Midterm Voters Rejected One-Party Rule and Created Most Diverse Congress in U.S. History

by on November 14, 2018 · 0 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Politics

President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. Used with authorization.

What happened one week ago cannot be over-stated. Yeah, those mid-term results – whose vote totals are still coming in. And despite pundit declarations there wasn’t a “blue wave”, Democrats continue to be declared winners.

Yet, we must underscore and duly acknowledge the two huge things that happened last Tuesday. A majority of American voters rejected the one-party rule we’ve had these last two years, at least on the Federal level, – and in the process created the most diverse Congress in history. Or vice-versa.

The results were devastating to Trump. That’s why – the very next day – he blasted the mid-term news off the front page and out of the news cycle with his firing of Attorney Jeff Sessions and appointment of loyalist – and apparently, co-conspirator – Matt Whitaker as “acting” AG. Many progressive activists – instead of relishing and understanding what was coming down with all the votes – were forced to mobilize to protest threats to the Mueller investigation. (Then the firing/appointment crisis was superseded by the Thousand Oaks massacre which was in turn over-run by all the California fires.)

What happened on November 6 is still unfolding. What with Tony Thurmond’s lead as State Superintendent of Education, the election of Krystan Sinema as a Senator from Arizona, and the tightening of other California House races, along with the apparent gain of 35 to 40 House seats by Democrats, the burial of the blue wave by those pundits was premature.

These Democratic gains and the Republican losses in the House are the most since the mid-terms after the Watergate scandal. And they signify a majority of American voters have put an end to one-party rule. Before the mid-terms, Republicans controlled the White House and both Houses of Congress – plus now have a solid majority on the Supreme Court. That’s called one-party rule – and it’s one of the main reasons Trump and his acolytes in the House and Senate have gotten away with some much, or so little as it is.

But now American voters have said ‘enough is enough’ and have blocked the domination of the federal government by the Trump Republican party.

Over on the column of state governments, Democrats also cut deeply into Republicans’ one-party rules in those states where they control the governor’s office and both branches of the legislature. Before the election, Republicans with more than an over-all lead of three-to-one over Democrats, had 25 of those states and Democrats had just eight. After the election, Democrats are projected to add six more: Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico and New York, bringing their total to 14. On the Republican side, they gained control of Alaska but saw their one-party rules broken up in four others: Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

In addition, Democrats took control of a total of seven legislative bodies — New Hampshire’s House and Senate, Colorado’s Senate, Connecticut’s Senate, Maine’s Senate, New York’s Senate and Minnesota’s House. With ballots still being counted in some states and recounts possible in other close races, Democrats are posed for a net gain of about 300 state legislative seats.

Regaining power at the state legislative levels, Democrats are on track to level out the political imbalances they’ve suffered over the last 8 years. Most state district lines are drawn by the legislatures, and Republicans have utilized their one-party rules and control of state legislatures to draw up gerrymandered boundaries, enabling them to concretize a majority in the House. This leveling of the playing fields has major implications for 2020’s presidential election and for the next decade in Congress. .

The party that has been out of power also claimed seven governors’ offices that had been in Republican hands, winning races in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin. CNN

In California, Tony Thurmond has taken a 74,000 vote lead – which is substantial-  over Marshall Tuck in the contest for California’s state superintendent of public instruction. Thurmond has wiped out Tuck’s 86,000 vote lead from election day, and currently has 50.5 percent of the vote and to Tuck;s 49.5  percent. (Thurmond: 3,991,110 votes; Tuck: 3,917,015.)

In California House races, Democrat Josh Harder beat out four-term Republican Rep. Jeff Denham in California’s 10th Congressional District, and 15-term Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, lost his seat in the heart of red Orange County. Other Democrats, such as Katie Porter and Gil Cisneros, could still win their Congressional contests. Some call it a “slow-motion rout” for the G.O.P. as Republicans could very well lose 4 to 7 seats, mainly in suburban Southern California.

