By: Ryan Kirby, Columnist
On Election Day, voters went to the polls to cast their ballot. Voters turned out in record numbers with the highest midterm turnout in over half a century. Just over 47 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot. With Republicans in control of every branch of government, there was much media coverage over whether or not Democrats would be able to create a wave election to take back much of they had lost in the past decade. As the results have continued to trickle in, it is clear the blue wave made landfall this year.
Democrats sent a clear message to the Republican Party by picking up approximately 38-39 seats in the House of Representatives, seven governorships and over 300 state legislative seats. Some will try to point to the losses Democrats took in the Senate, but that argument lacks a basic understanding of the context surrounding those races. Republicans were handed the most favorable map possible with 24 Democrats, and two independents who caucus with the Democrats, up for re-election and only nine Republicans. Ten of those Democrats up for re-election were running in states that President Donald Trump had won. The simple fact that Republicans were only able to take two seats when they were handed their best-case scenario shows that many Senate Democrats were protected by a Blue Wave during a strong campaign.
In Maryland, we were unsuccessful in our attempt to elect Ben Jealous as our next governor, and we will have four more years of Governor Larry Hogan. Maryland Democrats were successful in re-electing Senator Ben Cardin, Attorney General Brian Frosh and Comptroller Peter Franchot. District 6 will have David Trone as its new representative in Congress, but overall there was no partisan difference in our congressional delegation.
Hogan initiated his “Drive for Five” with the intention of winning five seats in the State Senate to break the Democratic supermajority. With some amazing campaign work across the state, Democrats were able to hold supermajority and will be able to override Governor Hogan’s vetoes if necessary. Democrats also picked up three county executive seats in Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties.
There were countless wins up and down the ballot across the country that could be written about and analyzed in thousands of words as to why they won, but I would rather focus a discussion on how this year’s elections shaped the two parties. When it comes to the Republican Party, was Trump more beneficial or harmful to his party? Has Trump altered the major policy issues of the Republican Party? Did the 2018 elections provide evidence as to whether Trumpism is only temporary, or will it have a long-lasting impact on the future of the Republican Party?
When it comes to the Democratic Party, are there any meaningful lessons that can be draw from the election results? Democrats ran progressives and moderates in tough elections and in some cases came up defeated. Does the party focus on the lessons we can learn from losses and victories of progressives or does the focus get placed on the moderates?
I don’t claim to have the answers to those questions, but they are incredibly important to consider as more data becomes available and the narrative gets shaped with time. Both parties need to consider how their futures will be shaped. What issues do they want to be known for and what will they do to earn the votes of Americans? The burden isn’t entirely on the parties either as Americans need to consider what it is they expect from their parties and vote accordingly.
How has the 2018 election altered the two parties? Can any lessons be drawn from the elections?