The results are in and while many Trump supporters (myself included) have to be disappointed with the results the sharp divergence from what happened with what the polls were saying (more on this in a later post once we have final results) augers in a new defining era in American politics. Trump’s loss in Wisconsin, likely Michigan, and probably Pennsylvania while his narrow wins in FL, GA and NC should not be seen as a the pre – 2016 map returning but a new map solidifed. As for Republicans in AZ, I don’t know how they recover.
It was not supposed to go this way. From the East to West Coast it was expected Democrats would gain seats in the House, they would enjoy a new majority in the Senate and they would capture the Presidency. While it looks like the Presidency will be theres, the same cannot be said for the Senate.
Of the twelve “competitive” Senate races Democrats were targeting the results show their star recruit in South Carolina, Jaime Harrison, will lose by double-digits to Lindsay Graham despite raking in over $100 million. In Iowa, Joni Ernst rode the president’s coattails to a resounding seven point victory (oh look, it actually matched the state level poll). Elsewhere, in Montana, Steve Daines turned back a challenge from Governor Steve Bullock (who was replaced by a Republican for all the work he did in his former office). Alaska looks like a shoe – in for the Republican incumbent.
Elsewhere, in North, Carolina and Georgia, it is looking good for Republicans. Even if Trump loses Georgia, which is becoming more and more a possibility as late Atlanta votes come in – runoffs for the two Senate elections would not occur until January and it is far more likely a GOP determined to keep a check on a Democratic President and House can mobilize their base. Republicans did lose in AZ and CO, as expected, but the big surprise of the night was Susan Collins outrunning Trump and proving local connections still do matter in federal contests (even as other long-time incumbents in House races fell).
Arguably Democrats could still win North Carolina or Georgia. Some reports urban Atlanta is still reporting and could swing the state blue, taking David Perdue down with Trump. It is unlikely. So is Tillis losing at this point.
As for the House, well, that blue wave that was supposed to crest and take out GOP incumbents coast to coast and insulate Democrats in red and purple areas seems not to have materialized. The Democratic class of 2018 seems to have thinned significantly in the trending blue suburbs and after last night the idea of the conservative Democrat might become a myth.
What does all this have to do with progressives? Well, progressives needed a dominant Democratic Congress to push Biden leftward. Biden, or at least his staff, is not stupid. They can read the tea leaves. If they cannot get anywhere by pushing a progressive agenda and instead try to craft compromises with a McConnell led Senate. In the House, a thinned out majority will likely lead to more battles between surviving moderates who represent the suburbs vs. full – throated progressives like “The Squad” only to see their wishes die in the Senate.
In the states, the GOP enjoyed surprising success. Current counts show not a single statehouse flipped to Democrats with the party failing to flip the Texas House, Pennsylvania’s chambers, or the Michigan statehouse. In North Carolina, it seems the GOP added to their majorities, recovering from 2018 and the party, despite losing New Hampshire at the top of the ballot badly, actually managed to regain both chambers of the legislature.
How this plays out for Biden is unclear. It really does depend on what his natural inclinations are. If he wants to focus on compromise legislation and bring America back to a more stable political position this would be his dream scenario to make it happen. If Biden does actually believe in all the progressive ideals he has supported in the last year, than, well, what I just said is moot. That’s not to say Biden actually would succeed – as with Trump out of office the various interest groups Democrats court would inevitably clash with each other – stalling out any legislative agenda he would wish to pursue.
As the returns become more finalized we will have a clearer picture but for now, despite a likely Biden win, it sure does not look like the blue wave that was promoted emerged.