After a grueling and vexing past 18 months, Democrats have emerged triumphant in House races nationwide, picking up more than the necessary seats to regain control of the House.
Early results were indeed concerning with Amy McGrath losing Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District and Senator Joe Donnelly losing his seat in Indiana.
Further, President Trump’s support of Senators-elect Hawley in Missouri and Braun in Indiana was fundamental in consolidating the Republican base and ultimately winning the midterm over the electorate in each statewide race.
That said, significant pick-ups down our nation’s Eastern coast, with tremendous Democratic wins in traditionally Republican districts, especially New York’s 11th district on Staten Island and Brooklyn with U.S. Army veteran Max Rose defeating Rep. Dan Donovan, former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Mikie Sherrill defeating Senate Assemblyman Jay Webber in northern New Jersey’s 11Th district, and retired Navy Commander Elaine Luria defeating Republican incumbent Scott Taylor in Virginia’s 2nd district, made clear the Democratic enthusiasm, particularly that toward women, were growing.
In addition, we saw very important Democratic gains in the Midwest with Democrat Dean Phillips defeating incumbent representative Erik Paulsen in Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional district and Illinois 13th district going for Betsy Londrigan over incumbent Rodney Davis. These districts continue to show the evident trend among college-educated suburban voters that they are disheartened by President Trump’s rhetoric and are looking for a check on his presidential power.
In this way, I would argue that suburban voters have issued a statement on the first half of the Trump presidency. These voters have shown that they disapprove of President Trump and that they prefer that our country move in a more consistent, strategic, and positive direction than what President Trump and the Congressional Republicans have done, if not failed to offer, in the past year and a half.
This interest in change persists in districts like Virginia’s 7th Congressional district with Abigail Spanberger’s too close to call race with David Brat, the same man who defeated Senate Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary in 2014 by running to Cantor’s right.
And in Illinois 6th Congressional district, Republican incumbent Peter Roskam fell to Democratic challenger Sean Casten in another race where educated suburban voters rejected President Trump’s agenda and voted with a moderate, Democratic alternative.
In upstate New York, two districts that are also traditionally red also swung towards the Democrats. In New York’s 19th and 22nd Congressional districts, Antonia Delgado and Alex Brindisi, respectively, both defeated their Republican incumbents.
While many would think this could be a time for Democrats to advance a progressive agenda, it is now more important than ever for our two major political parties to make compromises that move our country forward.
What’s also evident from this election is that the Republicans will build on their majority in the Senate. The Democratic minority must find ways to support bipartisan policies, especially essential health care reforms, new infrastructure plans, and a middle-class tax policy that moves our economy forward, rather than hand out the greatest benefits to special interests.
Based on the results we see this week, what is arguably most important is winning back the governorships in at least two critical states in the Midwest that are essential to Democratic fortunes in the future, especially in presidential years.
Those are Michigan and Illinois.
J.D. Pritzker’s win in Illinois affirms that a Democratic pro-business, pro-reform agenda can succeed. Additionally, Gretchen Whitmer’s moderate-centrist path to victory in Michigan outlines the way in which Democratic candidates can find victory nationwide.
Whitmer ran as a pragmatic, problem-solving Democrat, who in her own words, vowed to “fix the damn roads,” and sought to fix health care policy for her constituents who otherwise found themselves struggling to both understand and afford premiums under the Obamacare program. To them, Whitmer’s both candidacy and victory symbolizes a fix to this type of system which is seen in man, if not dozens of states, nationwide.
Indeed, a swing towards centrist-Democrats was observed in the rust-belt states and throughout the Midwest, which Trump largely swept in 2016, with a number of moderate Democratic candidates from Pennsylvania and Michigan succeeding across the board in flipping previously red districts. Namely, Michigan’s 11th congressional district and Pennsylvania’s 6th and 8th all saw Democrats solidly win.
Furthermore, the power of a centrist agenda was observed in the Democratic victories in several key House races in Minnesota’s 3rd district which elected President Trump just two years ago.
In sum, Democrats who ran on a moderate, centrist platform not only saw their numbers improve in a number of House seats, but also enabled the Party to flip several once Republican governorships.
Ultimately, what won the day for Democrats were the moderate messages and centrist campaigns that disavowed Nancy Pelosi and provided compelling alternatives to Republican policies.
In this same vein, it would be a cataclysmic error to make Nancy Pelosi the next speaker of the House. Democrats must take this newly gained leadership as an opportunity to unite the country and stifle the division that has hurt this country for the past two years.
Democrats’ first order of business must be to move forward on a bipartisan infrastructure package that has been discussed in recent days and as far back as Trump’s first days in office.
Unnecessary and divisive investigations, or extreme actions like subpoenaing a sitting president, will only be to the detriment of the country.
Now that the balance of power has shifted, it is incumbent upon our newly elected Congress to make a case for unity, and accomplish tangible policy initiatives that impact the hard-working Americans who just voted to shift the power dynamic in Washington.