What happened to high profile Democrat races in the US mid term elections?
The midterm elections 2018 certainly saw a “blue wave” in terms of Democrats taking back the House, but many of the high profile democrat races resulted in defeat.
Many Democrat candidates attempted to fuel their campaign by showing a willingness to cooperate with Trump, and in some cases full support of the President. But a liberal approach to Trump’s conservative rule proved largely ineffective.
So what happened to high profile Democrat races in the US midterm elections 2018?
Florida Governor Race: Andrew Gillum vs Ron DeSantis
Florida’s governor’s race is seen by many as one of the most important races of the midterms 2018. Florida is usually the most unpredictable swing state, even Trump only won the state by 1 point in 2016, so it was fair game for Democratic Gillum and Republican DeSantis during the midterms.
Gillum was the first black candidate for governor that Florida had ever seen, and as such he had a lot of support from progressive democrats (including Bernie Sanders). However, he also received multiple racist robocalls, and with an FBI investigation into corruptionÃ‚Â in Tallahassee (where he was Mayor) hanging over his head, Gillum has also faced a lot of opposition.
The FBI investigation hasn’t publicly implicated Gillum, but it does involve institutions and individuals close to Gillum, and some of Gillum’s stories about the investigation haven’t quite added up.
Whilst it was expected that Gillum would win the race, it couldn’t have been closer, and DeSantis initially led the lead by 72000. But the race didn’t stop there. Voting irregularities, and the fact that the results were so close fuelled a tense recount, which saw the gap between the two narrowed. However, the recount still showed DeSantis in the lead, by 34,000, and so Gillum conceded to DeSantis.
So whether because of the corruption scandal, irregularities in voting (which both DeSantis and Gillum pointed out), or because Florida just isn’t ready for a black governor, Gillum lost the race despite expectations.
However, it’s an important step forwards for Florida, having a progressive black candidate come within an inch of winning.
Florida Senate Race: Bill Nelson vs Rick Scott
Florida’s Senate race was almost as close as the governor race and has undergone the same discrepancies. Democratic Bill Nelson was initially 13,000 votes behindRick Scott, but with the Senate race affected by the same voting irregularities, there was a machine recount.
The machine recount results came in and showed Scott still in the lead by over 12,000 votes. But with the difference between them being less than .25%, a manual recount was called for (by State Law).
Nelson conceded to Scott just after all the results from the manual recount were in, as Scott still had over 10,000 votes more.
Missouri Senate Race: Claire McCaskill vs Josh Hawley
The Missouri Senate race was again one of the closest races in the country, but in the end, Claire McCaskill was defeated by Republican Josh Hawley, the State’s Attorney General.
McCaskill had a lot of female support, and put up a good fight against Hawley, but whilst she might have been more supportive of Trump than her fellow Democrats, McCaskill was perhaps too liberal for Missouri.
In particular, she voted against President Trump’s nomination of Justice Kavanaugh to the supreme court, While, she was in line with almost all Democrats with the exception of Senator Manchin, conservative voters in Missouri were not impressed. Ever since this vote, Josh Hawley started leading in the races and carried it to the end.
Hawley based a lot of his aggressive campaign on dismissing McCaskill as too liberal, and on his support from the President. Missouri has had a lot of support for Trump since his election, so Trump’s continuous support of Hawley’s campaign likely fuelled his popularity.
So whilst McCaskill was a strong candidate, just inches away from being re-elected as state Senator, her liberal standpoints weren’t strong enough to win over the majority.
North Dakota Senate Race: Heidi Heitkamp vs Kevin Cramer
Another closely-watched race in the 2018 midterms, the North Dakota Senate race saw Heidi Heitkamp defeated by Republican Kevin Cramer.
Heitkamp knew she had to appeal to the many Trump supporters in the state, and made a point of promising to work with the President, rather than against him as long as he was right and not hurting the state.
However, when she voted against Trump’s Supreme Court nomination, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, because of a recent sexual assault allegation (which he denied) she seemed to lose a lot of support.
Cramer, on the other hand, took the lead by showing himself as a loyal Trump supporter, willing to commit to controversial actions that would benefit the state. He has supported trade wars against China and the European Union, and so for many, his support is surprising considering many Cramer voters were farmers and those who might suffer during trade wars.
Both Missouri and the North Dakota Senate race have proved that support for Trump is still strong in these states, and Senators have been chosen based on their Presidential support.
Texas Senate Race: Beto O’ Rourke vs Ted Cruz
The Texas Senate race between Beto O’ Rourke and Ted Cruz was the closest race Texas has seen in 40 years, and the closest Texas has come to having a Democrat Senator since 1994.
Beto O’Rourke was basically unheard of outside of his home district, yet he gave Cruz, who almost won the Republican Presidential nomination two years ago, a run for his money.
O’Rourke is a progressive anti-Trump candidate with a lot of charisma and great rhetorical speeches that evoked a lot of emotion in voters all over the state, but what he lacked was the ability to persuade Texans that his ideology would have bettered the state.
Cruz, on the other hand, fought for values that most Texans already held close to heart: jobs, security, and freedom. Cruz didn’t propose different ideas to the State, but he promised improvements, and with his name already recognized across the country, Cruz already had the trust of right-wing voters.
Whilst Cruz’s victory proved that many Texans have a lot of trust in Trump and those that work closely with him, there’s also been a shift of attitude, and there’s more political contrast in Texas now than there has been for several decades.
The race was close, and Democrats have hope for the next Texas Senate race. People have even begun asking O’Rourke if he plans on running for president in 2020.
2018’s high profile democrat races had Americans and the rest of the world watching intently. With so many close calls, it’s evident that attitudes are split across the country and within states.
Many viewed this year’s midterms as the first chance since 2016 to express support for or against Trump. But with pro-Trump Republicans winning many state senate races, there’s no denying that many, and perhaps the majority, are looking to politicians who can help deliver Trump’s promises to their home state.