It's Game on for 2018 as Dems Win Big a Year After Trump Victory
This week's gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey will set tails wagging in Democratic Party HQ ahead of the 2018 Midterms.
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This weeks’ elections in the United States took place almost exactly a year after Donald Trump’s victory and therefore provide an interesting political barometer.
The headline result of the night was Ralph Northam’s victory in the Virginia gubernatorial election where the Democrat Lt Governor comfortably beat the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee Ed Gillespie by 54% to 45%. The size of the win exceeded the expectations of most commentators and pollsters. The Democrats will also be encouraged that Northam managed to raise nearly $10million more than Gillespie.
In New Jersey, the former US Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy overcame the GOP’s incumbent Lt Governor Kim Guadagno, winning the race to Drumthwacket by a margin of 56% to 42%. Guadagno was clearly damaged by her close association with the previous Governor Chris Christie, whose approval rating plummeted to an abysmal 15%. In contrast Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe enjoyed very respectable approval ratings in the late forties until the end.
Gillespie and Guadagno drew from the Trump playbook, running strongly nationalistic and anti-immigration campaigns which both failed badly. The question is – was this an overall failure for the strategy or does Trumpism require Trump to succeed?
Gillespie and Guadagno drew from the Trump playbook and both failed badly
The Democrats’ inherent weakness across state legislatures make these and similar gubernatorial particularly significant as it will stymie the Republicans ability to construct the congressional and state legislative maps.
In New York City, Bill de Blasio was re-elected as Mayor with an impressive 66% of the vote. This was the first time in 32 years that a Democrat incumbent had been returned for a second term. De Blasio’s ambitions may now turn towards Albany which will lead to an ongoing, difficult relationship with the current Governor Andrew Cuomo.
This was the first time in 32 years that a Democrat Mayor in New York returned for a second term
Elsewhere there were a number of highly significant and even historic results. There were breakthrough victories for openly transgender candidates, with Andrea Jenkins in Minneapolis the first to win a city council seat and Virginia’s Danica Roem the first to be elected to a state legislature. Elsewhere in Virginia, the former TV presenter Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend was murdered on live television in 2015, contested a House of Delegates seat on a platform including moderate gun control and comfortably defeated an incumbent with an A rating from the NRA.
It will be fascinating to see if these victories represent a temporary blip or become part of a continuing trend. If a similar pattern of results were replicated in next year’s midterm elections then there would be a reasonable chance of Nancy Pelosi returning to the Speaker’s chair.