Tuesday 17 September 2019

Seven key points from the US midterm elections that shine a light on the state of the nation

A snow covered car with a Trump sticker outside an election night party for U.S Senate candidate Matt Rosendale in Helena, Montana, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
A snow covered car with a Trump sticker outside an election night party for U.S Senate candidate Matt Rosendale in Helena, Montana, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

James Oliphant

Tuesday's US congressional elections ended with what might be called a split decision. Democrats gained more than enough seats to take control of the US House of Representatives, but lost ground to Republicans in the US Senate and came up short in some key governor's races.

Seven takeaways from the evening:

U.S Senate candidate Matt Rosendale talks with supporters at an election night party in Helena, Montana, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
U.S Senate candidate Matt Rosendale talks with supporters at an election night party in Helena, Montana, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom speaks after being elected governor of the state during an election night party in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A snow covered car with a Trump sticker outside an election night party for U.S Senate candidate Matt Rosendale in Helena, Montana, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom hugs his wife Jennifer as he celebrates being elected governor of the state during an election night party in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A man wearing a New York Yankees hat votes during the midterm election at P.S. 140 in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A person arrives as early morning voting opens for the midterm election at P.S. 140 in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Voters line up outside of the Center for Civil and Human Rights ready to vote, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant
U.S. Democratic Congressional candidate Jahana Hayes, with her son Myles, checks in at a voting station in Wolcott, Connecticut, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
U.S. Democratic Congressional candidate Jahana Hayes arrives to fill out her ballot to vote at a voting station in Wolcott, Connecticut, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Mist shrouds the U.S. Capitol dome on the morning of midterm Election Day, as voters go to the polls to decide the control of the U.S. House and Senate in the mid-term of the Trump presidency in Washington, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
People cast their ballots in the midterm election at William Ford Elementary School in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky
People cast their ballots in the midterm election at William Ford Elementary School in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky
The U.S. Capitol is shown as evening sets on midterm Election Day in Washington, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum marks his midterm election ballot as his daughter Caroline and son Jackson, both age 4, watch in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
Democratic candidate for governor Michelle Lujan Grisham greets diners at Barelas Coffee House on midterm elections day in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
People cast their ballots in the midterm election at William Ford Elementary School in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky
Voters line up at a voting station in Wolcott, Connecticut, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Voters line up to vote as polls opened in the U.S. midterm congressional and gubernatorial elections in Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Voters line up to vote as polls opened in the U.S. midterm congressional and gubernatorial elections in Deerfield Beach, Florida, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
A woman stands in a polling station at P.S. 140 during the midterm election in Manhattan in New York City, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Milford Hayes and his son Myles watch as Milford's wife, U.S. Democratic Congressional candidate Jahana Hayes, is interviewed at a voting station in Wolcott, Connecticut, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Stickers sit as an election worker waits for people to vote during the midterm election at P.S. 140 in Manhattan in New York City, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Voters wait in a line inside the Center for Civil and Human Rights, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant
People vote during the midterm election at P.S. 140 in Manhattan in New York City, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A golf cart passes a sign for a polling station in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Virginia state senator Jennifer Wexton, Democratic nominee for Virginia's 10th Congressional District, speaks with reporters after casting her ballot, at Loudoun County High School in Leesburg, Virginia, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Al Drago

1) The urban-rural divide is as pervasive as ever. Democrats, as expected, won in suburban congressional districts in places such as Virginia and Pennsylvania. But they were hammered in Senate races in rural states, losing seats in Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota. The party still is struggling to connect with blue-collar, white voters.

2) President Donald Trump remains an inescapable political force. Democrats credit Trump's unpopularity among women, minorities, young people and suburban voters with college degrees for their House wins. Republicans said his late-stage campaign efforts helped them pick up seats in the Senate. The president showed he remains popular in presidential swing states including Florida and Ohio.

 

3) Progressive stars had a tough night. Beto O'Rourke lost in Texas, Andrew Gillum in Florida and Richard Cordray in Ohio. None of them broke through, despite the enthusiasm they generated nationally. That means progressive candidates may have a tough time gaining traction in the scrum for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

4) Republicans held off a blue wave in governor's races. Trump-backed Ron DeSantis won in Florida, Mike DeWine took Ohio, Kim Reynolds won in Iowa. All three states are key presidential battlegrounds.

5) The Republican Party is more Trumpian than ever. Gone are Republican Trump critics in the Senate such as Bob Corker and Jeff Flake who are retiring. Also gone are Republican moderates in the House like Virginia's Barbara Comstock and Colorado's Mike Coffman who tried to keep some distance from the president but lost their races on Tuesday. Most of the remaining Republican congressional caucus is on board.

6) Wedge issues raised late in the campaign helped Republicans. The party was struggling to find ways to engage its base until Senate Democrats rose up against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. All three of the Democratic senators who voted for Trump's first high court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, and then turned around and voted against Kavanaugh lost their seats. Trump's continuing focus on the migrant caravan in Mexico turned out to be an issue that helped power some surprise wins in the Senate, but may have contributed to defeats in the House.

7) Democrats had big success in the Great Lakes. The party held onto Senate seats in states in the industrial Midwest that Trump won in 2016. Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, Ohio's Sherrod Brown, Pennsylvania's Bob Casey and Michigan's Debbie Stabenow never faced a serious challenge from their Trump-backed opponents -- a positive sign for the party heading into the 2020 presidential campaign.

Reuters

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