While Tuesday night was not a complete win for Republicans, there was no blue wave, either. By most measures, Republicans beat the odds of history and nearly everyone’s expectations, while Democrats were left disappointed as the fantasy of Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams and others winning fizzled.
Not one new progressive Democrat was successful bursting onto the scene. It will take a few days to process the meaning of this year’s election returns, but the instant analysis is clear: Democrats may have won the House, but Trump won the election.
As I always say, in politics, what is supposed to happen tends to happen. I predicted in August that the Democrats would take the House but that alone was not enough for most Democrats. As much as this year’s midterms offered an obvious opportunity to rebuke President Trump, little of what the arrogant Democrats and members of the mainstream media expected would happen actually did.
So much of what they said turned out to be wrong that it will take a while before the significance becomes clear. And if the 2018 midterms prove anything, it is that Trump is standing strong while Democrats and their allies who thought Trump would have been affirmatively rejected are in fact the ones who have themselves been denied.
Democrats have underperformed in comparison with the historical markers and general expectations of a midterm cycle. The president’s party loses 37 seats in the House on average in midterm elections when his approval is below 50 percent — but Democrats aren’t projected to pick up nearly that many seats. No liberal will want to admit it, but Trump is an asset to the Republican Party, while President Barack Obama was a disaster for the Democratic Party.
Let the message be clear: Voters had a chance to repudiate Trump and they did not. Much of the commentariat has said this year’s elections are about who we are as a country and what America is all about. Well, a lot of America seems to be about supporting Trump. The Democrats thought Trump’s negatives would be enough to propel them to victory. The 2018 results show it is clear they need a different plan if they think they can win in 2020.
The midterms largely followed the conventional wisdom of how midterms are supposed to go. The president’s party lost some seats, but by and large what happened was far from the blue-wave rebuke that Democrats and their allies in the media said was going to happen.
So if the midterms were supposed to be bad for the GOP and all eyes were on Trump this year, the big question is whether anything about Tuesday night’s results supports the idea that Trump was a weight on Republican candidates. Is Trumpism a political blight on the Republican Party? The answer is that Trumpism is a net plus. What that says about the GOP and America is unclear. But for the purposes of the 2018 midterms, Trump is a winner.
Trump and his allies have an appeal that the elites in New York and Hollywood cannot dismiss or combat. All of the 2018 Democratic heartthrobs lost. That must sap the enthusiasm of the resistance. For the most part, when voters had to decide, the angry left was rejected and Trump was rewarded.
Ed Rogers is a contributor to The Washington Post’s PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour in 1991. His work appears frequently on PennLive Opinion.
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