In our write-up of Tuesday's election results, we missed one interesting one. The city of Colorado Springs, CO, is pretty red, consistent with the fact that it's home to the Air Force Academy. In fact, it's the reddest city in Colorado, and has had Republican mayors since 1979. Not anymore, though. The city just elected entrepreneur Yemi Mobolade, who is young, a registered independent, and the first Black person to lead Colorado Springs.
What this means is that, on the whole, the Republicans had a pretty bad day on Tuesday. They suffered two mayoral upsets (Colorado Springs and Jacksonville, FL) and also failed to win the seat (PA-SD-163) that would have given the party control of the Pennsylvania assembly. Indeed, the Republicans did not win a single significant, or semi-significant election on Tuesday, excepting a handful in which the GOP candidate was the overwhelming favorite (as in PA-SD-108).
Aaron Blake, who managed to land a job crunching numbers for The Washington Post despite not being named Nate took a look at the overall picture, and observes that the Democrats are very clearly on a winning streak right now. There's the midterms, of course, where a red wave turned into, at best, a red trickle, while the Democrats managed to actually expand the size of their contingent in the U.S. Senate. Then, in the highest-profile races of 2023, the blue team won a special election for a Virginia seat in the U.S. House of representatives in dominant fashion while also winning the Wisconsin state Supreme Court race convincingly. Downballot, there have been 18 state legislative elections this year, and the Democrats have outperformed their 2020 totals in those races by 6 points. And remember, 2020 was a good year for Team Donkey; if you want to compare to the much worse year of 2016, they've outperformed their totals by double digits.
As Blake points out, and as we would note if he didn't, the nature of American elections is such that you can never boil them down to a single issue. Nonetheless, the recurrent motif in these races is abortion. Candidates running on a pro-choice platform (even a moderate one) are winning, while those running on an anti-abortion platform are losing, often bigly. This won't hold in deep red states and districts, of course, but those are already in the bag for the Republicans. Everywhere else, as we and everyone else have been predicting for well over a year, the Dobbs decision could be an anchor around Republican necks.
And, of course, it's not just the Dobbs decision that's influencing voters, it's the legislation (and the court cases, see above) that Dobbs has enabled. We wrote about North Carolina's 12-week ban for yesterday's post; a few hours after it went live, the unicameral Nebraska legislature advanced a similar 12-week ban (that also has a bunch of anti-trans measures in it). Other non-ruby-red states that have jumped aboard the train include Missouri, Texas, Florida and Georgia. And even in some of the ruby-red states, there are congressional districts that are competitive and where abortion rights could be decisive. Louisiana is on that list, as are Utah, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky. And Republicans in the purple states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin are plotting ways to somehow get the issue before voters.
It is difficult to predict election results 17 months in advance (in case you're wondering, Election Day 2024 is 17 months, 19 days away). That said, the Dobbs decision leaked on May 2 of last year. And in our post the next day, we wrote:
[T]his introduces a massive wildcard into the 2022 midterms. And a massive wildcard is the Democrats' best hope for shifting the narrative away from inflation and Afghanistan and mask mandates, and very possibly stopping a red wave. If they don't spend the midterms hammering on the theme of "if you vote for Republicans, this is what you get," then the Democrats are guilty of political malpractice.
We now have one year of data that shows we were on to something. And it's not so outlandish to think that something could linger for another year, or two, or more. (Z)