Election Dossier: A Divided Washington
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because this may be where the Democratic resistance really begins.
This is a Special Briefing from OZY and McClatchy, detailing the latest news from yesterday’s U.S. midterm elections. Our Special Briefings tell you what you need to know about an important issue, individual or story that is making news. Each one serves up an interesting selection of facts, opinions, images and videos in order to catch you up and vault you ahead.
WHAT TO KNOW
What happened? Democrats have taken over the House of Representatives while Republicans gained ground in the Senate, setting up a divided government for the next two years in President Donald Trump’s Washington. Meanwhile, Democrats won governorships in a handful of states and made gains in state legislatures.
Why does it matter? You’re going to see Trump’s tax returns — and so much more. With a House majority comes subpoena power, and the top item on Democrats’ agenda is aggressive oversight of the White House. But an expanded and more Trump-loyal Senate majority will have an easier time installing conservative judges in courts and confirming other presidential nominees. While legislative gridlock is likely, Trump could find a receptive audience for a plan to spend tons of money upgrading the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure.
HOW TO THINK ABOUT IT
It’s the year of the woman. Female candidates shattered the previous record of 107 women serving in the House and Senate. To what extent is still being tallied, but there will be a minimum of 117 women in the 116th Congress — at least 97 of whom will be Democrats. Since Trump’s inauguration, women have powered the Democratic resistance to his presidency, and in running and voting they were the engine behind the House takeover. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia, Sharice Davids in Kansas and Lauren Underwood in Illinois pulled off some of Democrats’ most impressive wins — while Republican women, like California’s Mimi Walters and Young Kim, appeared to fend off challenges in tough races. The next Congress will include the first Muslim women (Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar) and the first Native American women (Davids and Deb Haaland).
Political lines are being redrawn. The suburbs are getting blue, and rural areas are turning bright red. The states where Republicans knocked off Democratic senators — Missouri, North Dakota and Indiana — are rural and culturally conservative. The suburban bastions of the old GOP, which include the outer areas of Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles, are turning against Trump’s Republican Party.
The big names. Beto O’Rourke, running for Senate in Texas, and Andrew Gillum, gunning for Florida’s governorship, set liberal hearts aflutter over the past year — but both narrowly lost their races. Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, vying to be the nation’s first Black female governor in a race we tracked all year for OZY and McClatchy’s Ground Game series, was trailing early Wednesday but refusing to concede with hopes that enough absentee and provisional ballots would send her into a runoff with Republican Brian Kemp. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a mainstay of Republican politics, appeared to lose a squeaker to Democrat Tony Evers, while Republican Kris Kobach — the architect of some of the toughest voting measures in the country — lost a bid for Kansas governor to Democrat Laura Kelly. Then there’s 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, set to become the next U.S. senator from Utah.
Issues mattered too. While expanding the Medicaid health insurance program to more low-income Americans is not popular among red-state politicians, their voters certainly care. Ballot measures passed in Nebraska, Idaho and Utah to expand the program, a key tenet of Obamacare. Meanwhile, Michigan voted to legalize recreational marijuana, and Florida restored voting rights to an estimated 1.5 million felons.
WHAT TO READ
This Is How Republicans Lost the House, by Katie Glueck, Alex Roarty and Adam Wollner in McClatchy.
“If the election were in June, we would have kept the House,” [GOP strategist Corry] Bliss said. “The numbers were good, the economy was good. Then we had a summer of shit.”
2020 Starts Now, by Daniel Malloy in OZY.
“As Donald Trump settles in for two years of trench warfare with a Democratic House prepared to subpoena his White House to pieces, if not impeach him, Democrats are starting to figure out how to challenge him. Tuesday’s results offer a few clues of how it might go.”
WHAT TO WATCH
Stacey Abrams Vows to Remain in Gubernatorial Race
“Hard work is in our bones — and we have proven this every single day, Georgia.”
Watch on CNN on YouTube:
Sen. Ted Cruz Gives Victory Speech in Texas
“I want to also take a moment to congratulate Beto O’Rourke — he poured his heart into this campaign.”
Watch on Fox News on YouTube:
WHAT TO SAY AT THE WATERCOOLER
They fought the law and … they won. Indicted Republican Reps. Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California are on the verge of narrow re-elections in red districts despite facing federal charges for insider trading and misuse of campaign funds, respectively. That’s in addition to apparently victorious GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana, who admitted to body-slamming a reporter, and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, whose bribery case ended in a mistrial last year.