Comment Writer Tom Moran explains why the results of the recent US Midterm are more of a blue ripple than a blue wave

Written by Tom Moran
Last updated
Images by Martin Falbisoner

There was a lot of hype in the run up to the midterms surrounding the Democrats’ chances.

The Democrats were challenging for the House, O’Rouke could have stolen Texas and there were challenges for major Governor positions. It looked like a blue wave was coming.

In reality, the results were rather mundane.

What we got instead was what you could cautiously call a ‘blue ripple.’ The Democrats took control of the House and won 7 Gubernatorial races, including Wisconsin’s, beating 2016 Republican Presidential hopeful Scott Walker.

In reality, the results were rather mundane

That said, the big upsets that were expected failed to materialise.

Beto O’Rourke didn’t produce the big win in Texas that was hoped for. Meanwhile, Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams will most likely not become the new Governors of Florida and Georgia, respectively. (At the time of writing, both races were too close to call as absentee votes were still to be counted, possibly producing a run off, though Gillum had conceded).

The Democrats even lost seats in the Senate, with North Dakota and Missouri falling to the Republicans to help make them to the magic 51 mark.

As the analysis of the results has come in though, there have been differing opinions on what we should take from it.

Some think it was a win for Trump, while others want to point out that actually the result for the Democrats was better than it might seem.

The results are absolutely normal

So, what can we actually take from all of this?

Well, the results are absolutely normal.

There is nothing special about the President losing the House in a Midterm election. It happened to Obama in 2010, to Bush in 2006, to Clinton in 1994, and even Eisenhower in 1954. Trump is a seemingly normal president (though maybe only in this regard).

At the state level, there was still Republican domination as well. They will still have a majority of Governorships and State Legislatures, even after all the results come in: a maintenance of the status quo.

The supposed black swan events in the run-up, that no one could have predicted, were, well, predictable. Mass shootings are sadly all too common and Trump’s threats of sanctions and border walls have been heard many a time.

This election was truly one for the Trump era

In reality, this election was truly one for the Trump era: riddled with hyperbole, yet business as usual.

Which is why the Democrats might feel so disheartened. It should not be business as usual. To have the most divisive President in history and a clear lead in the popular vote and still not win control of just about everything on offer could be disappointing. The Democrats lost seats in the Senate despite getting 46 million votes to the Republicans’ 33 million.

So, should they feel they lost? No. That’s just the way American democracy works. The senate is designed to represent the smaller states disproportionately, and the smaller states often vote Republican. Democrats just have to come to terms with this.

But, whilst there is little room for the Democrats to rejoice at these results, there is a lot of room for hope.

O’Rourke may have lost, but he awoke the Democratic beast. It’s no longer futile to hope for a blue Texas. The Lone Star State is back in play in 2020.

It’s important to have someone who stands for every last person

Whilst Abrams will probably still lose, she is exactly the sort of figure that is needed in Georgian politics. In a state riddled with voter suppression allegations, it’s important to have someone who stands for every last person getting the right to their voice.

In the wake of 2016, the Democrats seemed to lack any sense of leadership or figures for the future. 2018 has changed that. Hot prospects like O’Rourke and Ocasio-Cortez are showing through and incumbents like Kamala Harris are speaking out. Any of those names on a ticket are a lot more inspiring that Clinton-Kaine.

And then there is the ticking time bomb for the Republicans of demographic shifts. The longer Trump, McConnell and Ryan ignore the needs of young people, minorities and women, the further they condemn themselves in the future.

Whilst the Democrat vote might be held back by Gerrymandering and state lines, the sheer raw numbers will outweigh this at some point. Since the end of the Cold War, the Republicans have won one popular vote at a presidential election.

The chances are looking up for the Democrats. Maybe 2020 won’t be a big win either, but there is a blue Tsunami on the way. It is not a question of if, but when.