The net results were not far from predictions. Conservatives are happy to have a slight improvement in the Senate, Democrats are happy to take the House. We have moved back to ‘productive gridlock’; harder to get things done, also harder to do stupid things. This election does offer a window into 2020, but it depends on Trump’s next move and the behavior of the new Democratic majority.
In 2016 I questioned whether the loss to Trump was a rejection of the Democrats or a rejection of Hillary. I thought she was a terrible candidate for a number of reasons. I am not certain that the results last night answered the question.
Stacey Abrams came far closer to beating Brian Kemp for Governor than I expected given Trump’s strong showing in the state in 2016. She clearly energized a base that will make Georgia a battle ground state for 2020. Georgia is clearly divided between the urban and rural voters; the bigger Atlanta gets, the more of a battleground state we become.
As of this morning Kemp had 50.4% to Abrams 48.7%. The total vote difference is 67,852. Abrams has not conceded. There are still uncounted absentee ballots and controversies over voter purging from the state office of the Secretary of State.
Over 40% of Abram’s campaign funds came from out of state; $7,117,266 vs $717,965 for Kemp. Their total campaign expenditures were about the same. George Soros was her top donor; 3 of 5 of her top individual donors had Soros as their last name. Her top identifiable industry groups were lawyers and lobbyists, education and trade unions.
T.V and movie production and distribution was a top group with $166,677 in donations to Abrams. Movie production is a growing industry in Georgia; more films are made here than any state outside of California. Kemp’s support of ‘religious freedom restoration’ is viewed as anti-gay and strongly opposed by the film industry.
Kemp’s largest donors came from Lawyers ($561,211 vs $804,078 for Abrams), Candidate Committees, and real estate. He also got strong support from the health professionals, hospitals and nursing homes. Kemp had 12,454 donors vs 47,316 for Abrams.
This data is available on www.Votesmart.org.
In Texas the percentages in the Beto O’Rourke/ Ted Cruz race looked very similar to the Georgia Governor’s race. Ted Cruz won with a very slim margin; 50.9% to 48.3%. The biggest difference was the expense. O’Rourke outspent Ted Cruz two to one. This was the most expensive Senate race in history. O’Rourke spent $59 million dollars and Cruz spent about $34 million. Money’s influence in a political campaign decays quickly beyond a critical point.
O’Rourke’s top contributors were the California tech sector; Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple. J Street and the University of California were also near the top of the list. Cruz’s top contributors were political PACs and traditional industries like Delta, Lockheed, Goldman Sachs, and Berkshire Hathaway.
Florida also had close races with Republican Ron DeSantis narrowly defeating Democrat Andrew Gillum for Governor, and Republican Rick Scott very narrowly defeating Democrat Bill Nelson. Both races may have a recount.
There is a trend here. The left’s visceral hatred of Trump clearly energized an opposition, and the left’s mob and behavior at the Kavanaugh hearing clearing energized the right. Every Democrat from a red state that opposed Kavanaugh lost. The Kavanaugh debacle and its aftermath was not predicted before the hearing. Much of what happens in an election depends on what energizes the base a few months prior to the voting.
Texas, Georgia, and Florida were Trump states that came very closing to losing critical elections to the Democrats. This was more than a referendum on Trump.
What these states have in common is the influx of people relocating from blue states. They are leaving high tax and anti-business states without leaving behind the high tax and anti-business mindset. These states are a victim of their own success.
We remain a divided nation. The Republicans would be wise to head this warning shot. If the Democrats has been a bit more centrist, they could have easily swept both houses of Congress. The Democrats bet heavily on turning three solid Trump states blue and came very close. In spite of falling short, the Democrats will be empowered. I do not look forward to 2020.
Trump is puzzling; his errant tone and behavior has energized his base and his opposition. I do not believe that he is racist or the next Hitler, but his thoughtless comments certainly gives fodder to those that require a demon to define themselves. The real question is how it impacts the independents. The uncivil mob behavior of the left concerns many of the independents more than the thoughtless comments of Trump.