Encouraging Election Results for Progressives

By John Isaacs

After several frustratingly close losses in House special elections, Democrats came close to running the table on November 7.

Some key takeaways:

  • The election results, particularly in Virginia, were a major shot in the arm for Democrats. Virginia Democratic candidate for governor Ralph Northam won by approximately nine points, far exceeding the polling which averaged out to just a 3-point lead and winning by a greater margin than Hillary Clinton in 2016 or Governor Terry McAuliffe 2013.
  • Democrats avoided teeth-gnashing and despair that likely would have happened had Northam lost. Victory helps calm the fires and encourage the different camps to work together for the next year. It will also help encourage progressive national security candidates to run for office in 2018 and will help their fundraising efforts.
  • The unexpectedly large Democratic gains in the Virginia House of Delegates races significantly narrowed the Republican majority and, depending on recounts, may even give Democrats a narrow majority. David Wasserman, a House race guru at the Cook Political Report, delivered a very optimistic appraisal about Democratic chances in the mid-term election: “It’s hard to look at tonight’s results and to conclude anything other than that Democrats are the current favorite for control of the House in 2018.”
  • After the 2010 census, Republicans dominated the redrawing of congressional and state district lines to their advantage. This time around, both parties will be more focused on the process. On November 7, Democrats added Washington and New Jersey as states where they will be in charge of redistricting after 2020. This new focus on redistricting may help limit political gerrymandering – an issue before the Supreme Court — that has affected election results across the country.