchfork to them. Not protecting them from the rest of us.

        The Republicans blamed the financial crisis on black people wanting to get mortgages. It was ridiculous, but it had their traditional scapegoats, and for their base, it made complete sense. Exactly what story did the Democrats tell about the global financial crisis? Who was to blame in their narrative? And did it actually reflect in their actions, in which not a single Wall St. CEO went to jail? Of course not. There was no way they could blame their donors for the mess they made, even as their voters were calling for their severed heads on a pike.

        To this day, I don’t know who Chuck Schumer blames for the financial crisis. As the highest elected official of the Democratic Party, that is pretty damning. And if you take a guy who lost his house, his job, and his health insurance through no fault of his own, if the Republicans propose black people as the target of your fury, and the Dems propose… no one, is it surprising that people chose black people to blame?

        Anyway, sorry for the rant, but it’s so frustrating. IMHO, the Democrats don’t know what they stand for, aside from saving their own jobs. Because they’re so dependent on corporate cash while their public raison-d’etre is to serve in opposition to those interests. That’s why they’re constantly threading a line between the two, resulting in mealy-mouthed, half-assed measures that end up pissing off both sides. How can you raise the ire of the voters against the donors who fund your campaigns? How can you tell a good story to the people against them knowing you need their check the next month? The answer is, you don’t. Which is where the Democratic party finds itself today.

        While it is absolutely necessary to go after Trump right now, if the Dems don’t spend the next two years building a case for what they actually stand for, and then *show* it, even by passing stuff that never gets through the Senate, then don’t be surprised if Trump or Pence wins 2020 along with sweeping Congress and the statehouses again. Democrats have spent 20 years campaigning on “I’m not as bad as the other guy”, and losing to progressively bigger buffoons. If they decide to double down on that strategy, don’t be surprised if it fails, yet again.

    3. WX you are correct to ask what Dems platform/agenda will be. I have given them a pass in years past (and current) because they were fighting for their lives in a majority GOP Congressional administration. Having Obama as a backstop helped but mostly, Dems have been on defense for years. Trump hasn’t made it easier nor have the Republicans.

      So, here we are – grassroots engaged (even if the numbers disappointed in some critical areas – they exceeded in other areas) and it seems the Dem base is pretty clear about what they want: healthcare that is affordable and accessible; equality of race, gender, sexual preference; jobs that pay a living wage; repair of our fraying infrastructure; approval of DACA residents for permanent status; immigration reform (this one is a little squishy but we are all so tired of the constant turmoil); adequately funded public education and lower costs for higher ed; protection of the safety net for seniors and the poor – Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security etc; protection of our environment; closing loopholes in our gun laws…

      It would seem this list offers a clear template for the party. Both McConnell and Trump have thrown down the gauntlet threatening House Democrats with all sorts of mahem if they have the temerity to go after Trump or any of the “sacred” GOP changes. I say “it’s time,” and I think that is what you are saying as well. Stand “for” something – fight for it, and your base will reward you. Heck – they should expect it after the effort we just saw from so many in the field.

      I’m encouraged to see so many women involved in the political arena – both as newly elected officials and in every neighborhood. That is going to pay dividends. Our young people turned out in far greater numbers than ever before, and they certainly are trending left on social issues. This genie ain’t goin’ back in the bottle. There will be those who are burned out or just have given up who won’t stick around to fight through to 2020. Can’t worry about that. Let’s try to be realistically optimistic while clearly pressing our MoC to work on “our” priorities. Trump is such a dangerous distraction that it’s easy to get sucked into his chaotic orbit. Can’t do that. Nose to the ground, let’s fight for what we know our country and its people need and want – and it isn’t xenophobia, nationalism, and tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest at the expense of programs that help the vast majority of Americans.

      If ever there was a time to “go for it”; it is now.

      1. Mary-
        After my last rant, let me back up and say there *are* certain things that the Dems do agree on, that they craft good stories around, and that people believe them about. I’d say reproductive rights, the environment, renewable energy, gun control, and science/rationality (for lack of a better word).

        But, to tell you the truth, that’s all I can think of. Even immigration is controversial. DACA is non-controversial, but everything else is. There are lots of blue collar Democrats who don’t want to open the borders to more people competing with them. There are lots of tech workers in Silicon Valley who grumble about H1Bs and outsourcing.

