The Blue Wave Election Re-Cap and Update

Contributed by Paige Barnett.

The midterm elections were, to say the least, a real humdinger — a nail biter. They quite literally kept us on the edge of our seats.  “What ifs” come to mind: What if all the canvassing didn’t work? What if people didn’t get their postcards? What if people don’t care?  What if we don’t flip the House? What if? But…YOU DID IT! YOU REALLY DID IT! Door by door, post card by post card, voter by voter — you built the Blue Wave.  YOU showed up and YOU made it happen.

So, how did it all go down on election night?  Initially, early returns on the night of November 6th seemed to indicate Democrats may have only gained a high tide, at best.  But then, one by one, as an increasing number of precincts reported, more blue ripples and streaks started turning up. Then – just like that, the Blue Wave surfaced with a might and glory that had not been seen in over 30 years.

In New Jersey, only one Congressional District in the entire state remained red when all votes were counted. Tom Malinowski unseated Leonard Lance in District 7. Mikie Sherrill filled a seat in the 11th District that had been held by Republicans for more than 30 years. And, after an eight-day delay in a very tight race, Andy Kim unseated incumbent Tom MacArthur in District 3. And, Senator Bob Menendez clinched his bid for re-election, besting former pharma exec and Trump supporter, Bob Hugin.

In Pennsylvania, the U.S. Senate seat was held by Bob Casey, and Tom Wolf won re-election for governor. Overall in the keystone state, Democrats held the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th and 18th districts and flipped the 5th, 6th, 7th and 17th districts for the House.¹

We were saddened by some losses in hard-fought races, however.  Scott Wallace failed to unseat incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick for House of Representatives in Pennsylvania Congressional District 1.  While Helen Tai was successful in her bid in the May special election for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, she was unseated by Wendi Thomas for PA District 178 House of Representatives.  

The governor’s races in Georgia and Florida were unfortunate losses for Democrats.  In a speech, Stacey Abrams refused to concede and called out the purging of the state’s voter rolls and suppression largely aimed at African-Americans.  Abrams has since filed a federal lawsuit.³ The Florida governor’s race found Andrew Gillum conceding 11 days after the election to the Republican candidate, Ron DeSantis.

More recent election calls included Senate races in Florida and Arizona.  Republicans flipped the Florida seat, installing former governor Rick Scott, but Democrats flipped the Arizona seat by electing the first openly bi-sexual woman, Kyrsten Sinema.  The final Senate race was determined in a runoff MIssissippi on Nov. 27, with the Republican incumbent, Cindy Hyde-Smith, holding her seat against her challenger Mike Espy, Democrat.  In addition, delayed election results saw more Blue waves roll in with six House seats gained in California and one each in New York, Maine and Utah.⁴ In total, the Blue Wave secured 40 seats for Democratic legislators.

It’s important to note that even where Democrats lost, the margin of victory in traditionally Red states and districts was significantly narrower than previous elections. Further, the election smashed records for expanding representation from broader demographics, with most running on the Democratic ticket. For the first time, elected officials are looking more like the rest of America with:

  • The first Muslim women to run and be elected are Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashid Talib (D-MI).  
  • The first Native American women elected are Deb Haaland (D-NM) and Sharice Davids (D-KS).  Davids is also the first openly gay woman to be elected to congress.
  • Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) is the first African American woman elected to Congress from her state.  
  • Jared Polis (D-CO) is the first openly gay and first Jewish man elected governor of his state.  
  • Chris Pappas (D-NH) is the first openly gay man elected to Congress for his state.  
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is the youngest woman elected to U.S. Congress.  
  • Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is the first female Senator to represent her state.
  • Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) is the first Latino female governor of New Mexico.  
  • Janet Mills (D-ME) is the first female governor of Maine.   
  • 107 women ran and won seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.⁶  

To summarize, the hard work done by the Blue Wave saw the Democrats gain control of the House and flip seven governorships. Democrats saw a net gain in six state trifectas, meaning they control the state’s governorship, state senate and state house.  Currently, Democrats hold 14 state trifectas while Republicans still hold 23 and 13 states remain divided.⁵

As a whole, the Blue Wave moved the entire country to the left. 317 out of 435 Congressional districts (73%) were more blue on Election Day than they were in 2016.  That is an amazing feat! Never underestimate the power of the people.

That is progress.

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