Demo­cratic wins sig­nal coali­tion of ‘en­ergy and anger’

The Guardian Weekly - - International news - David Smith Wash­ing­ton

Demo­cratic vic­to­ries in elec­tions across the US last week showed the first con­crete ev­i­dence of an emerg­ing anti-Don­ald Trump coali­tion, an­a­lysts said. Sweep­ing wins in Vir­ginia and sur­prise gains in state leg­isla­tive races – seen by many as a ref­er­en­dum on the pres­i­dent – have boosted Demo­cratic hopes of even big­ger wins in next year’s midterm elec­tions.

Bill Gal­ston, a se­nior fel­low in the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion gov­er­nance stud­ies pro­gramme, said: “The thing I found most strik­ing was the enor­mous in­crease in turnout, par­tic­u­larly on the Demo­cratic side. What that sug­gests is the en­ergy and anger have shifted from the Repub­li­can side, where it has been lo­cated for a series of elec­tions, to the Demo­cratic side. Trump suc­ceeded in mo­bil­is­ing his sup­port be­fore he suc­ceeded in mo­bil­is­ing his de­trac­tors. He’s now reached phase two.”

For the first time, there is a tan­gi­ble mea­sure of an anti-Trump coali­tion. “It’s a neg­a­tive coali­tion at this point,” Gal­ston added. “Anger, fear, con­cern are bring­ing his ad­ver­saries to­gether in the same way that an­tipa­thy to Barack Obama brought his ad­ver­saries to­gether.”

Democrats are now in a strong po­si­tion for the midterms, Gal­ston said. “It’s a fore­gone con­clu­sion that Democrats will gain con­sid­er­able ground in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. It’s not clear whether that will be enough to take con­trol.”

The elec­tions were widely in­ter­preted as a re­sound­ing ver­dict on the Trump pres­i­dency. Whit Ayres, a Repub­li­can poll­ster at North Star Opin­ion Re­search, said: “It’s hard to in­ter­pret the re­sult any other way.”

Democrats won the gov­er­nors’ of­fices in Vir­ginia and New Jersey, smashed a dom­i­nant Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity in the Vir­ginia house of del­e­gates and won a spe­cial elec­tion that gave them con­trol of the Wash­ing­ton state se­nate. They have gained at least 30 seats since Trump won the White House a year ago, end­ing years of Repub­li­can mo­men­tum.

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