April 25, 2018
By Robert Kuttner | May 24, 2018
More Evidence of That Blue Wave. All the signs suggest that the wave is still building. In yesterday’s special election for an Arizona seat in in the U.S. House, the Republican candidate Debbie Lesko beat the Democrat, Hiral Tipirneni, by just six points, 53 to 47. This was in a staunchly Republican districtthat Trump carried by 21 points in 2016.
If the same 15-point swing to the Democrats were to occur this November, the Democrats would enjoy a House majority of between 20 and 40 seats.
What Trump disparages as the deep state, otherwise known as American democracy, seems to be holding. Republicans can gerrymander, they can use the entire arsenal of voter suppression tactics, but unless they literally cancel the election, those moves only give them an extra House 20 seats or so. In a true wave election, high Democratic turnout overcomes those obstacles.
This also looks to be a good year for the Democrats in state legislative and gubernatorial races, where large numbers of resistance candidates recruited by Indivisible and other grassroots groups are gaining momentum. The states are every bit as important as Congress.
It’s also the case that in a wave election, extreme gerrymandering can backfire. In a state like Ohio or North Carolina, where Republican legislatures took pains to spread out Republican voters into the maximum number of seats, they may have spread those voters too thin; and many seats presumed to be Republican in a normal election will flip in a wave election.
The large swing in races like the recent special elections in Arizona and Pennsylvania suggest that hard-core Trump voters are standing by their man, but a lot of swing voters are moving to the Democrats; and that the disgust with Trump rubs off on Republican candidates for Congress who are his apologists and enablers.
Maybe this isn’t a wave election. Maybe it’s more like a tsunami.