Many Democrats seem to feel that they “lost” the 2018 midterm elections, but that is not true.
Yes, a large number of Democrats are very disappointed (especially in my home state of Florida). And many rising progressive stars lost: Beto. Stacey. Andrew.
And Republicans still control the Senate.
But as election returns continue to roll in even now, and as deeper analysis is done of these returns, it is clear that 2018 brought one of the largest wave elections in U.S. history.
As of this writing, Democratic candidates for the House received 7.6% more votes than the Republican candidates. And, according to our research, this is the largest percentage advantage for EITHER party since 1974.
So let’s recap what we know so far so we can honestly assess what really happened on November 6 — and perhaps at the same time gain some insights into what we expect might happen in 2020.
Democrats Brought Down the House
Let’s begin at the beginning. Here is where things stood after the last two House elections:
- After the 2014 elections there were 247 Republicans and 188 Democrats.
- After the 2016 elections there were 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats.
As of this writing there are four races “too close to call” but Democrats are leading in two of them.
Without counting those four races, this is the current status of the House:
- 232 Democrats and 199 Republicans.
So if we realistically assume there is a split of the remaining four uncalled races, this would be an end result as follows for the 2018 elections:
- 234 Democrats and 201 Republicans
That result would be an increase of 40 Democratic seats since 2016 and an increase of 46 Democratic seats since 2014. By any measure, that is a fantastic result.
Perhaps what is most impressive of all is that this smashing takeover of the House was accomplished DESPITE YEARS OF GOP GERRYMANDERING.
There is no doubt that 2018 was a massive victory for Democrats in House races.
Democrats Won Over Two-thirds of Senate Races
Of the 35 Senate seats contested in 2018, 24 were won by Democrats and 10 by the GOP, with Mississippi undecided. So Democrats won 68.5% of Senate races.
We need to remember that of the 35 seats contested in 2018, 26 were held by Democrats, including 10 in states that President Trump carried in 2016. (And five of these went for Trump by at least 18 percentage points.)
In midterm elections since 1914, this was the greatest number of Senate seats the nonpresidential party had EVER had to defend. And Democrats won most of them.
We also need to remember that Republicans earlier in the year were talking about picking up nine Senate seats which would have given them a veto-proof 60-seat majority.
In the end, Democrats “flipped” two GOP seats (Nevada and Arizona) and lost just four of the ten races in Trump states (North Dakota, Missouri, Florida and Indiana). That is a very strong showing.
Democrats Win the States
All over the country, Democrats were successful in races at the state level. They picked up seven governorships and hundreds of statehouse races.
According to Ballotpedia 198 Republican incumbents lost their races this year. Also, Democrats picked up control of five state legislative chambers. And Democrats attained supermajorities in three full state legislatures—California, Illinois, and Oregon.
These strong results greatly improve the position of Democrats in many key states in advance of the congressional redistricting that will take place after the 2020 census. More Democratic control in state governments means less Republican gerrymandering.
Democrats Are Positioned Well for 2020
The total electoral votes in states where Democrats won Senate seats, governorships and the majority of House races are more than enough to propel a Democratic candidate to victory in the 2020 presidential race.
Since Democratic voters historically have lower turnout in midterms than in presidential years, it is reasonable to expect that Democratic candidates will do BETTER in 2020 than in 2018. This is especially true if they are running against a very unpopular president like Trump.
Given the great successes nationally in 2018 it is possible that in 2020 Democrats could keep the House while picking up control of the Senate, and also the presidency.
And speaking of presidents, Donald Trump still has not gotten the message that he and his party lost big this year.
He is still claiming victory, as evidenced by this delusional tweet:
“People are not being told that the Republican Party is on track to pick up two seats in the U.S. Senate, and epic victory: 53 to 47. The Fake News Media only wants to speak of the House, where the Midterm results were better than other sitting Presidents.”
People are not being told that the Republican Party is on track to pick up two seats in the U.S. Senate, and epic victory: 53 to 47. The Fake News Media only wants to speak of the House, where the Midterm results were better than other sitting Presidents.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2018
We can only hope that Donald Trump continues to live in a fantasy world, because if he does he will be greatly overconfident in 2020 and will no doubt suffer a loss of historic proportions.
Yes, there was a Blue Wave in 2018, and it was much bigger than most people think.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.