1. It is hard to exaggerate how significant the outcome of Tuesday’s election was. Among other things, the red wave turned into a red fizzle. Trump, though he wasn’t on the ballot, was the biggest loser. Right behind him were the election deniers. Democrats, while likely to narrowly lose the House, retained control of the Senate and registered gains at the state level, including in three critical states – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona. Unfortunately, not Georgia where Stacy Abrams lost.
Moreover, state referendums in four states protected the right to abortion. To this, we should add the popular mood shifted for the better, lifting people’s spirits and confidence that we can prevail over the MAGA movement.
2. The anti-MAGA, anti-Trump coalition – organized and spontaneous – reassembled, mobilized, and carried Democratic candidates over the top in race after race. How to extend and deepen this coaliton going forward is the overarching strategic challenge for left and progressive people in and around the Democratic Party. It isn’t to stiffen spines, gain hegemony, or strengthen the left pole.
3. The election results in Michigan were a thunderbolt, lighting up the sky for democracy, abortion rights, good governance, and decency, while emphatically striking down the MAGA movement. The outcome demonstrates that the decisive defeat of the Republican Party and MAGA movement on a national level, notwithstanding the political polarization and calcification of today’s electorate, is doable. Such a shift – and it can’t come to soon – is the only ground on which the structural problems and existential challenges that bedevil our country can be fully addressed.
If anything took a bit of the glow off Michigan’s triumph, it was the fact that Detroit will be without an African American representative for the first time since 1954.
4. Young people under 30 and African American voters can claim major creds for the election results. Motivated by climate change, student debt, gun violence, solidarity with transgender people, and, not least, anti racism, they turned out and voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. If this isn’t reason enough to plow resources into the hands of young political activists and rheir organizations, I don’t know what is.
5. The legislative achievements of the Biden administration proved to be a factor that gave Democrats a leg up campaigning. Nothing is quite so persuasive to voters as making a tangible difference in their lives. While President Biden may not poll well, the same can’t be said, it appears, about his legislative achievements. One has to wonder what might have been the outcome of the elections had the anti-MAGA coalition been less a spectator and more an active protagonist for the Build Back Better bill early on in its full throated form.
6. It is notable that the elections seemed for all practical purposes “normal,” nothing like 2020. They came and went without too much drama and little uproar. Candidates on both sides, save perhaps Kari Lake (how sweet was her defeat), accepted the verdict of voters. I don’t know if we as a country have turned the corner in this regard, but it was a welcome relief for much of the electorate.
7. Dobbs sure was an election issue. To paraphrase the Dead (and Buddy Holly), it refused to, thanks to millions of women, young and old, “Not Fade Away.” Indeed, it provoked the anger of Independent as well as Democratic women who ended up supporting Democrats once again.
8. Was anybody a bigger LOSER Tuesday night than Trump? He wasn’t on the ballot, but his annointed candidates were and most of them lost. Even some of his most loyal supporters and sycophants agree that he took a beating election night. Not good news for Donald. Check out the headline of none other than Murdoch’s New York Post, a right wing tabloid the day after the election.
9. If Democrats overperformed, save New York Democrats, guess who underperformed? What saved the GOP from a much bigger wipeout was gerrymandering. Had congressional districts been somewhat fairly drawn at the state level, the Democrats would have registered far better results.
10. What we are seeing – and the election results bear it out – is a reenergized and progressive trending Democratic Party at the grassroots and leadership levels as well as affiliated organizations. It’s uneven as these sort of things are and, obviously, requires further extension and consolidation, politically and organizationally. But it strikes me as undeniable. This development should be welcomed by the many strands of the anti-MAGA coalition, including the left.
11. The impressive victory of Florida governor Ron DeSantis presents a new threat to the progressive and democratic development of the country. At the same time, his win will put him in the crosshairs of the MAGA movement and Trump. We should expect to see a vicious intra party struggle between the two.
12. President Barack Obama, no surprise, turned out to be the best messager for Democrats and the larger democratic coalition. No one on the political stage is a better mass communicator. No one makes a better closing argument.