Although not quite the stinging rebuke that Democrats and Never-Trump Republicans were hoping for, the midterm elections show that President Trump’s strategy of maximum polarization has reached the point of diminishing political returns.
Trump predictably claimed victory, but in the real world Democrats won the popular vote again, by more than seven percentage points, captured the House of Representatives and added seven more governors, including one in the GOP bastion of Kansas. What’s more, the party generally prevailed not by swerving left, but by appealing to moderate and even conservative suburbanites, especially across the Midwest, who are repelled by Trump’s dark mastery of tribal politics.
These gains in the pragmatic center bode well for Democrats’ 2020 prospects. Midterm elections are rarely reliable predictors of what will happen in the next presidential election. But by revealing rising antipathy to Trump among college-educated white women and men, and confirming the wisdom of Democrats’ “big tent” strategy, the outcome shows the party the way to evict Trump from the White House.
As they contemplate next steps, here are four key conclusions about the 2018 midterm Democrats should keep in mind.