Dems buoyed by sweeping major races across the country
There is little good news for Republicans the day after off-year elections held in several states. Republican John Curtis easily bested Democrat Kathie Allen in a special election in Utah's 3rd District to replace the retired Rep. Jason Chaffetz. But elsewhere, Republican candidates and issues did not fare well.
The two big contests of the night – Virginia and New Jersey governors – were swept by the Democrats. In Virginia, Ralph Northam defeated Ed Gillespie after a brutal, dirty campaign. Northam will replace another Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, who was term-limited. And Democrat Phil Murphy easily defeated Kim Guadagno to win the New Jersey governor's contest.
Republicans can take some solace in the fact that New Jersey is one of the bluest states in the nation, and Murphy was expected to cruise to victory. He will replace the retiring Chris Christie, who ended up one of the most unpopular governors in state history.
Virginia's changing demographics and the growing power of Democrats in the state's northern counties that border Washington, D.C. mean that any Republican running for statewide office will be swimming upstream. It is not a shock that Northam won, although his 8-point margin of victory was unexpected.
Perhaps most worrying to Republicans are the exit polls. Preliminary analysis shows Democratic dominance with females, most age groups, college education, and all levels of income. Republicans did best among white males, with no college, over the age of 55. Those numbers won't build any winning coalitions.
Another warning sign for Republicans: control of the Virginia House of Delegates depends on four races that still have not been called. Democrats defeated 11 GOP incumbents and flipped three other open seats previously held by the GOP. Republicans have controlled the House of Delegates since 2000.
In Washington state, a key state Senate race has gone to the Democrats, giving them control of the entire legislature and the governor's office.
There were some interesting ballot initiatives in New York and Maine. Empire State voters rejected a call for a constitutional convention, while Maine voters OKed Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.
In some key mayoral races, Democrat Bill de Blasio cruised to victory in New York City. Detroit's incumbent, Mayor Mike Duggan, easily bested the son of former mayor Coleman Young. Races in Cincinnati, Boston, and Charlotte were all won by Democrats. In Atlanta, there will be a runoff between two other Democrats.
Forgive me for not getting on the Democratic bandwagon, but the Democrats won every race they were expected to win. They had a few minor upsets at the state legislative level, but I frankly don't see what they're getting so excited about. Is it really news that a Republican lost a statewide race in New Jersey? Please. In most of the big-city mayoral races, a Republican was never competitive – again, as expected.
To my mind, the best the Democrats can say is that they didn't lose any more ground. And things are not going to improve for Democrats as much they might wish. A CNN poll out yesterday shows the worst approval numbers for the Democratic Party in 25 years. And the fallout from the Donna Brazile expose has yet to work its way through the party.
What the Democrats proved is that they could gin up enough outrage and hysteria against Donald Trump to goose their turnout in an off-year election. Republicans are in trouble, but hardly down and out. They have more money than Democrats and an advantage on the electoral map. What they need to do is encourage and motivate their own base to turn out next November.
This has been a wake-up call for the GOP. They'd better get busy.