        And that leaves out the big issues of the day. The Dems are all over the place on economic issues. There’s a big fight brewing over Medicare for all, something that was papered over as long as they didn’t have the power to pass something. I expect a knock-down battle between people positioning themselves for a 2020 presidential run (who will be pro-Medicare-for-all) and the rest of the caucus who still need donations from insurance companies to fund their campaigns. I’m not sure which side will win. But either way, the Dems will lose.

        Even cheaper college is such a hot-button issue for Democrats, which drives me up the wall. Paying for a 4-year public college (or vocational training) is such a great policy (investing for 4 years in the productive capacity of your citizens which will pay off for decades in higher tax collections from their increased salaries), and it makes such a great story (anyone who wants to study hard and pursue the American Dream won’t be held back by your humble origins or current hardships), and yet the Dems run around wringing their hands about costs, allowing the Republicans an opening to define it as “just another handout to the free shit army”. Every study has shown that the GI Bill returns many multiples in increased tax collections compared to the outlay. We can do it for soldiers, *making money in the process*, and yet we can’t do it for everyone else?

        So yes, there are issues that the Dems could be great on. There are also a *ton* that they are still wandering through the wilderness about. Do the former create a strong enough package to run on? Or will the Dems finally do the hard work of crafting a coherent policy on the rest of the issues as well? I guess we’ll see…

    4. Chris has often stated that our confusion over people “appearing” to vote against their “best” interests is really a lack of understanding of what is driving the voting decisions of this segment of America.
      Rural America is a case in point: Why do they continue to vote for Republicans? WX exposes the deficiencies of democratic leadership pretty clearly in his post and this article reinforces his argument. Too many people are working incredibly hard to bring change to waste effort or fail to honestly focus on underlying problems. We simply don’t have the luxury of time to waste in this battle for a better nation for all. I’m proud of what was accomplished in this election but we all know how much more remains to be done and so do republicans. This is war.

  3. so Nate Silver just did the analysis I was planning to do on my own. I trust his is more accurate for sure 🙂

    It shows that based on the imperfect house popular vote, the dems would have gotten 314 electoral college votes on Tuesday, with the midwest except for Ohio falling back to Democrats.

    However, it’s also interesting that Florida shows as blue even though De Santis and Scott won, so there must have been a fair amount of ticket splitters. The same for Iowa where the house popular vote goes to the democrats but a republican governor was elected. So it’s not just all partisan, candidates still matter too …

    1. The senate race in Florida is going to a recount. Possible a hand recount. It was that close. And very close for a recount on the Govenor race. It seems many votes in South Florida were not counted. It would be so poetic justice for Scott to lose by a few thousand votes as he has always won by less than 1%.

  4. One more thought about this election: Sure people are heartbroken that inspiring candidates lost – especially those who got involved in political activism for the first time in their lives.

    But, the greatest accomplishment of the large Democratic turnout is that Americans needed to see that democracy can work and how it “can” work. Trust in our nation’s government has been badly eroded. We have millions of newly involved people who will never sit on the couch in another election. They have seen that every vote matters and that through hard work they can educate, register and motivate others to vote. That’s huge.

    The challenges going forward are many – people are exhausted and many terribly disappointed, but one thing is certain: They are forever changed in their political awareness. That is major.

    1. “We have millions of newly involved people who will never sit on the couch in another election. They have seen that every vote matters and that through hard work they can educate, register and motivate others to vote. That’s huge.”

      Don’t be so sure, Mary. Millions of people came out to vote for Obama in 2008 and stayed home in 2010. That’s why we lost the House. The party can’t take these new voters for granted. They have to continually inspire people and get them excited, or else all those new voters will go back to whatever they were doing before.

      1. Of course not, but there was the whole “Obamacare” fear-monghering along with pretty slick manipulation of an American public who were convinced a Black president was incapable of leading the nation.

        I agree that keeping newly involved people engaged is always risky, but I don’t believe for a minute that women are fooled nor that Black people (admittedly low voter turnout because, why?) and Hispanic and other non-Caucasians have any illusions about the GOP agenda. Young people are always a mixed bag in terms of turnout but with progressive candidates, they can be motivated to participate and vote.

        I’m thinking positively, WX, because to do anything else is futile.

    1. I saw that late last night. Great news. I’m hoping we win a few more seats as a
      counting completes. Happy that this new Congress will have greater ethnic diversity and more women – who, by the way – are strong, and assertive or they would never have run much less won.

  5. A couple of quick points.

    With votes still being counted in a few places, Democrats won with a massive popular vote margin, +7.1.

