Elections were held across the USA on November 7 to elect a slew of candidates for political offices. There were high profile governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey to elect replacements for term limited governors. There were also contests for city council seats, mayoral positions, a Congressional seat in Utah, and the entire House of Delegates of the Virginia Legislature. When the polls closed and the results started trickling in, a Democratic surge slowly began to emerge, gathering steam and reaching a crescendo late into the night as several of the outcomes showed a bad night for the Republicans. Exactly a year ago to the day, the Republicans were euphoric in their capture of the 2 arms of Congress and the Presidency which Donald Trump had won in an epic upset.
Democratic governors were elected in the Commonwealth of Virginia and in New Jersey. In Virginia, especially, the Democrats came close to ousting the GOP from control of the House of Delegates. All over the country, Democratic electoral victories were achieved for various offices, and many shattered conventional norms. In Chicago and in Virginia, transgender candidates defeated their Republican opponents. In Virginia, Danica Roem, a transgender woman, defeated a 13 term GOP stalwart. In Montana, a Liberian immigrant, who moved to the United States 23 years ago, won the race for Mayor of the capital city of Helena.
Several interpretations have been given these results by both Republicans and Democrats. In Republican ranks are those who view the results as primarily reflective of local politics, rather than national. They lampoon the idea of using the results to predict the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections. But national Democrats, elated by the results, have pushed a narrative which asserts the results as a referendum on President Trump. They claim Trump’s divisive rhetoric was a catalyst for driving a record number of people to the polls in several places. Democratic leaders exhibit optimism about retaking the House in next year’s midterm elections.
Congressman Scot Taylor is one Republican who sees political peril for the GOP in the election results. Reacting as the returns indicated a bad night for the Republican Party, he agreed that the election results were a referendum on President Trump and warned about further consequences to the party if anti Trump fervor continues into 2018. A Democratic Party takeover of the Congress in 2018 is a tall order, considering the party will be defending 25 seats to the GOP’s 8 in the Senate, and must flip 24 seats in the House to take control. Should the stars all be aligned correctly for the Democrats to beat the odds and take back Congress, a toxic political atmosphere, probably the worst in decades, could be unleashed.
Bitter feelings from the loss of the Presidency in 2016 and the emergence of Trumpism are likely to drive the party’s relationship with President Trump. There is talk of impeachment arising from the Russia election meddling imbroglio and other alleged misdeeds by the President, including violations of the emoluments clause. Trump himself hasn’t helped his cause by his bombastic and confrontational style, worsened by a penchant for twitter tirades. The Democratic surge has undoubtedly put a dent in Trump’s armor and put the Republicans on the defensive. Brutal political battles will likely define the next 12 months until the 2018 midterms.