Democrats Start Winning

The Biggest Win In Virginia Where Democrat Absolutely Thrashes Republican Challenger For Governor In What Was Supposed To Be A Very Close Race: “This Is Just An Old-Fashioned Thumping”

Democrat Ralph Northam runs away in the race for Virginia Governor, thrashing Republican Ed Gillespie by 9 points. “This is just an old-fashioned thumping” said a former GOP Republican Representative.

Virginia Governor-elect Ralph Northam (D)

As we’ve said for months, Democrats won’t start winning until they start winning: some of the close races we’ve seen up until now that Democrats lost by a hair simply didn’t count. But now there seems to be some momentum building. Not to still be a downer, but not much in the federal government was up for grabs, (Jason Chaffetz’ seat in the House after he quit, and that was won by a Republican), but even without direct influence, the blow-back should hit Capitol Hill hard.

In New Jersey, the Democratic candidate for Governor also won, although that was more expected.

And if you look around to local races and ballot initiatives, there’s a lot for Democrats to like:

Newly-elected Danica Roem (D) Virginia
  • In Maine, a ballot measure to expand Medicaid under Obamacare passed, a strong rebuke to the State’s Republican Governor who has repeatedly vetoed legislative measures that would’ve done the same thing. According to Vox, could mean new coverage for nearly 90,000 Maine residents. That could pave the way for other states to pursue expanded health care through ballot initiatives.
  • Here’s the Washington Post’s look at Election Day winners and losers overall.

While Democratic Candidates Are Thriving, Party Isn’t

Interestingly while all these positive results roll in, the view of the Democratic Party in this country ain’t that great. According to CNN, public opinion of the Democratic party is at its lowest level in 25 years. Meaning more than ever: people are examining individual candidates vs. voting along party lines. This has also been evident in fundraising, where the party’s having trouble (just fired their lead fundraiser), but at the same time candidates are raking in hefty sums.

We think in a way this is a good thing (and Trump actually probably gets some credit), and is an inevitability: with more information around, it’s easier to access candidates and find out what they stand for, vs. voting the party line as our parents might’ve done.

Trump Won’t Own It, Any Of It

After enthusiastically Tweeting about Ed Gillespie in recent days, as it looked like polls were narrowing and he had a real shot to win, Trump damned him in a post-election Tweet, saying “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for.” This is the 2nd time Trump’s backed a big loser, after his endorsement of Luther Strange in the Senate primary in Alabama, and this stuff really gets under his skin because as we know he’s got to “always, always, always win”.

Trump’s “Surprise” Visit To DMZ Becomes A “Surprise” Non-Visit

Trump is now in China, after finishing a 2-day visit to South Korea earlier today. As we mentioned, the “real” reason for Trump’s visit to South Korea was mostly just to show  he’s not afraid to get within a few dozen miles of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader Trump calls “Little Rocket Man”.

And today, if you believe the White House, he intended to set foot in the DMZ: a buffer zone between South and North Korea that’s patrolled by soldiers from both countries, since the Korean War has never been officially declared over. However “bad weather” prevented Marine One from landing Trump in the area. White House Press Secretary Sanders said Trump was “pretty frustrated”.

One Year Ago Today Was Election Day, 2016

Trump relives this day in speech and in act every single day. So we hope you will indulge one recollection from someone other than Trump, on this inauspicious anniversary.

One of The Chaos Report’s friends writes:

November 8, 2016.

I find myself in Reading, Pennsylvania. Somewhat unexpectedly. I’m here because I’m pretty sure Trump is going to win. (Even though all my far better politically connected friends are telling me Hillary is a lock, if not a landslide). To me, it’s as simple as looking at a map. And listening to people in diners, bars, truck stops. (Don’t believe me? Look at some of my pre-election, pre-“The Chaos Report” blog posts, for instance this one.)

And I’m thinking a Trump Presidency would be so unbelievably dangerous, I should do whatever I can to stop it. So I head down to Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters in New York to volunteer. (Even though they had completely rebuffed me way earlier in the year when I offered them my services for free as an editor and video producer and former media staffer on other campaigns. But that’s a story for another day.)

