Our writers have analyzed dozens of midterm races around the country. Read excerpts from some of their columns and blog posts below.


Two years after justices are appointed by the governor to Arizona’s Supreme Court, they must be voted on in retention elections, and subsequently in such elections every six years. This misbegotten procedure is an incentive for injudiciousness — for judges to consider public opinion while making jurisprudential distinctions and decisions. To their credit, Arizonans have never exercised their power to remove a justice of the state’s Supreme Court. This year, however, voters are being exhorted by the Arizona Education Association, the teachers union, and national allies to reject the two justices standing for retention.
Arizona could do something it has not done in three decades: Elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate.
Two of its congresswomen, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally, are locked in a race that is too close to predict. Whoever wins will be the first female U.S. senator in the state’s history.


The ability of Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) to go low was pretty well demonstrated in August when he and his wife were indicted on federal charges of using campaign funds for personal expenses. There was no thought of stepping aside; only blame — to Democrats (for a “witch-hunt”) and his wife (“whatever she did, that’ll be looked at, too, I’m sure, but I didn’t do it.”). Yet even Mr. Hunter has managed to astonish with what may be the most vile political ad of this year’s midterm elections.
The controversial ad by Mr. Hunter attacks his Democratic challenger for his Palestinian heritage and goes so far as to warn that Ammar Campa-Najjar has terrorist ties and is seeking to “infiltrate” Congress.


This is a titanic clash of ideologies, the high-contrast choice that both the left and the right have been wanting.

— Karen Tumulty, “Florida does it again” (Aug. 30)

Andrew Gillum’s victory in the Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday may have seemed like a surprise. Of the five people in the race, he was the only non-millionaire or billionaire and the only African American. He was outspent and was at the bottom of the polls through most of the campaign. In short, few gave him a shot — except those of us paying attention.

— Jonathan Capehart, “Why are y’all so surprised Andrew Gillum won?” (Aug. 31)

Gillum’s victory is not simply a reaction to the Trump administration, nor is Gillum an overnight sensation. His success is a long time in the making as he has worked his way through the leadership pipeline for progressive candidates. Strengthening this pipeline will be critical for the progressive movement to sustain victories such as his in the years to come.


“I am a progressive with Georgia values,” [Stacey Abrams] said on her campaign bus, which has traveled to some of the most Republican counties in the state. Her strategy is twofold: stepping up turnout among Democratic voters who normally skip midterms and cutting GOP margins in their own areas from, say, 80-20 to 70-30 or less.
An Abrams win, which would make her the first African American female governor in the United States ever, would instantaneously vault her to the top ranks of a new generation of Democratic political stars. The victory of a nonwhite, non-Republican, non-male governor in the Deep South who eschewed middle-of-the-roadism would have ramifications for 2020 and beyond.


Born and raised in the 6th District, and known more for his supply-side policy wonkery than for his rhetoric, [Rep. Peter J.] Roskam has to hope he is one of the few Republicans who can pull off this particular act of jujitsu.
If he can’t, the GOP is probably in for a long night next Tuesday and may be facing many future defeats in its erstwhile suburban strongholds.


Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly cannot keep his seat in one of the closest Senate races in the country unless men and women here come back to blue. In a state Trump won by 19 points in 2016, and where the president has a 53 percent job approval rating in the latest Ball State University poll, Donnelly needs a big margin in the northwest — “the region,” as it’s known.
The question, evident at a raucous rally of the United Steelworkers union on a recent Monday night in Chesterton, is exactly what message can regain this once-reliable constituency when unemployment in Indiana is negligible, Trump has granted the steel industry protective tariffs and many working-class voters harbor doubts about the national party’s stances on social issues.

Charles LaneAn Indiana race shows the clash within two parties” (Nov. 5)


When general elections no longer matter because districts are overwhelmingly red or blue, incumbents naturally move away from the center to fend off primary challengers. But the western reaches of Greater Kansas City were not carved up that way. This is a purple seat. Whoever seeks to win and hold the 3rd District must steer clear of controversy, work hard for constituents and hunt for the vanishing real estate known as middle ground.

