I was going to write a bit of a longer piece on this yesterday but then I had to spend four hours putting out an unexpected fire at work, so it didn’t happen. All I can say is that I’m glad to have been wrong in worrying. In fact, there’s not a lot of downside for Democrats over Tuesday’s results. The results in Virginia were outstanding, of course. I don’t attribute any of this to the amazing campaign skills of Ralph Northam. I see no evidence of any such skills. My guess is that he’ll quickly become an obscure figure, leaving the flash to incoming New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and I doubt I’ll ever write about him again. Anyway, the downballot strength of Democrats reflected the fundamentals, particularly of a very unpopular Republican president, primarily, as everybody says. Still, to get to the point of nearly taking the egregiously gerrymandered Virginia House is something indeed. My main concern is that Democratic organizations will latch onto the media’s “suburbanite revolt” narrative by running civilitybots from coast to coast, particularly since many of the incoming Democrats are extremely progressive. But they were probably going to do that even if Northam had lost. It’s amazing how quickly the conventional wisdom shifted from, “If Democrats don’t reach out to working-class whites, they’re doomed!” to “If Republicans lose suburbanites, they’re doomed!” But such is conventional wisdom.

Anyway, you can’t be bitter every damn day of your life and I’m not today. In the short term, as I’ve argued many times before, there’s ultimately no real way to keep morale up other than wins. It’s a good thing for anyone to the left of Erskine Bowles that Democrats won big on Tuesday. Projecting out a bit, I think it’s difficult to see how 2018 isn’t just awful for Republicans. No doubt the vote suppression machine will be geared up full force, but given the huge enthusiasm difference between the parties I don’t think that’s any guarantee, particularly since there are a number of Republicans in New York, California, and elsewhere who aren’t going to be helped by it. Democrats should of course compete everywhere like in 2006, of course. I never got the “Trump’s a genius” when all he managed to do was equal the worst Republican performance this century, and I still don’t. Probably the most important element of Tuesday is the psychological one, that wins are still possible.

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  1. vjack says:

    I did hear something about how the election results did not reflect any sort of erosion in support for Trump, which isn’t exactly good news. But at least the outcome of the recent elections was positive.

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