Democrats wanted more out of this year’s election. They wanted bigger pickups in the House of Representatives, and at least a net pickup in the Senate.
Those things didn’t happen, which have led some commentators to suggest that the so-called “blue wave” of election wins that Democrats had hoped for was more of a trickle. Associated Press journalist Zeke Miller, for example, tweeted on Monday that there was “no ‘blue wave'” in this year’s contests.
With all due respect to Mr. Miller, however, there was a blue wave in this year’s midterms. The proof is in the pudding.
We needn’t look too far to find that proof. Congressional wins were huge for Democrats in the House, with the party flipping at least 32 seats and possibly as many as 38 seats, as some contests are still being figured out at this time, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal. In a chamber where Republicans had a 42-seat majority, Democrats will now have a majority of between 22 seats to 29 seats. That’s a significant change that can’t be overlooked as a minor occurrence.
The Senate is a different story — but Democrats faced an uphill climb in that chamber from the start, per reporting from Reuters. The chances of them winning both houses of Congress were slim to none, even before talk of a blue wave began, based on the simple fact that Democrats had to defend more seats than they could try to go after.
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) November 7, 2018
Democrats will probably end up losing a net number of seats in the Senate to Republicans, rather than having a net gain. But the wins they did get this year are worth discussing, because they demonstrate some significant changes in the electorate in at least two states: Nevada, where Jacky Rosen ousted an incumbent Republican, and Arizona, where Krysten Sinema became the state’s first female senator (and first Democrat elected to the Senate in a quarter century).
Senate races were close in at least three other states as well: Georgia, Florida, and Texas. The last state mentioned, and the possibility of it becoming a battleground state, creates more headaches for President Donald Trump and Republicans overall, especially going into 2020.
The blue wave was noticeable in statewide races, too. Governor seats flipped from Republican to Democratic in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Kansas, according to reporting from Governing. They remained blue in tough races like Minnesota and Colorado. State legislatures in seven states turned blue as well, according to the Washington Post. Significantly, Democrats were also able to prevent supermajorities in three state legislatures where Democratic governors won election, allowing those governors to work without the threat of veto-proof Republican majorities.
Could the blue wave have been stronger? Of course it could have. More seats could have been won in Congress, and more governor positions and state legislatures could have flipped to Democrats. Yet to suggest that this wasn’t a wave ignores one major point: a significant check on the president was established in our federal government.
That was the goal all along for the blue wave — and it came to fruition on Tuesday night.