With the Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives winning at least 227 of the 435 seats, while the Republicans expand their control of the Senate with 51 seats out of 100, the cherished Check & Balances (Montesquieu’s séparation des pouvoirs) get reinforced. Democrats have now 23 governors -a gain of 7- with 3 still undecided (Arizona, Florida and Georgia). In many ways these elections have established records and historic firsts, showing that the country is changing. An estimated third of all Millennials voted contributing to the turnout of 113 million voters (the highest since 1966) including about 20 million of first time voters largely in favour of Democrats. Some of the states won by Trump in 2016 (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan) have turned into Democratic colour and Texas (where 40% of the population is Latino) may be the new battleground in 2020. The divergent outcomes in the House and Senate reveal an intensified split between rural communities and cities and suburbs. Democratic gains in the House came in densely populated, educated and diverse areas around the country, in major liberal cities like New York and Philadelphia and also in traditional republican populated centers like Houston and Oklahoma City. The Republican Party’s traditional base in these districts tumbled, with university-educated white –often women– voters joining with growing minority communities to reject President Trump and his party. Mr. Trump has heavily campaigned on the fear factor, claiming, particularly, that the country was about to be invaded by a caravan formed by criminals, terrorists, and infected people. In his press conference after the elections, President Trump has publicly mocked those Republicans who have declined his endorsement and lost their seats.
The Democrats have successfully identified new candidates who have run on people’s issues: health care, education, environment, and taxes. In many cases, these candidates are women who have run for a record of more than 110 congressional and gubernatorial races. In New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (as this blog previously reported) is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, and Ayanna Pressley is the first woman of color in Massachusetts’ congressional delegation. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota will became the first Muslim women in Congress. Sharice Davids beats a male Republican in Kansas and Deb Haaland won in New Mexico, becoming the first Native American women elected to Congress. In Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, a Republican, is the state’s first woman elected to the Senate. And in name of diversity, in Colorado, Jared Polis was elected to be the first openly gay male governor. 75 women and men veterans of the post 9/11 wars got elected. Max Rose, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart Army Officer, was elected to Congress as Democrat in the traditional republican New York’s 11th Congressional District. Mikie Sherrill, a Naval Academy graduate and helicopter pilot, former federal prosecutor, mother of four, is New Jersey’s newest Democratic Congresswoman. The country is changing but is also more deeply divided than before.