As the final election results come in, former Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was in high spirits at the solid wins for his party. He said: “We were all under a lot of pressure saying we need to win this thing, we need a boost. But we gave a rocket boost tonight.” He said that Northam’s victory “is a rejection of Trump, of the hatred and bigoted fear that they always bring into these campaigns.”
But is he right? Or is he falling into the trap of assuming that one victory in a series of losses is a significant turnaround? Most major news outlets are promoting the DNC victories as a rejection of the Trump agenda without fully admitting that for this to be true, all the other elections lost so far this last year must be a rejection of the DNC.
It also bears noting that the Republicans that lost in Virginia were not “Pro-Trump” Republicans. They neither embraced the Trump agenda nor did they distance themselves from the President. Choosing to walk the moderate tightrope in between proved to be a losing strategy.
Perhaps one of the most stunned reactions came from Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn), whose statements show that he cannot quite see the mote in his own party’s collective eye:
“I certainly didn’t see this ass-kicking coming; this is pretty stunning. Republicans have two problems: their president and their agenda. And I don’t think either of those liabilities are disappearing anytime soon.”
A failure to notice that the Democrats have lost almost every major election in the last five years does not seem to trouble him much. He is quick to point out that the Republican (Trump) agenda has been rejected in this last spate of voting, but does not recognize the same of his own party in every other election since 2016.
A politician who seems to understand the problem a little better than most is Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ). Although he clearly realizes that divisive anti-Trump politics are having a negative impact and do little for actual working Americans in terms of making their lives better, he still sees yesterday’s election results as an upswing for the Democrats:
“Americans — not just Democrats — are getting fed up with a mean-spirited, divisive, denigrating kind of politics — one that isn’t focused on a prosperity agenda but is actually, even more so, doubling down on the politics of the elite, the wealthiest in our country. This has been a very dark year. But the North Star is rising.”
Words of warning were issued by Chris Christie’s former “top gun” Mike Duhaime:
“It should serve as a wake-up call for any Republicans who are pretending there’s not a political problem going into next year. Republicans in Virginia and New Jersey worked hard and knew the challenges, but voters were sending a message.”
Perhaps he’s right. It could be time for all party officials and representatives to understand that they have to work hard for each vote and the trust of the electorate.
Mark is a political writer and journalist who has worked on campaigns for Brexit.