It turns out the 2018 midterm elections were pretty much a rout. Counting all the votes makes all the difference in the world.
The Democrats picked up seven governorships, with Stacey Abrams, as of now, still fighting to make it to a runoff in Georgia, and Andrew Gillum trailing by 0.4 percentage points, enough to trigger a recount in Florida.
In the Senate, Democrats may not quite have pulled off an inside straight, but they had two aces — in Nevada and Arizona. With 26 seats to defend, many in red states, it now looks as if their losses will be small. Democrats won in Nevada and are now poised to pick up a seat in Arizona. In the latter, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema surged into the lead as additional Maricopa County ballots were counted.)
Meanwhile, Democrats have an outside chance to hold on to Florida. There, Republican Gov. Rick Scott leads by only 0.2 percentage points over Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. If Sinema and Nelson win, Republicans, in a year with the most favorable map in recent history, would pick up only a net of one seat (52 to 48); if Sinema wins but Nelson doesn’t, Republicans would only eke out a net gain of two seats (53 to 47). That’s simply remarkable considering they had to defend incumbents in the following in states President Trump won, in some cases by double digits: Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Montana, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Dakota. As conservative Quin Hillyer put it, one would reasonably expect “Republicans on this map, in this economy . . . [to gain] at least five seats, with six or seven more likely than three or four.”
Simply because Trump did not see all these losses on Election Night does not make them any less real or consequential for Republicans. Put differently, outside the deepest-red enclaves Republicans took a beating up and down the ballot.
Remember, states also passed ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage, to expand voting access and to legalize marijuana; you have to wonder whether Trump and his ilk realize they are in retreat politically and policy-wise.
If you then turn to exit polls, voters said by big margins: they disapprove of Trump (54 percent to 45 percent ); regard the GOP unfavorably (52 percent to 44 percent); think the country is on the wrong track (54 percent to 42 percent), thought Trump’s immigration policies were too harsh (46 percent, with 33 percent saying they were about right and 17 saying not tough enough); favor tougher gun laws (59 percent to 37 percent); think his foreign policy makes the country less safe (46 percent to 38 percent); disapprove of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh (47 percent to 44 percent); want to uphold Roe v. Wade (66 percent to 25 percent); think it is somewhat or very important to elect more minorities (72 percent to 24 percent) and somewhat or very important to elect more women (78 percent to 20 percent); think sexual harassment is a big problem (84 percent to 14 percent); and are more concerned about people being denied the right to vote than voter fraud (53 percent to 36 percent).
It drives Trump’s critics to distraction to watch him dominate every news cycle and repeat lies that have long since been debunked. They should be upset ; the president’s lies, racism, meanness and ignorance debase the presidency. However, Trump’s not helping himself or his party. To the contrary, Democrats just had an extremely successful election and are winning most major policy debates. They should send him a nice fruit basket or something for the holidays.