Tuesday's GOP Bloodbath

There are two popular internet takes on last night’s utter destruction in Virginia in particular, and the other states more generally. Naturally.

One is that this proves the GOP will be eliminated in the midterms, and maybe it’s time to impeach President Trump.  The other is that Virginia is a blue state and was a blue state and remains a blue state so big deal let’s talk about something else who cares ha ha ha ha it’s fine.


The internet is not a subtle place. Nor is cable news, where these are also dominant. On MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell waxed poetic (“remember where you were”) while on Fox News, Hannity decided not to even talk about it, other than to mention dismissively that the states where the GOP lost yesterday weren’t Trump states anyway.

Oh, and there’s President Trump himself, who simply blamed Ed Gillespie’s loss on his not Trumping it up.

You shouldn’t let the hot takes steer you wrong, though. There was a bloodbath in Virginia, and it does matter.  But don’t go dusting off your lucky impeachment hat just yet.

In Virginia, Northam beat not just Gillespie but even the polling that was in his favor. He topped his projected margin by five points. Gillespie lost by a wider margin than Trump lost the state last year. It was a big loss. The offices of lieutenant governor and attorney general were also won by Democrats. But that isn’t the whole story.

The VA House of Delegates began Tuesday with a 66 to 34 Republican majority. After the election, the ratio stands at 48 Democrats to 47 Republicans, with some not yet called.

This means the Democrats flipped 14 seats, a truly devastating loss.

Despite the protestations of Sean Hannity and other full-bore cultists, this does bode ill for 2018 midterms, and the GOP better wise up and pay attention. While imperfect, this is a lead indicator on more than one front.

Democratic voters could not be more wildly motivated. I would offer a metaphor but there isn’t one. There’s no degree of motivation, it’s simply total. … Okay fine. Their base is more energized than the Enterprise transporter pad. They are more fired up than a kiln at the international pottery olympics. I’m saying, they are ready to go.


Republicans, on the other hand, have had a disappointing year. We’re talking about normal voters, including Trump voters, but not about the devoted zombie army. The zombie army isn’t big enough or loud enough to offset the failures we saw with everything from Obamacare to immigration, to the fact that there is no wall. Not to mention the never-ending onslaught against Republicans in every form of media.

That onslaught has an even more pronounced effect on moderates, who already find Trump and his ways repellent. A smart Democrat candidate can take big advantage here. Middle of the road, not too objectionable, doesn’t talk s*** on Twitter about ratings or grabbing people by the … well you get it.

On the other hand, Democrats shouldn’t take this as a sign from God. As popular Twitter analyst and co-host of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Friends podcast, Jeff B. said on Twitter, “the one thing that could snatch away Nancy Pelosi’s upcoming majority and boost GOP? Trying to impeach Trump. Rid yourself of this folly, Dems.”

That’s about all the advice I’m willing to offer them. Let them find their own way on the rest. They aren’t my party. And besides, they’ve got their own problems.

As for the GOP, there is something you can do. What you can do is do something. Victories are what motivate voters and especially Republican voters. There was a sense among millions in the GOP base that, when the historic Trump landslide happened, their day had finally come. Their ideas would become policy. Their issues would take the forefront. Republican ideas would become American laws, the American way.


They wanted big change. No, scratch that. BIG CHANGE. In all caps. That’s what the voters expected. And here, a year later, they are not much closer to getting it. A few small victories, a few executive orders, and not much else. Hardly historic.

If you want to learn something here, forget learning anything about Donald Trump. You, Republican lawmakers, cannot change him. Instead learn something about yourselves. The voters want a win. If you don’t give them one, come 2018, they won’t give you one.


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