In the 2018 Midterms, Democrats Won Where It Counted

Abigail Spanberger

Patriotic Americans should view the 2018 midterms as a victory.


First and most importantly, Democrats won the House. America and the world needed the House of Representatives to provide a check on the federal abuse of power by Donald Trump and his party. By a massive national popular vote margin of roughly 4 million votes, America elected a Democratic majority to restore the constitution and the rule of law. Without the craven federal GOP to cover for Trump’s deep corruption and abuse, the Trump Administration will be exposed to public scrutiny in the two years leading up to the critical 2020 presidential race.

Second, the GOP’s tactics were horrific even by their recent standards. The Party of Trump threw everything that they had at stealing this election. They blew a trillion dollar hole in the federal budget at the top of President Obama’s recovery, creating a sugar high of economic activity to preserve their majorities. They attacked Democratic challengers with robocalls full of racism and lies, and deliberately suppressed the vote. They politicized the U.S. military by sending it to “defend” against a caravan of desperately poor and unarmed migrants that was still weeks away from the border. They openly embraced a deeply racist and dishonest closing commercial. If Republicans had won the House with those tactics, how much worse would things have gotten in 2019 and 2020? Federal voter suppression, military stunts, and even more overt assaults on the press would have been not just possible but likely. American democracy might not have survived the blow.

Third, heading into 2020, Democrats have some new assets. Since 2016, millions of entrepreneurial and enthusiastic citizens have poured their hearts into defeating Trumpism. If their efforts had been thwarted, the demoralization would have been palpable and devastating. Instead, those groups are now battle hardened. They will pore over the results to learn lessons about how to extend their wins. After the 2018 midterm results, the #Resistance will be bolstered rather than spent.

Background: Gretchen Whitmer; Inset: Mikie Sherrill; Michelle Lujan Grisham; Joe Cunningham; Lauren Underwood; Sharice Davids; Antonio Delgado; Kendra Horn.

Fourth, Democrats now have a host of outstanding and authentic young leaders. Responsible, tough, and forward-looking patriots will redefine the Democrats’ brand heading into the presidential cycle. All Americans can be proud of leaders such as Sharice Davids in Kansas, Lauren Underwood in Illinois, Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, Abby Finkenauer in Iowa, Abigail Spanberger in Virginia, and many others.

To be sure, 2018 was not the decisive national repudiation of Trumpism that many wanted. But no one familiar with the global history of ethnofascism should have expected an easy fight. Race-based tribalism has been a potent political force for as long as humans have existed. The 2016 election showed us that modern America was not immune, as the Party of Trump and Putin won all three branches of government in 2016. But they had a clear shot at repeating that trick in 2018, and they failed.

Yes, there were heartbreaks. Yes, voter suppression worked. Yes, truly awful politicians won races against truly inspiring people, as in the Texas Senate and the Florida Governor races. Yes, nasty members of the U.S. House won their re-elections, such as Steve King of Iowa and Devin Nunes of California. Yes, fear-mongering generated turnout among pro-Trump white men without college degrees. Yes, Republicans picked up Senate seats. Yes, that will make it easier for them to stack the courts and the executive branch with extremists.

Against all of those heartbreaks, however, Democrats broke the fever of Trumpism in key battlegrounds across the industrial heartland, easily winning Senate races in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, while picking up governor’s races in Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois. Kris Kobach lost. Kendra Horn won an upset victory in Oklahoma’s fifth congressional district. Democrats flipped hundreds of state legislative seats. In many chambers, that was decisive — for instance, the Democrats broke GOP supermajorities in North Carolina, where the GOP had been trying to anti-democratically lock in their power. On balance, those wins might just cancel out the gains the GOP made in the federal Senate.

We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we got what we needed. American democracy is still alive and kicking.