Dems dis­sect elec­tion re­sults and find big dose of good news

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By STEVE PEO­PLES and ZEKE MILLER

NEW YORK (AP) - Democrats woke up to a big dose of good news Wed­nes­day as they dis­sected elec­tion re­sults from around the coun­try. One year af­ter the sur­prise elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, there were plenty of en­cour­ag­ing signs for Democrats try­ing to travel the road to re­cov­ery. Some key elec­tion take­aways:


Af­ter a series of losses in red­state spe­cial elec­tions, Democrats fi­nally had the night they needed to prove the much-dis­cussed “Trump re­sis­tance” move­ment can be an elec­toral force. They notched a showy win in the Vir­ginia gov­er­nor’s race, where Ralph Northam won by nearly nine points. The New Jersey gov­er­nor’s race was a Demo­cratic blowout. Maine vot­ers ap­proved a Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion that was seen as a ref­er­en­dum on for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law. And Manch­ester, New Hamp­shire, elected its first Demo­cratic mayor in a decade. Ac­tivists em­bold­ened by Trump’s vic­tory have long claimed they had the power to change elec­tions. They fi­nally proved it at the bal­lot box.


Just be­fore Elec­tion Day, for­mer Trump strate­gist and Bre­it­bart boss Steve Ban­non cred­ited Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Ed Gille­spie of Vir­ginia with ral­ly­ing be­hind the pres­i­dent’s agenda, say­ing a per­ceived boost in the polls was an in­di­ca­tion that “Trump­ism with­out Trump can show the way for­ward.” But the op­po­site may be true.

Gille­spie may not have fully em­braced the pres­i­dent, but he did his part to court Trump vot­ers — in­clud­ing em­brac­ing the pres­i­dent’s rhetoric on Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments and kneel­ing by NFL play­ers dur­ing the na­tional an­them. He even re­ceived an Elec­tion Day boost from Trump him­self in the form of robo­calls that de­clared Gille­spie “tough on crime and on the bor­der.” But it was all for naught, as the lob­by­ist and for­mer of­fi­cial in Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion was trounced by Northam.


It may not have gar­nered as much at­ten­tion, but Demo­cratic gains in state houses could lead to last­ing po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences in Wash­ing­ton.That’s be­cause state gov­ern­ments con­trol re­dis­trict­ing, the once-ev­ery­decade process of re­draw­ing con­gres­sional dis­tricts.The GOP con­trolled the vast ma­jor­ity of state houses in 2010 and used that edge to cre­ate ad­van­ta­geous po­lit­i­cal maps in many cases. If Tues­day’s re­sults are a har­bin­ger of what’s to come, Democrats may be poised to flip the script. In Vir­ginia, Democrats picked up at least 14 House seats, and the state House ma­jor­ity re­mained in reach with a hand­ful of races still too close to call. In Wash­ing­ton state, Democrats need to pick up just one seat to con­trol the state Se­nate. Demo­cratic ac­tivists are vow­ing to re­dou­ble their ef­forts in down-bal­lot races go­ing for­ward.


In Vir­ginia, Gov.-elect Northam more than dou­bled Hil­lary Clin­ton’s mar­gin of vic­tory, and the re­sults can’t be solely at­trib­uted to anti-Trump en­thu­si­asm. The GOP is show­ing signs of strug­gle in the sub­urbs, where Trump al­ready had run weaker in 2016. That’s a sign of trou­ble for the party be­fore the midterms. Take Chesterfield County, Vir­ginia, a re­li­ably con­ser­va­tive sub­urb of Richmond, where Gille­spie un­der­per­formed even Trump. It will take weeks to pre­cisely di­ag­nose the drop-off in GOP sup­port. But in re­cent years, the GOP has re­lied heav­ily on sub­ur­ban votes to main­tain safe seats in Congress, as they’ve used re­dis­trict­ing to carve out more fa­vor­able dis­tricts for the party. An ero­sion of sup­port in those strongholds could have dire con­se­quences for the party.


It was never go­ing to be easy for Trump and his al­lies in Congress to over­haul the na­tion’s tax laws. Fac­ing a wall of Demo­cratic op­po­si­tion, GOP lead­ers have to per­suade vir­tu­ally every Repub­li­can mem­ber to sup­port their tax plan. Some mem­bers serv­ing in swing dis­tricts al­ready were ner­vous. Af­ter Tues­day, it’s hard to imag­ine that vul­ner­a­ble Repub­li­cans across New York, New Jersey and Cal­i­for­nia are more will­ing to take a risk on taxes or any ma­jor pol­icy that could hurt their con­stituents. Blue-state Repub­li­cans al­ready have raised con­cerns that the cur­rent House tax plan largely wipes away the de­duc­tion for state and lo­cal taxes, which could be a ma­jor prob­lem for res­i­dents and busi­ness in high­tax states. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Repub­li­can, said Wed­nes­day that it’s more im­por­tant than ever for his party to pass a tax bill. For some of his mem­bers, it’s also more risky.


Vir­ginia Demo­cratic Gov. elect Ralph Northam walks on­stage to cel­e­brate his elec­tion at the Northam For Gov­er­nor elec­tion night party at Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity in Fair­fax,Va., Tues­day, Nov. 7, 2017. Northam de­feated Repub­li­can Ed Gille­spie.

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