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A Historic Election Night for Democrats

by Countable | 11.8.17

What’s the story?

It was a historic election night for Democrats across the country. Gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey led the news, but many Democrats also managed historic wins in local races, and some state legislatures flipped party control. Voter turnout was huge for an off-year election and many exit polls suggest the results were a referendum on President Trump.

Why does it matter?

The election of Democrat Ralph Northam was considered a potential bellweather for the Democratic Party. He won against Republican Ed Gillespie by more than 5 points. Democrat Phil Murphy also won the governorship handily in New Jersey.

Here’s a list of some of the historic wins on Tuesday, per the Huffington Post:

  • Danica Roem (VA) - first transgender woman ever elected to a state legislature.

  • Andrea Jenkins (MN) - first trangender woman of color elected to city council, Minneapolis

  • Justin Fairfax (VA) - elected Lieutenant Governor, second African-American ever elected to statewide office

  • Sheila Oliver (NJ) - elected New Jersey’s first-ever female, African-American Lieutenant Governor

  • Vi Lyles (NC) - first female, African-American mayor of Charlotte

  • Yvonne Spicer (MA) - first female, African-American mayor of Framingham

  • Joyce Craig (NH) - first female mayor of Manchester

  • Tyler Titus (PA) - first transgender school board member, Erie

  • Ravinder Bhalla (NJ) - first Sikh mayor, Hoboken

  • Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala (VA) - first two Latinas elected to the state legislature

  • Wilmot Collins (MT) - first black, formerly refugee mayor in state history, Helena

  • Jenny Durkan (WA) - first lesbian mayor and first woman since 1928, Seattle

  • Melvin Carter (MN) - first African-American mayor, St. Paul

  • Kathy Tran (VA) - first formerly refugee, Asian-American woman elected to state legislature

  • Janet Diaz (PA) - first Latina member elected to city council, Lancaster

  • Jonathan McCollar (GA) - first African-American mayor, Statesboro

  • Brendon Barber (SC) - first African-American mayor, Georgetown

  • Mary Parham Copelan (GA) - first female, African-American mayor, Milledgeville

  • Booker Gainor (GA) - first African-American mayor, Cairo

  • Cathy Murrillo (CA) - first Latina mayor, Santa Barbara

  • Laura Curran (NY) - first female county executive, Nassau County

  • Lee Carter (VA) - first Democratic Socialist elected to state legislature, defeated GOP House Majority Whip

Also, Maine residents voted to expand Medicaid via referendum, in direct opposition to the Republican governor, and Democrats flipped the state legislature in Washington state, creating a wall of blue states between the Pacific and the rest of the U.S.

But what does it all mean? Here’s what various outlets are saying on Wednesday.

New York Times

"It was largely a suburban rebellion, where more moderate voters rejected Mr. Trump and embraced Democrats.

Be it New Jersey, Virginia or Charlotte, N.C., Democrats rode a miniwave of victories that will give them energy for candidate recruitment and fund-raising heading into the midterm elections next year.

Wall Street Journal

"Democratic officials are hoping the twin victories in Virginia and New Jersey are a harbinger of success in the 2018 midterm elections… On the Republican side, there is perhaps less to take away from Virginia than there would’ve been if the Republican in the race, Mr. Gillespie, had won. Many had projected that Republicans across the country would’ve looked to mimic a successful campaign by Mr. Gillespie, whose goal was to be moderate enough to appeal to independent voters and Trumpian enough to appeal to Mr. Trump’s base. Mr. Gillespie’s loss was a sign of how hard it is to walk that line.”

Washington Post

"Rep. Scott Taylor, a Republican who represents Virginia Beach, said both Democrats and Republicans registered their disenchantment with Trump. "I don't know how you get around that this wasn't a referendum on the administration, I just don't,” he told reporters. “Some of the very divisive rhetoric really prompted and helped usher in a really high Democratic turnout in Virginia.”

Politico

Exit polls revealed an unmistakable anti-Trump backlash Tuesday, as Democrats won resounding victories in governors races in Virginia and New Jersey…

It’s not uncommon for the president’s party to lose the off-year Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races in the first year of the new administration. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, >Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush also saw the opposition party sweep both races a year after their first elections.

But what is unusual about Tuesday night is the extent to which the two races were about Trump. And the stark results cast fresh doubt on the health of Republican majorities in the House and Senate, in addition to gubernatorial races in next year's midterm elections."

President Trump did not agree that Democratic wins were a repudiation, but, in fact, that Ed Gillespie lost because he didn’t embrace Trump enough:

What do you think?

What do you think these results mean for the Democratic Party? Or for the future of the country? Are you happy with the results or not? Why do you think elections were won or lost on Tuesday?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Minneapolis College of Art and Design)

Countable

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