Checks and Balances
We attained enough power to slow down the destructive GOP/Trump agenda at the national level, gained investigative powers as a check on executive power, flipped many state and local governments which will impact redistricting efforts in our favor, and moved long term Republican states from red to purple or blue.
A New Activism
A large and powerful grassroots movement was born in the months after November 2016. Progressive organizations now have solid infrastructures in place, extensive campaign experience, well developed organizing and campaigning tools, and hundreds of thousands of activists who saw that hard work pays off – all ready to go in 2020.
A Shifting Political Demographic
The country moved significantly to the left with the biggest impact in the House of Representatives. Hoping for a pickup of 23 House seats to regain control, the Democratic Party gained 39. Even in most races where a Republican won, they won by a narrower margin than in recent history. Blue states became bluer and some traditionally red states are now either blue or purple. Districts that flipped from Republican to Democrat shifted an AVERAGE of 21 points and the average district shifted 10 points to the left, regardless of whether they were red or blue.
State Power Shifts
The Republicans have state power grossly disproportionate to the number of Republican voters, but we made huge gains, flipping seven governorships (narrowing the governor gap from double digits to 3), six state legislative chambers, and more than 300 state House and Senate seats. Democrats have total control in 13 states now, compared to the 21 in GOP hands.
The Senate was out of reach in 2018 but 2020 is another story when the Senate map is much more favorable to Democrats. Republicans are defending 22 seats and the Democrats just 12.
A Legislative Plan
The House will pass major legislation in areas that people are passionate about, such as health care, campaign finance, gun control, and immigration. The Democrats have already announced their first bill, which will focus on campaign finance reform, ethics, and anti-corruption measures that encompass presidential tax returns and the Supreme Court. These measures will not pass the Senate or get signed into law but will be powerful tools in 2020 campaigns. People want solutions and Democrats will have them.
The 2018 midterms launched much needed progressive voices into our national politics, such as Beto O’Rourke and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Women, Muslim, gay, transgender, socialist, people of color, and young candidates are now in office and have a lot to say.
All major statewide offices are now in Democratic hands, as well as a super majority in both houses of the state legislature. The California Republican Party now ranks 3rd in size behind Democrats and Independents and is seen by some as essentially powerless.
Gavin Newsom will be the first Democratic California governor to succeed another Democrat since the 19th century and will lead a coordinated anti-Trump California agenda.
Democrats now hold 46 of California’s 53 House seats (including a complete flip in all former Republican stronghold Orange County districts). California representatives hold powerful positions including Nancy Pelosi as the probable Speaker and Adam Schiff as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which oversees the Congressional Russia investigation.
Marin’s Congressional Representative, Jared Huffman, will hold one of Congress’s most powerful environmental positions, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans.
82.4% of Marin voters voted in the 2018 midterms, a record midterm turnout. However, 13% of those voters did not vote in the District Attorney race. Progressive candidate Anna Pletcher, who was endorsed by both the Marin Democratic Party and Indivisible Marin, lost by less than 400 votes (out of over 132,000 cast).
A Presidential Election – need we say more.....
What we learned
Candidates matter. They represented groups that didn’t have a voice in our politics and often didn’t vote. They were passionate about change and helping improve the lives of their constituents. They were great speakers. They ran smart campaigns. They inspired people to vote.
Local is best. Successful candidates knew their districts and what the needs were. They understood the issues that mattered most to their voters and had answers to problems. They didn’t follow a national platform.
Grassroots activism works. Races that flipped and many of those that almost did, were very close. Accurate targeting of those winnable districts directed financial and volunteer resources to where they could make the most impact. Thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours made a difference.
What We Need To Do Now
Develop strategies to support progressive candidates in future local elections so that people feel as informed voting in those races as they do in high profile ones.
Hold our newly elected representatives accountable - pay close attention to what bills the state and federal legislatures develop, how our reps vote, and what bills they are personally working on. Give them feedback.
Work with Representative Huffman to improve our environmental policies as well as policies on other key progressive issues such as voting rights, economic justice, immigration and gun reform.
Evaluate existing activist structures and tools, improve them, grow our organizations, and mobilize for 2020.