— David Von Drehle, “Purple America sure looks bluer” (Oct. 9)


[Ben] Jealous has a story to tell that can change hearts and minds. In his opening statement of last week’s debate, Jealous said, “I’m the former national president of the NAACP, and the dad to two Maryland public school kids, and the son of two Maryland public school teachers whose marriage was against the law here 52 years ago because she’s black and he’s white.”
Jealous knows what Maryland’s public schools need because he sends his children there. He knows what small-business owners in Maryland need because he invests in them. He knows that racism persists in Maryland because he has experienced it and fought it.
Residents of the state tell pollsters overwhelmingly they think it is headed in the right direction. [Gov. Larry] Hogan doesn’t deserve all the credit for that — he has the good fortune to lead during boom times — but he is clearly part of the good news. In polarized times, he has stuck to the political middle, from where he has fashioned agreements that will benefit millions of Marylanders. That’s no easy feat.

— The Post’s Editorial Board, “Larry Hogan for governor” (Oct. 10)


This year, Democrats in Michigan have done something unprecedented. They have selected women to be their standard-bearers for every statewide office on the November ballot: governor, U.S. senator, attorney general and secretary of state.


The odds are somewhat, but only somewhat, against [Democratic Senate candidate Mike] Espy, so the possibility of victory is not an illusion. He is campaigning within the parameters of normal politics, which makes this a satisfying American as well as local moment.

— George F. Will, “How a Democrat can finagle a win in Mississippi” (Sept. 5)


[Sen. Claire] McCaskill, 65, is up against a bright young man with large ambitions named Josh Hawley, Missouri’s attorney general for what seems like about 15 minutes. Though he promised voters in 2016 that he had no immediate plans to pursue higher office, the pledge had the staying power of instructions at the start of a “Mission: Impossible” movie.

— David Von Drehle, “Does Claire McCaskill have one more trick up her sleeve?” (Oct. 23)

[Republican Senate candidate Josh] Hawley, who hopes to serve on the Judiciary Committee (a Republican seat is opening: Utah’s Orrin G. Hatch is retiring), is an actual, not a pretend, conservative — though he has written a serious but too-admiring book mistakenly calling Theodore Roosevelt a conservative. Hawley can be part of the GOP’s intelligent future, if it chooses to have one.

New Jersey:

This election will test whether voters think that being a luridly indiscreet (this is a discreet way of describing [Democratic incumbent Robert] Menendez’s behavior) senator is less objectionable than [Republican challenger Robert] Hugin’s guilt of association with the pharmaceutical industry whose products help to give millions of people sufficient longevity and vitality to nurse grievances against the products’ prices.

New York:

Although Barack Obama won the 19th [Congressional] District twice, Donald Trump carried it by six points in 2016 and remains popular here today.
But like much of the rest of the country, this district is experiencing a surge of liberal activism, and it is considered one of the most likely to flip if there is a large blue wave in November.
The other big factor is [Democratic candidate Antonio] Delgado himself. He moved to the district just last year from New Jersey and quickly emerged as a political phenom. He beat out six other candidates to win the Democratic nomination and has outraised [Republican incumbent Rep. John] Faso nearly 2-to-1.
Last week, a clip from the second debate between New York Republican Rep. Peter T. King and Democratic challenger Liuba Grechen Shirley went viral on social media. To describe King as dismissive of his opponent is to be charitable. He interrupted Shirley and appeared to be furious he needed to deal with a challenger at all. At one point King said Shirley was not a “legitimate” constituent. For the record, Shirley, 37, lives in the house she grew up in, with her mother, her husband and two children. (She’s still breastfeeding one.)