    What does that mean in terms of scale? That’s larger than the Republicans’ margin in 2014 and the same as the Republican margins in 1994 and 2010.

    This further reinforces the power of the GOP Congressional firewall. To get a real sweep of Congress (more than about a 35-seat advantage) Dems would need to rack up a staggering advantage.

    1. So Chris, what give you hope for 2020?
      If the perfect storm in the electorate (7.1% margin) translates into so few seats, relatively speaking, what happens in 2020, when the fascists have consolidated even more?

      Or, do you think the Dem’s will be able to, or willing to, use the same ruthless tactics that the fascists do wrt to suppression and gerrymandering? Because I sure don’t see it, with any reformations crashing against the wall known as SCOTUS.

      1. Dins-
        First, 2020 is a Presidential year, in which Dem turnout is almost always higher than Repubs. And Trump will be on the ballot. I’d say the electorate will probably be about as fired up then as they are now. So the possibility of holding our gains (and even adding to them) is very real.

        Not to mention the Senate map is much more favorable for Dems in 2020 to pick up a few seats (although after this week’s losses, it will be harder to regain the majority).

        And re: dem’s ruthlessness, absolutely. When the Dems got control of IL after 2000, they put in an absolutely brutal gerrymander that turned a half dozen seats and cemented legislative majorities:

        The Dems now control NY. Expect a similar result.

        The only problem is that redistricting won’t occur until 2022. So we’re stuck with current maps. But if we add to our statehouse gains in 2020, we could cement House dominance for a decade. Remember that Dems don’t need a brutal gerrymander to win: we already win the popular vote. We just need an equal playing field. Even divided statehouses would be enough for us to win. Gerrymandering would just give us a bigger majority.

    2. A part of me wonders if it isn’t the gerrymandering itself that will eventually build up so much Animus that it finally wipes away the GOP.

      It’s easy enough for gloating trolls on Twitter to chortle, “That’s just the way our system works as our Founding Fathers intended, deal with it snowflake!” but even the most repressive of illiberal democratic leaders know the voting numbers should look like they are amazingly popular.

      As year after year the national vote count continues to be 50+% for Dems but the Dems leadership count continues to be <50%, and fractally across county, state, and country, it builds a case that the system is rigged not in the debates about how the vote is implimented but in pure data that can be shown in court and shared again and again and again until people get very frustrated and a narrative change occurs. It's easier to hide gerrymandering when the government flips back and forth, which it may continue to, but if one party is perpetually the minority party while always winning the popular vote, physics sez that balloon is gonna pop.

      1. You keep talking about the balloon popping, the day of reckoning.

        Why? If the balloon has not popped already, given the regime that is in place now, what will trigger it?

        Every day I have less hope that the coup will be countered. The country is a de facto dictatorship today, not two years, not 10 years from now.

      2. I expect republicans will rush to pack ultra conservatives in the judiciary to thwart legal challenges to existing gerrymandering and other means of voter suppression. However, except for those states that block statewide referendums, the people will have an opportunity to change the voting process in their states. It will take time but that is the beauty of engaging and training so many new people at the grassroots level. Dems took control of six state legislatures and broke the majority control in a couple of others. I expect Chris will develop the mechanics of local control in future posts as the results are aggregated.
        Republicans “Operation Red Map” will have to be dismantled. Speaking for myself, I want election processes that are simple; accountable and accessible to encourage more Americans to vote. I trust that voting percentages will improve if the process is easier. Mail in, electronic etc are utilized for important business transactions. There is no reason why voting should be difficult except to disenfranchise people.
        Rebuilding at the local and state level is most important re gerrymandering and voting rules. Dems flipped a number of gubernatorial positions as well and having the power of the veto as well as the capacity to negotiate with legislative leaders is hugely important.
        As disappointing as it was that many fine candidates list their elections (Tester won in late counting btw) , good things did happen.
        January can’t come soon enough.

      3. Doug Muder (Weekly Sift) agrees with you on gerrymandering. He points out that the Democratic gains would have been as large as Republicans in 2010 had it not been for gerrymandering. Despite winning milions more votes, Democrats will eck out almost half as many House wins….The grassroots militia that gave their all in this mid term election for Democratic seats in Congress, are seeing first-hand how the deck is stacked against one man-one vote representation.

        The gutless Republican members of Congress are going to “get theirs”. Trump embarassed America in France, and he is endangering their political empire. They all need to go, and hopefully, 2020 will see much greater Democratic turnout (49% may be a mid-term record but it is still abysmal given the dire political environment we face) and more disenchanted Independents and conservatives bailing from the Republican Party.

