Last Night’s Election Results

The Democrats took the House, so why does my twitter, facebooks, and text messages from friends feel like a funeral?

Because there were still a lot of people that voted for Republicans, and some key races were lost. Because Trump is tweeting out triumphant tweets. Trump, the master of the brand, is framing the election as a failure.

But it was a victory and with a Democratic house, there will be a brake on policies that don’t make me happy. Let’s give everyone a chance to recover and get some sleep, and then keep up the good work.

Open thread. Talk away.


34 thoughts on “Last Night’s Election Results

  1. I have a Democratic rep in both the house and the PA statehouse for the first time since I moved to my current home, almost 2 decades ago! The Philadelphia suburb changeover is huge, and in my opinion, unlikely to be reversed.


  2. I couldn’t agree more. Sure it would have been unbelievably awesome if Beto won, but the fact he gave a good fight was very important. We got rid of some awful people (Dave Brat!) (Kris Kobach) (LePage in Maine)
    (but not Steve King and the guy from Long Island, an embarassment to the tri-state area) and got the governorship in Wisconsin and Michigan! why are people upset…we need to build on this and we can. Democrats may never win Iowa, but if we also concentrate on our statehouses, there’s some way we can limit the damage the next two years will bring. I also feel like a lot of these changes are very solid. There are a lot of people who didn’t really care about voting and now are thinking that this matters. We have two more years to make more change. Slow but steady.


  3. I still can’t believe the No on Question 1 people in Massachusetts got nurses to vote against their own best interests. The question was about lowering nurse-patient ratios, i.e., nurses wouldn’t have heavy patient loads. Whatever, nurses.

    But we thankfully preserved a bill about civil rights for transgender people by passing Question 3. There was a nasty “but what about bathrooms” thread on my local FB group about it last night. At least it kept me distracted.


    1. I live in MA too and I was relieved to see Question 3 was soundly defeated. Not just by a little.
      Look a lot of democrats also voted for Charlie Baker. They like their money, their cushy jobs (many in hospitals) and they don’t understand the working lives of nurses. There was also a big push to make people worried their local hospitals, particularly in communities of color, would close. Which is a scare tactic! It was crazy.


  4. Can someone explain why northeasterners (loosely defined) elect republican governors?

    We are not happy because we hoped for more and because we can see the challenge of the structural design of the senate and the electoral college in full force. What’s the stat — ten million more votes in the senate races?

    The governor shifts are interesting.


    1. These are barely republican. I think a lot of New Englanders are inherently very frugal and conservative and like white people. But they also are hard workers and don’t love bosses. so its a weird thing. If you’ve ever heard Baker talk he’s a really nice masshole with a strong but not that strong accent. its not surprising he won! (he lost in my very liberal town).


      1. OK LePage was a real Trumper. So I’m wrong about that! But I even wonder about the CT republican who still might win the governorship how right-leaning he is. Most of them are pro-choice and not racists. Lots of WASPs in CT still.


  5. Michigan legalized marijuana, Arkansas and Missouri passed minimum wage laws. The dems should send a fed minimum wage law up.

    Want to hear more about the Oklahoma district that flipped.


  6. I think the thing that has me continuing to feel sick in the pit of my stomach is that Trump’s xenophobic, racist rhetoric seems to have helped the bad guys in FL, IN, MO, ND, . . . .


  7. (I’m tempted to question whether Laura’s fb feed and texts from her conservative Republican friends feel like a funeral, but I like to keep my friends, even the virtual ones, so I won’t.)

    Seriously, I can understand some Democratic disappointment, as the Democrats, for the third federal election in a row, underperformed expectations. I am not sure why this underperformance keeps occurring, but I would guess that wishful thinking among analysts, whose personal views skew somewhat left, and a desire to please the mainstream media audience, which does the same, contribute to systematic error.


  8. It is a good result, but it wasn’t a wave. Without a wave, it is clear that the Republicans can openly call for racial violence without hurting their chances. Which means 2020 will be worse than 2018, which featured three sets of terrorist attacks resulting in 13 deaths and would have been much worse but for a happy accident in Kentucky.


  9. People are ridiculously inclined to be optimistic. Almost immediately after the loss in 2016, I read several analyses discussing how it was basically going to be impossible to take the Senate this year, because of the configuration of the races. With that combined with the good economy, there was almost zero chance of a better outcome than this. Governors’ races turned out pretty well (esp for those of us in the midwest) and the House situation is just fine.

    I am sad that my friend who ran for state rep lost, and another friend who ran for county board lost. But in both cases their participation has gotten more people involved in politics, and that’s a good thing.


  10. Aside from the optimism, Democrats have been disappointed because the wins deviate from the number of people who support the party. Gillum, Abrams, and O’Rourke (might) have had enough support to win a general election to Senate (which, of course, is not a thing). I am not one who opposes the Senate’s non-representative sample of the country on principle. I think a country as diverse as the US, geographically, economically, . . . . needs to have some form of representation other than a simple majority across the entire nation (even if the system was set up to support the non-democratic support of slavery). But, the structure of the Senate does make it difficult to reconcile the general sentiment with the detailed outcomes. Even if you understand in principle, executing the probability prediction in practice is difficult.