In [Sen. Sherrod] Brown’s quest for reelection, the appeal to workers is working. While Ohio swung from a three-point victory for Barack Obama in 2012 to an eight-point [Donald] Trump win, Brown has enjoyed leads from 13 to 18 points over Republican Rep. James B. Renacci in three polls over the past month.
Democrats are not counting on that sort of margin for Brown, but even coming in at half that range would underscore the fragility of Trump’s hold on his own electorate.
[Sen. Sherrod] Brown understands that many Ohio voters — including his base of blue-collar workers, many of whom support the president — see Trump’s actions differently from the liberal national media and Democrats in the coastal blue states do. Rather than Trump abandoning Group of Seven allies, they see the president as finally standing up for the best interests of the United States. Rather than fixating on dwindling evidence of Russian collusion or obstruction of justice, they’re focused on the best economy in decades and a North Korean dictator pressured to release prisoners and forced to the negotiating table by the president’s hard-line approach.

— Gary Abernathy, “Sherrod Brown’s balancing act” (June 12)


If you cobbled together a Republican suited to this year in this state — Donald Trump won 92 of 95 counties when carrying the state by 26 points — the result would resemble Rep. Marsha Blackburn: female, feisty and pleased as Punch with the president. If you asked central casting to find a Democrat with a contrasting political temperament, you would get Phil Bredesen. He is as exciting as oatmeal, which is said to be better for us than bacon.

— George F. Will, “Is fealty to Trump enough? Tennessee will tell.” (Aug. 22)

While much of the rest of the country is gearing up for an epic midterm battle between the hardened forces of Trumpism and the resistance, Tennessee is testing whether persuasion is still possible in politics. The theory is that the right kind of candidate can persuade voters, particularly the growing share of Tennesseans who identify as independents, to see beyond party labels.
In Tennessee, the traditional Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) — who also has no better than B+ political skills — is running against the political retread and fading southern star, former Democratic governor Phil Bredesen. If [Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey] Abrams represents the new resistance-fueled wing of the Democratic Party, Bredesen represents the opposite — an older and perhaps bygone style.


As is the case with a lot of Democratic candidates these days, [Beto] O’Rourke needs to speak in banalities. He is completely illiterate when it comes to talking about the economic environment — including relaxed regulatory burdens and a friendly tax system — that has made Texas a powerhouse for growth and jobs. O’Rourke would rather stick with left-wing slogans than discuss specifics on the issues as his precise policy positions can be debilitating, particularly in Texas where he declared his opposition to [Brett] Kavanaugh back in July and has a long history of supporting abortion across the board. But that doesn’t matter to the vapid, glossy-profile writers fawning over his candidacy.
Democrats in competitive House and Senate races across the country, trying to appeal to voters fed up with hyperpartisanship, are … emphasizing their desire to “work together.” But none has found a special sauce anywhere near as popular as the one flavoring Betomania.
His speeches have little red meat and few mentions of [Sen. Ted] Cruz or [President] Trump. And though he doesn’t hide his progressive positions — for single-payer health care and legal marijuana, against a border wall — he avoids purity tests, such as a reflexive demand for Trump’s impeachment.

— Dana Milbank, “The special sauce that flavors Betomania” (Oct. 8)

In the 7th Congressional District, in what might turn out to be the year’s most instructive House race, Democrats seem serious about winning, and if they do with Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, they will have a template for 2020 nationally.
One of her handouts inexplicably describes her as a “fierce advocate,” as though Americans are experiencing a fierceness deficit and pine for a ferocity infusion. Actually, she speaks with the measured precision of a lawyer who has worked at a major firm (Vinson & Elkins) and who is fluent in the business-school patois (“The delta last time was . . . ”) of her corporate clients. The ginger group Our Revolution, which is a residue of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, supported a candidate to her left in a seven-candidate primary, perhaps because Fletcher would not genuflect at the requisite altars: She has endorsed neither a single-payer health-care system, nor Medicare-for-all, nor putting lipstick on socialism, least of all a ban — this is Texas, for pete’s sake — on offshore drilling.


“I think you’re more likely to pull people together in the context of solving problems,” [Democratic Sen. Tim] Kaine said in an interview after the labor-force session. It’s a formula that has worked for him this year as he has built a large lead over Republican Corey A. Stewart, the chair of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. Stewart may be, as Kaine noted, one of the “most pure” Trumpian candidates on the ballot this year, given Stewart’s long-standing anti-immigrant activism.
Kaine said he is looking for a particular kind of wave next week, “a wave of dignity and compassion and respect and community.”