        Two links worthy of your time.

  6. The markets strong rise today sends a clear signal: it likes what happened last night. I’ll leave it for the market pundits among us to delve more deeply into “what” they like and why.

    I was keenly disappointed with the loss by some truly outstanding candidates – Gillum, o’Roarke, and possibly Abrams, Cordray, Heitkamp and McCaskill as well as others seeking smaller positions. It is helpful to read Chris’ positive analysis. I do worry about the next two months and the damage trump and the gop have plans for, but all we can do now is hand on and be greatful that in January we will finally have one arm of government that will not roll over for trump.

    1. I could probably play a competent hand at finance punditry at this point merely because I have been I’m messed in the production of it recently. But the post-election jump never really means anything more fundamental than finance people were sitting around waiting to see the results and then triggered their purchases based on them.

    2. On my same note, much has been made of the stock market rally right after 45 was elected.

      Exact same thing would have happened if Clinton was. Or Bernie. Or McMullin. Doesn’t matter. What changes are WHICH stocks lead the rally based on expectations, but those rallies are pretty much smoothed over by real shit later.

  7. Great article–this is what I feel most of the commentary is missing out on. The house win was important, in order to help take back the press agenda with a 24 month drumbeat of constant reporting on Trump’s corruption, racism, and policy failures. But recovering from the nadir we had reached will be a decades-long process which only began in earnest with this election. Making real downballot inroads into the sunbelt and west was huge. Thanks for spotlighting it! Let’s all stay the course, and put out this effort in 2020, 2022, 2024, and beyond.

  8. I quickly reviewed this column and wanted to make a brief comment regarding the down ballot success. I view that as extremely critical and will make a big difference going forward. For example, in WA in 2017 the D’s took control of the state senate by one vote. Just the unified state government made a major difference in resolving some issues that the R’s had been blocking for several years. That was in a shortened non-budgetary off-year legislative session early this year. We have gained seats in both the house and senate, so next year when the next biennium begins, should be considerably more productive.

    Also it appears that WA flipped the 8th CD and the 3rd

    1. Let me pickup, where I hit the return button.

      Although, both the 8th CD (Schrier vs. Rossi) and the 3rd CD (Herrera-Beutler) haven’t been called, it appears that the 8th will flip, while the 3rd will be retained by the R’s. McMorris-Rodgers will retain her seat.

  9. Hopefully there’ll be no more political ads on mainline TV for a good while. The week leading up to Election Day and the Monday before, shows like Wheel Of Fortune had commercial breaks that were wall-to-wall political ads. Do you think that Vanna White and Pat Sajak are aware of how the ad space around their show is used as one of the ugliest televised political battlegrounds out there? I’d love to know what they think about that.

    Texas Democrats gained some seats in the House. This has some implications for the election of the House Speaker. Hopefully we can get one that’s assertive enough to tell Patrick and Abbott that we don’t need a repeat of the cockamamie “bathroom bill”, a repeat that’ll cause massive gridlock, and if passed would make Texas a laughingstock as well as a business and event pariah. Ron Simmons, the author of said bill, was voted out of office, a refreshing textbook example of people making bad decisions facing consequences. Here’s hoping that cooler heads can prevail in the upcoming session.

  10. Filed under “told you so”, returning GOP Congresscritter Ryan Costello vents on Twitter over Donny2Scoops kicking losing GOP candidates while they are down:

    “To deal w harassment & filth spewed at GOP MOC’s in tough seats every day for 2 yrs, bc of POTUS; to bite ur lip more times you’d care to; to disagree & separate from POTUS on principle & civility in ur campaign; to lose bc of POTUS & have him piss on u. Angers me to my core.”

    “Disagreeing & separating” was a wishy-washy, trying-to-have-it-both-ways response to something that was so obviously morally reprehensible. Zero sympathy for any of you wimps.

  11. And as people here celebrate this supposed “win”, the puppet tyrant just rolls on, firing the AG, and installing another loyalist, who will starve Mueller of funds, effectively ending the investigation.

    You had your 14 hours of democracy working, now the rush towards a dictatorship continues, and the new Congress can do nothing about it. If you think investigations into the puppet tyrant will have any impact, think again. As long as the Senate and the judiciary back this regime, the monster is untouchable.

