The midterms were good. The defeatist rhetoric from Democrats needs to end because, at least this year, it isn’t true. Democrats did really well, flipping Senate seats in Nevada and Arizona. Florida’s Senate race is so unbelievably close that it has gone to an automatic recount.
It is true that losses in some Republican-leaning seats, in such a good year for Democrats, were disappointing. A sadder fact is that they weren’t even close. In Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri, Democrats got trounced. It was already a heavy lift to keep winning in places that the president had won by 19 points. People held out hope for Indiana and Missouri, though it was clear North Dakota was slipping. Yet, red state Democrats in West Virginia and Montana prevailed. There is not much to despair over Beto. A win would have been unexpected. He did better than expected, helping lift up down-ballot progressives. Unlike Texas, the Tennessee race was not close and showed the repeatedly failing strategy of recruiting Blue Dog former governors to run for Senate. It didn’t work in Indiana in 2016 or in Tennessee in 2018.
If absentee ballots, mail-in ballots and recounts don’t go well for Democrats in the Sunshine State, they will have lost North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Florida and gained Nevada and Arizona. That is a deep hole that they would have to dig themselves out of, and they probably would not be able to gain a Senate majority for at least two cycles or maybe, like some people argue, never again.
But all of that is about the Senate. With all the doom and gloom surrounding the upper chamber, it’s easy to gloss over the fact that the Democrats now control the House. For the first time in eight years. That’s a big deal. Despite all the gerrymandering, Democrats captured a healthy majority. Not only will they be able to check the president’s power, but they’ll also have an easier time holding on to their seats next cycle and will hopefully use their majority to pass the agenda of the next Democratic president.
While the House is a major gain, Democratic gains at the state level are perhaps an even bigger deal. According to Vox, Democrats flipped seven governorships, six state legislative chambers, and more than 300 state Senate and House seats. They gained full control in some states and broke full Republican control — meaning control of the state house, senate and governorship — in many more. They finally broke Republican supermajorities in one, and maybe both, chambers in North Carolina. These legislatures and governors will preside over 2020 redistricting, expand Medicaid, invest in education, raise minimum wages and achieve goals that stalled at the federal level — not to mention enact similar measures to a Florida ballot question that enfranchised over a million former felons.
All in all, the 2018 midterms were good for Democrats, despite the Senate losses and coming up just short in Georgia and Florida.