While the headlines from Tuesday night were largely gobbled up by the Kentucky gubernatorial upset and Democrats’ clinching of the General Assembly in Virginia, a blue tsunami also splashed across the Philadelphia suburbs in a telling trend.
The erosion of Republican dominance in places like Delaware County was stark. There, Democrats swept the county council, spurred on by a historic gain of two seats in 2017. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer, this is the first time Democrats have won all the seats on the council since before the Civil War.
The county Republican wipeout didn’t end there: all four GOP candidates for Common Pleas Court judgeships went down, as did the incumbent Republican district attorney.
Over in Bucks County, Democrats seem to have eked out two of three county commissioner board seats, taking control for the first time in decades.
And in Philadelphia proper, Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks became the first person from outside either major party to win a city council seat in over a century. She won one of the two at-large seats, a ding to Republicans who have held those two spots for 70 years.
Local Democratic triumphs like these may dim in the face of the flashy gubernatorial upset in Kentucky, but these races are likely the most important result from Tuesday’s election.
Per the Inquirer, turnout in Delaware County was up a whopping 25 percent from 2017, the year when complacent Democrats roused themselves to finally wrench two county council seats away from Republicans, a record victory in and of itself.
Tuesday night was a massive repudiation of decades of Republican control of these suburbs, and it was fueled by organization and mobilization of Democrats more motivated by their opposition to President Trump and his party than they ever have been before.
This trend was on clear display in the 2018 midterms, with a shellacking that won federal-level Democrats the House of Representatives for the first time since 2011. That win was largely attributed to distaste of Trump so permeating the suburban sprawl that liberals there got active, bucking the common knowledge that Democrats never show up in off-presidential election years.
In Pennsylvania that year, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) cruised to reelection and Democrats flipped four House seats to Republicans’ one.
In 2016, Trump won Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes by just 44,292 ballots, a minuscule .72 percent win over Hillary Clinton. If Keystone State Democrats maintain their energy and mobility, which the past three years suggest they will, he will likely have to carve out a very different path to reelection.