      1. Chris: Donny Moron in handcuffs in 12 days? By what mechanism do you see that?

        Fly: EVERYONE saw the Sessions firing coming, and a hardcore loyalist being installed. But as to the House taking up the charge, you can rest assured, just like the House going after the tax returns, the puppet tyrant will run to SCOTUS to ignore precedent and the rule of law to protect him.

        The judiciary being subverted to evil has always been the prize, and we will very shortly see the results of McConnell’s treachery.

  12. It is a damn shame that the better man lost the TX Senate race, but I don’t see the time I spent on politics this cycle as wasted, because Beto did have some coattails. Without him, I don’t think Lizzie Fletcher flips TX7. He probably helped Allred gain some breathing room too. Sadly he couldn’t give Kulkarni inTX22 enough if s boost, which is especially sad for me because Sri was one of the finest candidates I’ve ever seen on my ballot. But all the Dems running for county office in Ft. Bend prevailed, so add that to Harris.

    I do have a bit of regret for Harris Co. Judge Ed Emmett getting swept away in the wave. He might be the only GOPer I’d consider voting for, but I’m not a Harris Co. resident anymore. He also ran TV ads that were positive, classy, and had a bit of humor, which were a huge contrast to most of them. For every GOP dog whistle (NANCY PELOSI!!! OPEN BORDERS!!! LIBERAL AGENDA!!! LIBERAL MOB!!!), I’d yell “DRINK!!!” back at the TV. Had I been playing an actual drinking game, I would have died last month from alcohol poisoning.

    I have a lot of friends in TX7; saw one on the way to lunch and congratulated her on the upgrade. I’m hoping Sri runs again in 2020, because I’m ready to canvass for him again.

    1. Yeah, I’ve voted for Emmett in the past. But this time around I asked myself if he’s such a great guy, why is he still a Republican, the party of cruelty and hatred and incompetence? And why is Harris County going to court over their bail system, which experts say discriminates against the poor? He could’ve done that differently.

      Re the ads, personally, I found his “grandpa’ commercial a little disrespectful as in “I’m so great I’m not even going to say I want the job”.

      Electing one of them just encourages the rest of them.

      Like you, I hope Sri runs again. He’s a rather spectacular individual.

      1. What I liked about Emmett was that he took science seriously, and that matters a lot to me. But “why is he still with the GOP?” is a fair point. Anyone with integrity/ ability to acknowledge unpleasant realities is being selected against as GOPers, whether they resign on principal like Chris did or the voters purge them. An actual GOP moderate or sane conservative is caught between the rock of the trumpenproletariat and the hard place of the pitchforks and torches wielding Dems and Indys. Right now I won’t give any GOP politician the time of day.

        That reminds me. Chris, is your state Senator who got voted out the same guy you once confronted about supporting Trump?

  13. I was wrong about Gillum. Disappointed, but there was only a 1 percent winning margin. Rural voters weighed in and apparently still slightly have the edge. But they are dying off while Florida’s urban centers are growing. Not yet but soon the tide will turn in my state.

      1. I expect the reason that it passed is because it will probably help Republicans. While the focus of the conventional wisdom is on the disproportionate number of African Americans that the law will help, there are still more white felons numerically, and I doubt they’re a particularly liberal group either.

      2. Also, hoping that the other side will sufficiently “die off” doesn’t really work in a state like Florida when more senior citizens are constantly moving to the state to replace them. Nelson lost almost entirely because someone
        decided a couple years ago to build The Villages out in the middle of nowhere.

    1. Shiro old people moving in general are from the North East. They tend to settle in urban areas or suburban areas. Both groups tend to vote more Democrat. Those in rural areas are people general from old stock. Urban and suburban areas tend moderate to progressive. White felons will shake out I think to the pattern of where they live. But felons mainly are from minority groups.About 60%. About 1.5 million people will have voting rights restored. As close as elections are in Florida that will I think have a impact.

      1. It’s true that people from the northeast are flocking to Florida and tend to settle in the Miami-Broward-Palm Beach and Orlando areas. But, people from the heartland and the rest of the country are coming down and driving the huge development on the West Coast. All of the counties north and south of Tampa (I.e. Pasco, Manatee, Hernandez, Citrus, Lee, et al) are exploding in growth and are suddenly putting up huge republican margins. That is why Trump won Florida in 2016 and why DeSantis and Scott won yesterday.

    2. RHOU-
      I actually think this is one of the most underrated stories of the election so far. Florida has been balanced on a knife’s edge for nearly 20 years (since the 2000 election). Despite Florida Republicans throwing everything from voter suppression to gerrymandering into the mix, it remains a real battleground. 10% of Florida adults can’t vote due to felonies. That’s the highest of any state. Adding them back to the mix, IMHO, may be the tipping point.

