Blue wave ran into red wall


Democratic hopes for a blue wave in Tuesday’s midterm elections ran into a red wall in the form of the GOP Senate majority that President Trump protected — and ultimately expanded.

Democrats will retake the House majority, putting a major crimp in Trump’s legislative efforts and winning oversight powers that will allow committee chairs to subpoena the administration left and right.

But Republicans look set to gain as many as four seats in the Senate, surpassing expectations and giving Trump the ability to more easily secure confirmations of Cabinet members and judges.

The results highlight the polarization of U.S. politics in the Trump era, which increasingly are seen through divides that run along racial, economic and urban-rural lines.

The red wave promised by Trump, which attracted mockery earlier this year, showed up in states such as Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota where Democratic Senate candidates were swamped.

A blue wave did materialize in suburbs across the country, delivering Democrats their House majority through districts in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Texas. The party picked up three seats in increasingly blue Virginia.

Democrats may gain as many as 35 seats, easily clearing the 23 they needed to take the majority.

But the Democratic gains in the House didn't come close to measuring up to the 2010 midterms, when Republicans won the majority by picking up 63 seats.

For a number of reasons, Democrats are coming away unsatisfied. They were hoping for a resounding rejection of Trump, who is touting the election results as a “tremendous success.”

Furthermore, the GOP triumphed in several high-profile races.

Democrat Andrew Gillum lost his bid to become Florida’s governor, losing to a top Trump ally in former Rep. Ron DeSantis. The loss was especially bitter for Democrats given the historic nature of Gillum’s campaign; he would have been the first African American elected as Florida’s governor.

In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams is projected to lose to Brian Kemp, and may not force the Republican secretary of State into a runoff by keeping him under 50 percent.

In Texas, Rep. Beto O’Rourke ran a strong campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz, but wound up on the losing end to the Republican, who will return to the Senate for a second term. O’Rourke remains a progressive star with a bright future, but his defeat was one of three that served as emotional blows to Democrats across the country who were looking for a big victory from a popular candidate.

None of this negates the fact that Democrats winning the House is a tremendous victory for the party that will radically shift power in Washington.

The party also appears set to gain a handful of governor’s seats, including in Michigan. And Democrat Tony Evers defeated GOP Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, which gives Democrats a high-profile victory in a state that disappointed them two years ago by voting for Trump.

Yet Democrats lost gubernatorial contests in both Florida and Ohio, arguably the most important swing states in a presidential election. Both will be led in 2020 by Republicans who won their races thanks in part to Trump.

That’s another victory for Trump, who will have to deal with a Democratic House for the next two years but secured some advantages for his reelection bid.

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