Election Day did not produce a Blue Wave, but it went well for Democrats. They picked up more House seats than in any midterm election since 1974; they held onto some Senate seats and Red States; and they picked up Senate seats in two purplish ones.
Democrats can also be encouraged by results in what recently has been the solidly Republican South. In Georgia, a leftist candidate, Stacey Abrams, appears to have lost by only 1.5 points — less than 60,000 votes. (Abrams continues to dispute the result, so stay tuned).
In Texas, Ted Cruz defeated Beto O’Rourke by only 2.5 points. Meanwhile, Democrats picked up two House seats.
Signs of Democratic progress in the South are particularly of note because that region will likely be the key battleground in the fight for control of the Senate in two years. The GOP’s capture of the Senate in 2014 was driven by pick-ups in Arkansas (Tom Cotton), Louisiana (Bill Cassidy), and North Carolina (Thom Tillis).
In 2020, in addition to these races, Republicans will be looking to hold David Perdue’s seat in Georgia and to retake Jeff Sessions’ old seat in Alabama. John Cornyn’s Texas seat will also be contested. So will Lamar Alexander’s Tennessee seat, but Republican Marsha Blackburn won comfortably in Tennessee last week.
I’m not suggesting that things look ominous in the South for the GOP in 2020. Cotton and Cornyn seem strong. Alabama will likely be a pick-up. Perdue should probably be favored to win in Georgia. (I’m not sure about Tillis in North Carolina).
And let’s not make more than we should of this year’s results. In Georgia, the Republican candidate for governor in Georgia didn’t seem particularly strong.
In Texas, O’Rourke benefited from a massive influx of cash, running what may have been the most expensive Senate campaign ever. Meanwhile, Republican governor Greg Abbott crushed his opponent and the GOP, though losing two seats, won 23 of 36 (however one apparent GOP win may still be in doubt).
It’s discouraging to see Democrats come close to winning statewide races in Georgia and Texas, and it may portend Democratic wins in the future. However, the GOP should make it through 2020 with little or no damage to its Southern position in the Senate.