      In this article:

      They estimate that felons are 52% Democratic, 33% no party affiliation, and 14% GOP. That means restoring their rights would help Democrats by a large margin. This was confirmed by the fact that the Republican establishment in FL was actually against the proposition, and it was led by Democrats from urban districts. Think of it this way: the Republicans control the state govt. If they thought it would benefit them, they could have easily changed the rules legislatively. But they’ve been blocking it for years. It took a proposition to force them to do it. That doesn’t strike me as a party expecting to benefit from the change.

      Anyway, this will be in place for the 2020 elections, before any redistricting or anything else. So we’ll have an early chance to see if it makes any difference.

  14. Chris, I’m glad you are feeling so optimistic but do you really think this will be enough for 2020? Can democrats really win with only urban and suburban voters?

    I didn’t expect Beto to win, but I really thought that Democrats would be able to win in Arizona and Missouri.

    It will be interesting to see how the house popular vote in each state looks. That would allow an imperfect quick-and-dirty calculation to establish a electoral college vote if yesterday would have been a presidential election. I have searched for such an analysis but haven’t found one yet, so I will do it myself once the data becomes available. (if somebody has a link to such an analysis – please post the link and save me some time)

  15. The good news is that their base is dying off. Younger voters turned out in record numbers and supported Congressional Democrats at nearly a 70% rate.


    Take a breath. Get some rest. Then get ready. Starting in a few months we need to repeat the work we did last year. Our efforts paid off. We’re winning, but this is not over.

    I feel these two comments need to linked better.

    It is great young voters are energized but they need to stay so. They need to understand that this is a war not just a battle and the next election starts today. Trump is not waiting a few months. We need to help those that were in losing states like Texas that the fight still continues and despite not winning we still fight for a better tomorrow.

    We need to educate these young voters. I worked the polls last night and we had several younger voters come in to vote. Some even waited in line to vote for extended periods only to come to our desk and get turned away because they did not realize they had to register to vote or registered that morning. For the curious, we made sure each of those unregistered voters filled out a voter registration card.

    1. These young people should have made a better egg to learn the voting requirements but it is also nteresting to note that many states now offer same day voter registration/voting. This right was on the ballot in several states and passed. Frankly I have more understanding for these young people who at least made the effort to vote than I have respect for older voters who cast such uninformed votes.

    1. Orange County, especially Rohrabacher’s corner of it, is as red as anyplace in America that also has a mass of educated, working-age adults. It’s a little patch of Texas or Oklahoma. Frankly, it’s a lot like TX CD7, which also flipped last night.

      The fact that we can no longer speak of Orange County or Westchester County or the Philadelphia Main Line as solidly Republican is another way of saying that our political system is in complete turmoil.

      1. >] “The fact that we can no longer speak of Orange County or Westchester County or the Philadelphia Main Line as solidly Republican is another way of saying that our political system is in complete turmoil.

        It is, but the alternative under a Clinton presidency arguably would’ve been worse. Last night’s results can give no doubt to the reality that we would’ve been absolutely ANNIHILATED – a Red Tsunami from coast to coast with Republicans claiming supermajorities in both Houses and (and this is what should really make you nauseous) likely claiming enough statewide power to call a Constitutional Convention all on their own.

        There may not be anything in the world that could make me grateful for Trump, but that comes about as damn close as anything ever could.

      2. What could possibly be Trump and McConnell’s plan for the next two months? Rushing more ultra conservative appellate justices through the approval process? Using the budget process to further savage the safety net to offset tax cuts? What else might the GOP be planning in advance of transfer of control of the House to Dems?

  16. Chris wrote: “Our efforts paid off. We’re winning, but this is not over.”

    It’s NEVER over. We need to understand the difference, in corporate-speak, between a project and ongoing operations. A project has a beginning and an end. We work hard for a while, and then we have the satisfaction of turning it over and walking away, looking for a new project to get involved in. The Operations staff just keeps plugging away, month after month, year after year. And if they do well at it, the corporation continues to run smoothly and the Operations guys have that satisfaction to remember when they finally retire.

    So we have to remember that last night may have seemed like a project, and certainly the 2020 Presidential election will be an even bigger project, but it’s really all part of ongoing operations, and we never get to feel satisfied and walk away, looking for some other project challenge to conquer.

    Because the Devil never sleeps.

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