    And, adding in the voter suppression efforts adds even more variability. I positive surprise was the states that voted in favor of non-partisan redistricting commissions and Florida’s initiative on allowing former felons to vote (the NY times article on the post-civil war racist origins of the law is quite eye-opening).


      1. Well of course. As Instapundit notes, if you think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines, you won’t go far wrong. But, this is a pretty clear instance of straight shooting on the part of ProPublica, which is nice.


    1. Bee Jay, I have mixed, but generally positive views on the Don Beyer / FairVote proposal for multi-member house districts and ranked choice election in those districts. I’m actually in Beyer’s district so we heard a fair amount about it. We would lose the laser focus on our own freeways from a representative who had three to five times the number of citizens to represent (that has pluses and minuses, but I think it’s generally minus). It becomes far more difficult to move precincts around to benefit one person, though, and it puts the incentives towards civil and affirming conduct much higher.


    2. I’ve never been a fan of ranked choice voting, but it will be interesting to see it play out in Maine’s 2nd district. I’m kind of attached to our 2 party system because I see the instability and negative outcomes of the multi-party parliamentary systems. But, it’s a low grade, non-evidence based attachment and I don’t mind seeing others experiment.

      Washington & California have top two primary systems (though not for president). I’ve now voted in a couple of races where both the top two were from one party (both Republican or both Democratic).


    3. The NY Times has an graphically animated article about gerrymandering/district turnover, focusing on North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. In NC & Ohio, 5% and 2.9% shifts in voting resulted in no turnovers, and TX, and only 2 turnovers. Ohio now will have a commission to re-district.

      MD Democrats say they won’t “unilaterally disarm” (when, say, TX & NC still engage in partisan gerrymandering), so I think it’s going to take courts & voters to push partisans in those states. It took an initiative in CA to take it out of the hands of Democrats (and, mind you, even if commissions are manipulated — as described in the propublica article, they aren’t as bad for increasing partisan power as leaving it in the hands of the actual partisans).

      I think the use of data to effectively gerrymander (as NC did) is one of the broader dangers of partisan-shaped districts in the modern age.


      1. Here in Arlington we recently lost a Dem activist who had been central to Va Dems’ efforts to keep the House of Delegates even when popular trends were against us. She worked tirelessly with, yes, precinct data to draw lines which would keep the Reeps out of power, and we kept the HoD for YEARS after we should have lost it with fair districts. And she did it with an IBM PC! This was a lot of work!
        Some of the Maryland districts which have just been overturned are ab-so-lute-ly spectacular!
        Once the Reeps finally did get control of the HoD, they gave it back to us good and hard – in the just-past 2017 we-hate-Trump pink wave election, Dems got nine per cent more votes statewide than the Reeps, and the result was a one-delegate margin for the Reeps, in the previous, Reeps got nine percent more votes than did the dems, and the result was two thirds of the delegates were Reeps. This is somewhat facilitated, of course, because Dems are so cuddly and like to live together, my own HoD district is overwhelmingly Dem and my community gave 16 per cent of its presidential votes to Trump.
        I like compact and contiguous and let the chips fall where they may.
        One other advantage of ranked choice, though, which I saw in Cambridge where I voted for several years, is that it enables smaller communities to get someone on a governing board. African-Americans, Irish, Italians – always they were on the City Council.


  11. I’ve been fairly attached to the “compact & contiguous” theory ever since, in the 90’s, I saw an analysis of districts in the Chicago area based on geometry. The argument the partisan districters made for the gerrymandering was that they were necessary for the voting rights act interpretation that there must be “majority minority” districts. But the Tribune commissioned a geometric map that produced the same representational outcome. The difference between the two maps was how well the gerrymander protected incumbents (while also satisfying the voting rights act).


  12. “..why does my twitter, facebooks, and text messages from friends feel like a funeral?” The LA Times rides to rescue you from perplexity! “Many Americans had believed that Trump’s election two years ago was a brief deviation from the norm that would be reversed once rational voters saw what he was like in office. The [midterm election] returns were a depressing wake-up call to the true extent of division in the country. In fact, tens of millions of people turned out to vote in favor of Trumpism….

    That message is horrendous. It is a message suffused with alt-right, racist ideology…. It is a message that manifests itself in shocking policies….

    The battle to quiet Trump and Trumpism did not end on Tuesday. It will be a long slog, and the voters who spoke up in opposition Tuesday will have to keep speaking for at least another two years — loudly, courageously, unmistakably.”

    It seems to me also that Trump and Trumpism respond to a number of beliefs held by a large number of citizens, and that the Dems’ urge to triumph over those people rather than trying to find ways to go forward in something closer to unity strengthen the reaction against the Dems. Also, Hillary should never again say ‘deplorable’, and Biden should purge the words ‘dregs of society’ from his vocabulary.


