It is very hard for Democrats to feel comfortable with the idea of a sweep, an election that changes everything, handing us power once again, at least for a while, and wiping out the other guys. This is hard to feel comfortable with for two reasons. First, it nearly never happens, so any thought it might is easily jinxed, and second, we know full well that once it does happen, if it does happen, we’ll screw it up right away and the counter-sweep will be pretty bad.
Last Tuesday’s election was not a sweep, but it was a signal that a sweep can happen, could happen, might happen, next November. One thing that tells us that it might happen is this little thing called Democracy in Action. This week, many Republicans got their butts kicked precisely because of their awful policies. They might think it was because they stood next to a serial sexual harasser or an incompetent boob-clown (talking about Trump the Chump here) one time too many, or because they were not mean enough to children or old people, or whatever. But Americans don’t mind those things too much (apparently). The Republicans got their butts handed to them in a manila envelope this time around because exactly one year — and yes, irrationally, we do start counting accomplishments on election day, not inauguration day, because we are an impatient and stupid people, we Americans — exactly one year has gone by and the Republicans in Congress and the White House have done only two things: 1) Everything wrong and b) Nothing at all.
That’s one thing. The other thing, the killer, the kicker, the coup d’etat thing is this: The day after they got their butts bounced on the moon, the leadership of the GOP, which isn’t going anywhere because it never does, announced they would be redoubling their efforts to do everything wrong and nothing at all.
So there is a chance of a sweep in 12 months from now. Having determined that is possible, having said it out loud, having laid down the jinx if there is going to be a jinx, lets’ review a few facts from this week’s election.
Virginia does many things differently than the other states, not the least of which is not being a state at all (it is a commonwealth, one of two). One of those things is to elect important state officers on odd number years. This is actually not at all unusual if you go back in time. In the old days, state politics determined national politics a lot more directly, since various representatives to Congress, depending on when and where, were not elected in federal elections, but rather, sent to Washington by the state governments. Also, there was a tighter tie between state party politics and national politics, so how things went in key states, and Virginia has always been a key state, would generally be seen as a bell weather for what would happen at the national level. So in the 19th and early 20th century, many states either had six year gubernatorial terms or voted on uneven years, and the states were very closely watched indeed. This has mostly gone away, but Virginia did not make that change, and continues to be a bell weather state.
And Virginia rang the bell loud, and put the Republican out in the cold, cold weather.
In Virginia, the House of Delegates, one of the two houses of the legislature, went from solidly Republican controlled to barely Democratic controlled. The Senate was not up for election this year, and is still controlled by the Republicans, but just barely. Stay tuned on that one. Virginia elected a Democratic Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General.
Democrats booted out Chris Christy’s Lt Gov to put a previously never before elected Democratic governor in the state house.
Washington State’s Senate went Democratic, so as of the next signing in, all branches of governments of all of the Pacific coast states will be Democratic.
Just as important, in many ways, as numerical victories, Democrats put at least three transgender candidates in office, including one in Virginia who defeated the very dude who introduced the first state level anti-Trans “bathroom bill.” The other two are in Minneapolis, for the City Council.
A large portion of women ran and won. For example, in Virginia, the number of women in the House went from 17 to 30, out of 100.
It is said that something like one in ten times a brand new candidate who runs for some office wins. This time, it was closer to 25%, apparently, though an exact accounting of that phenomenon may take a while to develop.
It might have also been a good year for people of color running for office. Not as good as it needs to be, but much better than average.
Democrats, this week, did not squeak by or get lucky. The voters sent a message: We’ll show up and elect Democrats, even non-white-male ones. For now. For a while.
Also, as noted in a previous post, a seemingly record number of Republicans are fleeing political office. Like rodents off a sinking maritime vessel, or something.
See you next year.