Democrats picked up the United States House of Representatives, flipped seven state legislative chambers, added six states where Democrats now control both the state legislature and Governor’s Mansion, and the three states that put Trump over the finish line (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) all elected Democrat Governors and Senators.
But Republicans made gains in the Senate in places like Missouri, Florida, North Dakota, and Indiana while holding their own in Arizona. Likewise, the GOP held both the highly contested governor’s mansions in Georgia and Florida.
Republicans will be happy because of judges and Democrats will be happy because they’ve taken the House and begun to undo some of the damage done at the state level by Barack Obama. But both sides should pay attention to real warning signs.
For Republicans, the mostly reliable suburbs fled the President. I have talked to a number of Republican consultants and pollsters over the preceding few days and all of them tell me that in close races the last week really shifted to the Democrats. They all think the President hurt some races by coming out claiming he could get rid of birthright citizenship by executive order.
One strategist told me it wasn’t even the birthright citizenship issue in his polling that mattered. It was that the President thought he could do it by executive order. It just ratified a Democrat stereotype that he wants to be an autocrat.
Likewise, we now know several candidates polling trended towards the Democrats after the President visited urban areas in those states. It was smart of the Hawley campaign in Missouri to put Trump in the southern part of that state and it was smart of Kemp in Georgia to put Trump in the midstate. Ted Cruz may have won Texas, but several people tell me the President’s presence in Houston mobilized Democrats significantly.
For Democrats, they have their own problems. They will not win Georgia, despite their claims. They lost Florida and could have won it. They are losing parts of the country that still matter even as they consolidate in urban areas. Their contemptuous attitude toward rural and exurban areas as well as their increasingly intolerant progressivism has hurt them and could hurt them moving forward.
Republicans got a beat down in suburban areas of very Republican states like Oklahoma. But Democrats lost Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Florida, and couldn’t take Arizona because they lost the middle class and blue collar voters.
Both sides have real problems and they’ll all relish their victories and ignore the problems. They should not.