President Trump lost. And it was not even close.
On Tuesday, the president and his allies paid a high political price for their preposterous claims about caravans filled with leprosy, Middle Eastern terrorists, Hispanic “breeders” and gang invaders. Those lies cost the hobbled president every bit as much as his vicious attacks on the free press and his foul campaign calls to imprison political adversaries. Despite all claims to the contrary, Trump Republicans faced a bitter reckoning at the polls in dozens of congressional races and hundreds of legislative battles across the United States.
Trumpism proved to be so politically toxic that Republicans likely took their worst shellacking in U.S. House races since the darkest days of Watergate. Trump Republicans lost at least 30 seats in Congress and took a beating nationally. In state legislative races, the tally was even worse, with more than 300 Republican legislators watching their political careers get washed away by the blue wave.
In states such as Nevada, GOP politicians paid a particularly heavy price for their fealty to the former Manhattan Democratic donor. As the Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston noted Thursday, his state’s six Republican constitutional officers were reduced to one. Nevada no longer has a Republican representing it in the U.S. Senate and just one in the House of Representatives, and Trump’s party also lost seats in the Nevada Assembly and in the state Senate. As Ralston noted with a dash of understatement: “That is a wave.”
If enough of the remaining undecided races break their way, Democrats could soon control a larger majority in the House than Republican Dennis Hastert ever did during his eight years as speaker. Trump’s sagging fortunes also allowed Democrats to pick up more governorships than either party had done since the GOP landslide of 1994.
Republicans who believed Trump would never pay a price for his misogyny, you were wrong. Historically wrong. When the new Congress is sworn in, more than 100 women will become elected members of the People’s House. That will be the first time in history that so many women will have a hand in running the country’s government, and they will direct our future away from Trump’s dystopian vision. Doesn’t that seem only fitting since their success is owed in part to Trump’s odious attitude toward women?
Another question that hangs over Capitol Hill is how Republican senators will react to the drubbing their colleagues took in the House. The Senate map is shaping up to be almost as challenging for the GOP in 2020 as it was for Democrats in 2018, with Republicans forced to defend at least 21 seats while Democrats only have to defend 12. More important, many of those GOP challenges will be in swing states such as Maine, Colorado and North Carolina. Can the Republicans in those states afford to stick with Trump? Add to that mix a maverick Sen. Mitt Romney, newly elected from Utah, and it’s possible to imagine a Senate that finally finds the courage to push back against Trump’s most abhorrent schemes.
It is long past time that Republicans in Congress begin worrying more about their country’s well-being than fretting over being on the wrong side of one of Trump’s childish tweets. It is also past time for Republicans to understand that their fear of Trump only enabled the president to act on his worst instincts and in turn fueled their party’s decline. The collective weight of Charlottesville, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Scott Pruitt, the president’s multitude of lies, his thoughtless cruelty, his failed Muslim ban, West Wing chaos, White House corruption and gross incompetence on the international stage was too much for Trump’s congressional quislings and political allies to overcome. Voters decided on Tuesday that if their representatives would not provide a check on the president’s worst excesses, they would use their vote to do it themselves.
When the dust finally cleared, Trump had lost. And it was not even close.