  13. The chattering classes (which I presume is the class that generates Laura’s twitter and fb feeds) want to consider Trump something extraordinary and unprecedented. However, most Americans do not manifest that view. There are three basic rules that explain substantially all the variance in federal elections over the past 30 years: (i) it is very difficult for one party to hold the presidency for more than eight years; (ii) given the political parties’ current configuration, the Electoral College mechanism significantly aids the Republicans; and (iii) the party that holds the presidency loses offices at every level of government during the presidential term. The last two elections, like the 10 or 12 before them, fall clearly within the predicted range.


    1. There are three basic rules that explain substantially all the variance in federal elections over the past 30 years…

      All true, but none of these explain why the *Republicans* chose Trump to bear their standard.


      1. Choosing Trump, the first president ever who had neither held elective office nor been a general, is indeed a something new. Although if Willkie had won the election, he would have been in the same category.


      2. Well, Jay, one explanation would be ‘Donald and the Nine Dwarfs’ – these were first-past-the-post primaries, and the guy who was notably different from all the rest got more delegates, even though more of the primary voters in many of the contests wanted somebody else. Ranked choice primaries would almost certainly have yielded a different result, assuming that very few second- or third- choice votes would have gone to the Orange Crusher.
        The Reeps in Virginia have had a couple of primaries recently which had something of the same effect, where wanna-be Trumpist Corey Stewart almost captured the gubernatorial nomination, and did capture the senate nomination, from more Main Street type Republicans. Stewart then got absolutely creamed in the general against Tim Kaine.

        There are some pretty good discussions about how ranked choice works in the stories about Jean Quan’s election as mayor of Oakland over Don Perata. Maine is moving to ranked choice (over the kicking screaming resistance of its political class) and Cambridge Mass has used it for many years. It discourages the discourtesy we have seen from The Donald.


      3. anked choice primaries would almost certainly have yielded a different result, assuming that very few second- or third- choice votes would have gone to the Orange Crusher.

        Oh come now. This presumes that we are living in a fantasyland where Republicans don’t like Trump. But they do like Trump. Trump gave the majority of Republicans what they want. This says as much about the current state of the Republican id as it does about wonkish voting reform.

        And if you truly want majoritarian government, first fix the senate, the electoral college, and gerrymandering. This will do more than ranked choice (or other equally Arrow’s Theorem violating systems) ever would.


  14. ey81 said,

    “There are three basic rules that explain substantially all the variance in federal elections over the past 30 years: (i) it is very difficult for one party to hold the presidency for more than eight years; (ii) given the political parties’ current configuration, the Electoral College mechanism significantly aids the Republicans; and (iii) the party that holds the presidency loses offices at every level of government during the presidential term. The last two elections, like the 10 or 12 before them, fall clearly within the predicted range.”


    It reminds me of the environmental game “Oh Deer!”

    (It’s a habitat simulation game that demonstrates how deer population fluctuates predictably between booms and busts.)

    So, it would behoove all of us to not act like it’s realistic that our party/political philosophy is ever going to get a permanent lock on the White House and Congress. We can expect a) the White House and Congress to wind up in different hands and b) that the other guys will be in power some of the time.

    Any political philosophy based on the idea of my party in power forever is going to predictably lead to disappointment. It’s not going to happen.

    Also, second look at federalism? It is the answer to a lot of the US’s current problems, but nobody wants to let go of the mirage of total power.


  15. The general principles @Y81 seem a quite reasonable theory to me, potentially a feature of the structural characteristics of our government.The majoritarian form of government seems like it would be weighted towards bringing parties close enough to one another that periodic flips and divided government would be an expected outcome (I vaguely remember a political science simulation that made that argument in a class, though I acknowledge the dangers of opining on political theory in this audience).

    I disagree, though, that the majority of Americans see Trump as part of the ordinary and not out of the norm (though I would also not be willing to argue for unprecedented without greater knowledge). I see Trump’s takeover of the Republican party as an extremist trend on par with the lead up to secession in the mid 19th century, and though I wouldn’t argue that I’m the majority, I’m definitely part of a significantly large population of people with the same belief.

    The non-racist Republicans trying to grasp at various straws for explaining Trump’s capture of the Republican party (the condescension of the elite, populatism, economic stressors, geographic inequalities of opportunity). But, if Trump’s ascendance is (as I believe) the last (hopefully, because the other path is to authoritarian, non-democratic government) grasp of the white, christian, majority to hold on to power and exceptionalism in a changing America and a changing world. Some of those people are racists, in the sense that they believe that races are real, separable, behaviorally distinct, . . . . Some of them just have a vague sense that things used to better for them, without thinking through that the better for them was a result of the worse for others. That’s the frame I see the current political battles being fought in. In that context, the arguments that other forces are the reason for Trump ring as hollow to me as should the states rights arguments for the civil war. The civil war was about continuing and protecting the way of life that depended on enslaving roughly half of the population (in the states in which that was permitted). It was not sustainable, and no concession in the form of home rule, states rights, was a plausible compromise.

    Supporting economic development in the dispossessed parts of the country is certainly an acceptable goal for the Democratic party, but compromise on the issues of the multi-cultural, diverse, American future can’t be, any more than concessions to slavery were ultimately feasible, even if the result is anger on the part of the racists (or slave owners).


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