The 2018 midterm results revealed that the deep polarization tearing at the nation has only deepened since President Trump’s 2016 victory. But Democrats’ biggest statewide wins came in exactly the places that put him over the top and handed him the White House.
Democrats won both the governors’ races and the Senate contests in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Those three states made up the so-called “blue wall” that crumbled so dramatically to make Trump president. But it looks at least for now like those walls are starting to get rebuilt.
Trump won those states by a combined 80,000 votes in 2016. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Michigan Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Wisconsin Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D) win margins combined came to just under 1 million combined votes on Tuesday, while Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) won their races by roughly 1.1 million combined votes.
That’s a bright spot in a year when House Democrats won a lot of tough races and seized control, but Democrats running for Senate and governor fell short in a number of other swing states with big 2020 implications.
Midterm elections don’t always translate to presidential results. Republicans won all three of these governorships and picked up Senate seats in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2010, right before President Obama easily carried all three states in 2012.
Other Obama-Trump states had more mixed results. Democrats lost a close race for Iowa governor but picked up a pair of swing House seats there. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Gov.-elect Mike DeWine (R) ended up winning by similar margins, a slight disappointment for Democrats who thought Brown would cruise and DeWine might lose. Florida was the real heartbreaker, with both Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum apparently falling short.
But the 2020 election will undoubtedly be just as polarized as the last two, with surging turnout in both sides. If Democrats had to pick three states to come back to the fold in order to kick Trump out of the White House, the three where Democrats had the strongest performances last night would be the ones to choose.