Another regional upset and major Democratic win was the Senate victory by Kyrsten Sinema over her Republican opponent Martha McSally, who by Monday night had a 38,000 lead and McSally conceded. (McSally may have her eye on the other Arizona US Senate seat which may come open soon.)

Most Diverse House in History

The other major development from the mid-terms is the American people have created the most diverse House of Representations in US history. More women in Congress, the most African-Americans ever.

Consider these:

We just had the election for the 116th Congress. Previously, the 115th Congress began with the highest number of African American members ever at the start of a Congress: 51 (46 Representatives, 2 Delegates, and 3 Senators), and accounted for 10.3% of voting Representatives in the House (45 of 435). Now, new figures show 12.4 percent of the House will be Black.

The number of African American women in Congress also has set a record, as their number will rise above 20 for the first time in history. The Black Women in Politics database, shows at least 468 Black women ran for political office in 2018.

Notably, in Harris County, Texas, 17 Black women, ran a joint campaign called “Black Girl Magic Texas” and won judicial posts. Harris County with Houston is the largest county in the state.

Latinos and Asian-Americans were also at their peak in the 115th Congress, where in the House, Latinos made up 9.4 percent and Asians made up 3 percent. As a result of this election, Latinos will have 11.3 percent in the new House and Asians will have stayed the same.

This election saw the first two Native American women elected to Congress, as well as the first two Muslim women. Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are the first Native American women and Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party are the first Muslim women.

Voters are sending the first two Latinas in Texas history to Congress as Veronica Escobar is replacing Rep. Beto O’Rourke and as State Sen. Sylvia Garcia will represent a Houston-area district.

Gains by Women

Women did make substantial gains in the House and Senate races – although not yet enough. The midterms did see a record high number of women running. And 35 women Democrats will be in the new Congress. With 65 women incumbents in the House, the new total will now be 100 female representatives, an all-time record. There needs to be 50 percent.

For the last 18 years, the numbers of women having House and Senate seats have steadily increased. This year’s election for the 116th Congress witnessed the second-biggest jump for women ever in the House, an increase from 20.5 to 23.0 percent (the first being in 1992). The number of women in the Senate increased by one or two, depending on a Mississippi run-off election.

The LGBT community responded to two years of unrelenting attacks by the Trump administration by running the most candidates ever. The New York Times reports L.G.B.T. candidates ran for office in record numbers this year with more openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people being voted into office in the midterms “than in any previous election, signaling a shift in cultural attitudes even as the Trump administration has chipped away at L.G.B.T. rights.” At least least 153 have won so far nearly all of whom were Democrats.

In Colorado, Jared Polis became the first openly gay man elected governor in any state. And Oregon’s Kate Brown is the first openly gay woman governor.

Other Election Notables

From Porter at San Diego Free Press, we have other notables:
  • First of all, there’s turnout. The get out the vote efforts around the nation worked. Statewide in California, we’re looking at 62%; San Diego County’s turnout will be several points higher. The last time more citizens voted nationally in a midterm election was 1914, though we as a nation still lack at turnout compared to many other nations.
  • 15 House Republicans with “A” NRA ratings lost on November 8. All 15 were replaced by Democrats with “F” NRA ratings.
  • Congress will be getting younger. The upcoming young Congress is the result, in part, of young voters. According to early estimates from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, a whopping 31 percent of Americans aged 18-29 voted in Tuesday’s midterms, a much higher share in any election since at least the mid-1990s. Two-thirds of them voted for Democrats, according to the same study.
  • Idaho, Nebraska  and Utah voters opted to expand Medicaid, while Kansas, Maine, and Wisconsin elected pro-ACA governors.

So, this recap demonstrates the enormity of this past election. One party rule is checked and the most diverse Congress in American history has just been elected.

These are no small feats in the era of Trump.

Sources for this post:

The Conversation


The New Yorker

Doug Porter at San Diego Free Press







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