Democratic wins signal coalition of ‘energy and anger’
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.