The blue wave that wasn’t

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - OPINION - By Michael Gra­ham Cour­tesy of In­sid­ Michael Gra­ham is po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor of NH Jour­nal.

Call it the Oprah Elec­tion: You get a win! And you get a win! And you …

Democrats win con­trol of the House, along with all the chair­man­ships — and sub­poena power — that come with it.

Repub­li­cans add to their Se­nate ma­jor­ity, an un­usual feat in a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent’s first-term midterm. As a re­sult, it will be eas­ier for Pres­i­dent Trump to fill the first post-Ka­vanaugh Supreme Court va­cancy.

In the heart­land, red Kansas will have a Demo­cratic gover­nor, Laura Kelly. Blue Mas­sachusetts re-elected both Repub­li­can Gov. Char­lie Baker and 2020 pro­gres­sive POTUS can­di­date Sen. Eliz­a­beth War­ren in land­slides. Democrats made gains in leg­is­la­tures across the South and Mid­west, but couldn’t beat Repub­li­cans gov­er­nors in Ver­mont or New Hamp­shire.

In Texas, Ted beat Beto. In Florida, Ron DeSan­tis stopped An­drew Gil­lum. And the Democrats lost two po­ten­tial rock stars — for the mo­ment.

Florida, an al­leged “swing state,” won’t have a sin­gle statewide-elected Demo­crat as of Jan­uary. Sen­a­tor Bill Nel­son was the last, and had been the only one since 2005.

In New Hamp­shire, a pur­ported “pur­ple state,” Democrats main­tained con­trol of the en­tire con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion and flipped both houses of the state leg­is­la­ture — a dis­as­ter for the Gran­ite State GOP. But that same night, Gov. Chris Su­nunu be­came the first Repub­li­can re-elected to the gov­er­nor­ship since 1994.

It’s a true ‘al a carte’ menu of elec­tion re­sults. Yes, the Democrats won con­trol of the House for the first time in eight years, which is big news by any mea­sure. But, Trump sup­port­ers re­mind them, Bill Clin­ton lost 53 seats in his first midterm and Barack Obama lost 63 seats in his. So Pres­i­dent Trump has out­per­formed two of the most suc­cess­ful Democrats in the mod­ern era, Repub­li­cans can claim.

So what did we learn from the mixedup mess of the midterms?

That Don­ald Trump is the great­est GOTV mo­ti­va­tor in a gen­er­a­tion. And it’s the one area in which he’s com­pletely bi­par­ti­san.

That Repub­li­cans hop­ing the Trump Ef­fect would fade, or that the pres­i­dent would even get an elec­toral re­buke, must now rec­on­cile them­selves to the fact their party is re­ally his party.

That the idea of a se­ri­ous GOP chal­lenge to Trump in 2020 is, for the mo­ment, DOA.

That ev­ery­one who said “Why is Trump talk­ing about im­mi­gra­tion in­stead of the econ­omy?” was wrong.

That, as Demo­cratic strate­gist Joel Payne said, “Democrats are go­ing to have to even­tu­ally run the ‘Trump Gauntlet:’ Florida, Ohio and Mis­souri. They have got to find a way to win in those states.”

And now what?

Trump will de­clare vic­tory. He can make a le­git­i­mate ar­gu­ment that he spared the GOP the sort of dev­as­ta­tion his­tory would sug­gest and that re­cent polling had pre­dicted.

Democrats will tout their well-earned vic­tory in the House and say they’re on their way to tak­ing the White House in 2020.

Repub­li­cans will em­brace the fact that, as The Fed­er­al­ist’s Ben Domenech put it on CBS News on Tues­day night, “Democrats got the can­di­dates they wanted and still lost. Repub­li­cans got stuck with can­di­dates they didn’t want — and still won.”

Amer­ica’s pol­i­tics are di­vided. They were di­vided be­fore Trump and be­fore Barack Obama, for that mat­ter. The Amer­i­can peo­ple have some fun­da­men­tal dis­agree­ments on big is­sues, like the role of gov­ern­ment in our lives and the value (or lack thereof ) of iden­tity pol­i­tics. It’s go­ing to take an aw­fully big wave to wash all that away. We cer­tainly didn’t get it on Tues­day.

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