President Donald Trump said at multiple rallies leading up to Tuesday’s election that the vote was actually a referendum on him.
I would say he won.
Could the results have been better for President Trump? Sure. After all, 21 of the 33 candidates he endorsed lost Tuesday night.
That’s not a great percentage considering the time and money he spent at rallies and on Twitter spreading the word.
But there was no “blue wave” either.
There are more Republicans in the Senate now that there were before. The House will flip, but that is not uncommon for a midterm election. It was nothing compared to recent midterm elections.
Bill Clinton lost 54 in the House and nine in the Senate in his first midterm. Barack Obama lost 63 in the House and six in the Senate during the Tea Party revolution in 2010.
Trump gained in the Senate and lost about 30 in the House. There are still about 20 races left to be determined — a fact that is hard to fathom in 2018.
What did we learn Tuesday night? A few things.
It is possible for Oklahoma to elect a Democrat
After meeting Kendra Horn, I said if there was going to be a blue wave, that she would have to win or another candidate like her in a deep red state like Kansas. It turns out the Democrats needed Horn and Sharice Davids’ surprising wins just to take control of the House of Representatives. Horn is a difficult candidate to clone, though. You can’t make a playbook to be like her. Not many candidates are that smart, involved in organizing and experienced in campaigning. She took on a two-term incumbent with a military background and beat him. She is a great story and could very well become a player on a national stage.
It also didn’t hurt that her incumbent opponent sat on a huge war chest of campaign cash rather than spending it on the campaign. One day we may learn whether Steve Russell was overconfident or saving for a future race that he won’t have now.
Race is still a powerful motivator
In Kansas, a woman took on a Republican Secretary of State who had a horrible record of racially charged immigration and vote suppression policies. In Georgia, the same scenario happened. In Kansas, the woman challenger was a white State Senator. In Georgia, it was a black member of the state House of Representatives.
Guess which one pulled an incredible upset.
Laura Kelly of Kansas and Stacy Abrams of Georgia had similar resumes and opponents and very different results. Kelly didn’t even have Will Ferrell and Oprah Winfrey campaigning for her in Kansas.
In Florida, voters chose a candidate with ties to white nationalists over a black man who seemed to be a better candidate and easily won major debates. Andrew Gillham might have a chance to be a national figure later, but Tuesday was a painful loss.
I don’t think race was the primary factor in those races. There were plenty of issues that kept the votes close. When the elections are close, race can still be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Women are making strides, but the work isn’t done
It is kind of sad that we are celebrating the first time in history that more than 100 women were elected to Congress. It’s great to reach a milestone, but when the population is more than half women, representation in Congress at about 20 percent doesn’t sound like something to celebrate. However, it is progress and success breeds success. I expect more strong female candidates from both parties in the future. Even as I get way too close to my 50’s, the last thing I want to see is a bunch of entrenched elderly white men setting policy for a diverse country.
Change was expected and some came about
From Dana Rohrabacher losing in California (a big loss for Russia) to Scott Walker and Kris Kobach losing, all were good for America. Actually, those losses purged some bad seeds from Republican leadership, so I am all for it.
As are most elections, Tuesday night was a battle
Winning a war requires winning many battles. The Senate sets up better for Democrats in 2020 than it did in 2018. If a Democrat can run well against Trump in that same election, you would likely see a shift in that house as well.
With control of the House, Democrats have the power to see Trump’s tax returns — which he promised to release. The Mueller investigation is also going to conclude at some point. I thought two years seemed like a long investigation. At this rate, Barron Trump will be president before Mueller finishes.
Now Jeff Sessions has resigned at the President’s request so even that investigation is in jeopardy. After all, the House can impeach Trump all they want, there is no way the Senate acts on it.
Voters gave Democrats a check on President Trump and Republicans in Congress by turning the House blue. They also gave Trump an easier path to getting judges and other appointments through the house by increasing the partisan gap in the Senate.
It wasn’t a complete victory for Trump. But it could have been a lot worse. Compared to other first-term presidents, it is hard to see those results as bad news for this administration.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at email@example.com.