The campaign office is crowded: chock full. Too many volunteers, waiting in long lines just to get assignments. Finally I’m taken to a room upstairs where I swear my group of volunteers is given phone lists for Spanish-speaking voters in Florida, even though we do not speak Spanish. “Just in case” someone who speaks English picks up the phone. We receive little instruction (but there really isn’t much to it). Just one repeated exhortation: “be polite, be polite, be polite.”

I do the shift even though it feels completely useless, then go home and look up and contact the campaign coordinator in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Kind of randomly: just because I know Pennsylvania is a swing state. To my surprise, I get an e-mail back from her almost immediately: “Do you have a car”? I do. “We have busloads of students here from Columbia University out canvassing and no one to drive them from place to place.” “I’m on it”, I said.

So I hop in my car and head down. There are ominous signs along the way: hundreds of neat “Trump/Pence” signs on the median of the major state highway, placed with almost militaristic precision. For miles. With just a few scraggly Hillary signs. I know elections aren’t won by sheer amount of signage. At the same time I am pretty sure anyone who’s responsible for taking the time (and personal risk) to put all those Trump/Pence signs out will 100% for sure be voting for Trump. Not so sure about the Hillary folks.

Even just outside the lovely but half-abandoned bank building that houses Hillary’s Reading HQ, there are far more Trump than Hillary signs.

However, as soon as I walk into the Reading campaign office, it’s a breath of fresh air. A completely different atmosphere than New York. Instead of painfully earnest staffers nervously flitting about making sure no one is uncool or uncouth, I hear a voice from the phone bank room: “What do you mean you’re not voting? Are you CRAZY?” And I think “Yes. I’m finally in the right place.”

The view from Clinton campaign Reading, PA HQ

I spend a lot of time on the phone bank that day, and still today remain in contact with the wonderful woman who ran that operation. Had Hillary won, she would’ve been as responsible as any other single person in the campaign for the victory, all the way up to the top. When she encounters a caller who doesn’t speak English her technique is a little different: “You don’t speak English? Just vote for the WOMAN. You understand THAT?”

The time spent on the phone bank gives me a lot of insight into the stupidity of phone banks, and the eventual outcome: even though it’s supposed to be a way of getting people out to vote, most people had been contacted multiple times before, and were civil at best, but mostly a little irritated. I was surprised at how many people actually still pick up their phones, because I never answer mine unless I recognize who’s calling (and we’ve been told not to leave messages).

Many of the people I speak to are enthusiastic: about the prospect of the first woman President, about extending the Obama legacy. Others say they feel like they’re being told they “have to” vote for Hillary, and resent that. Or they see no difference between the two candidates: both big liars. Or even that it’s time for a “shake-up” and while they could never bring themselves to vote for Trump, they’re not going to endorse the status quo by voting for Hillary either.

I do get out to drive some students around too. And at one point we encounter a woman walking up to her house who is leaning toward Hillary, but wasn’t enthusiastic about voting. I give her a ride over to the the polling station. So I can say I, and this one student canvasser were responsible for at least one vote.

Hillary did win Reading. But not much of the surrounding area. And as we all know, not Pennsylvania, and not the Presidency.

As soon as the polls closed I started the 2 1/2 hour drive back to New York. I stopped for dinner at a local restaurant, but made them promise to leave the hockey game on the TV over the bar, and not switch over to political coverage. Once on the road, I did not turn on the radio, and I texted my politically minded friends to tell them not to text me: no play-by-play. I was still hopeful, but definitely didn’t want any news while I was still driving, especially if it was bad.

One of my friends blew it: texting me “Wow! Wolf Blitzer’s voice just went up 3 octaves!” I texted back “Thanks. I told you not to text me!!!” “No, I just mean he’s excited that it’s Election night” he replied. “Nice try…” It was then I know it was all over. By the time I walked back in the door to my apartment, it was. Officially.

It’s OK. I made a new friend. And we can still do good in and for America.

Some Other Election Day 2016 Recollections, From Prominent People…

Esquire put together this nice collection of brief remembrances from many campaign figures on all sides.

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