After two years of political high drama and the buildup of expectations with the same hype as an Ali-Frazer title fight, the 2018 midterm elections came, went, and delivered to Democrats a (mostly) resounding victory. While the Senate still maintains a GOP majority, the midterms have effectively prevented millions from reliving the PTSD of the 2016 presidential election.
For Democrats, it was a significant, albeit incomplete victory.
Democrats suffered a net loss of two Senate seats and will enter the next Congress with less ability to delay or defeat executive and judicial branch nominees they find unacceptable. But the truth is that Democrats faced one of the worst Senate maps of the past 100 years, so losing only two seats is actually quite a relief. Put that setback aside and enjoy what Democrats achieved. Democrats picked up hundreds of state legislative seats and control of multiple state legislative chambers. Many more states will be able to advance progressive agendas or thwart regressive efforts by Republican officeholders, which will have real consequences for the people living in those states. Democrats also picked up seven governors seats, including unexpected hotbeds of liberal politics like Kansas!
And the biggest, most important, and satisfying victory came in the House of Representatives, where the Democrats picked up 40 seats, the most the party has won in an election cycle since 1974. Going into the 116th Congress, Democrats will have 235 members, the most since 2009. There’s plenty of time to think about what policies will or won’t be passed and the internecine political battles fought between the parties as we march into 2019.
But here are 7 more takeaways from the 2018 election cycle:
- Approval and disapproval of a President still matters. And President Trump’s approval rating was among the worst in the last 75 years, when compared with other Presidents going into their first midterm election and without the foil of another candidate of official to demonize.
- Candidates need to appeal to their district. In 2018, it was not enough to belong to the more popular party. The candidates who won tended to match their district, whether they were liberal, moderate, or conservative areas.
- Government experience not a requirement. This election saw countless first-time candidates with backgrounds in government, military, and community service. What mattered more was a passion that was ignited by what happened in 2016.
- Ladies first. Women candidates won in record number, dozens of whom, will enter Congress and begin to change its culture from the inside.
- It’s tough to beat a well-run campaign. Campaigns that were well-run, with a district-focused message on issues (namely health insurance and health care) were effective in winning voters who were turned off by what was going on with President Trump and the antics of Congress.
- C.R.E.A.M. Cash still rules everything around it, and Congressional Democrats raised eye-popping sums of money in races both competitive and noncompetitive. And money came in from all types of donors, big and small. All told more than $1.5 billion were donated online and passed through the site ActBlue, the long-time digital clearing house for Democratic campaigns and left-leaning groups.
- Female voters moved decisively in Democrats’ direction. This year, it didn’t matter how you sliced the female demographic data. Women broke toward Decmocrats regardless of whether they were white, black, or Hispanic. College educated or non-college educated. While white, college educated women got most of the attention, non-college educated women moved further to Democrats, albeit at a lower rate, and move several races in the exurban, more Republican, areas.
Just the day after President Trump was inaugurated, we saw millions of protesters across the country join The Women’s March, demonstrating their strong feelings about the election. The question was whether this passion could be maintained for the nearly 2 years until the midterms.
Well, that question was answered with a resounding yes. The next question is whether that can be maintained another 2 years until the 2020 presidential election.