TWO YEARS after a bitter defeat in America’s presidential election, the Democrats have won back control of the lower legislative chamber, the House of Representatives. A “blue wave” crashed over Republican territory in districts both light pink and crimson red. Democrats flipped at least 26 seats, including 17 in places where Mr Trump won in 2016, and enjoyed levels of support in suburban districts that rivalled presidential election years, when voter engagement is much higher. All across the country, Democrats enjoyed the spoils of their campaign against the president. In terms of the popular vote, their achievement is remarkable. At a 7-8 point popular-vote margin, their trouncing of the Republicans is larger than the defeat Barack Obama’s party suffered in the 2010 midterms. The fact that the Grand Old Party did not lose by a larger margin speaks to the built-in advantages that America’s electoral system grants them.
In the Senate, however, a dark cloud hangs over the Democrats. The Republicans’ structural advantages have become fully realised. Democrats lost badly in places where President Donald Trump won big in 2016. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota have all been booted out of Congress. The difference in outcomes between the upper and lower chambers speaks to the problems Democrats have with rural, white voters. In states with populations that match this description, the centre-left party will have to reinvent itself or wither.
More head-scratching for Democrats is the move of Florida, the quintessential swing-state, towards Republicans. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson from Florida will probably end up losing by fewer than 40,000 voters in the Sunshine State, and the Republican candidate, Ron DeSantis, won the governorship. Both wins were razor-thin. But given Florida has 29 votes in the electoral college, they are significant.
Source: Press reports