To see the national media react to the well-predicted Democratic wins in Democratic areas this past Tuesday was like watching a cancer patient hear she’s in remission.
This was the light they had been searching for since their diagnosis on Nov. 9, 2016.
Anyone with the thinnest knowledge about politics knew that Democrats would almost certainly win the governor races in New Jersey and Virginia and that they were likely to win the mayoral race in Charlotte, N.C.
Both of Virginia’s U.S. senators are Democrats and the state voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and for Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008. The same goes for New Jersey, and though the state has had a Republican governor for two terms, it’s the long-obsolete Chris Christie, whose approval this summer was as low as 15 percent.
Charlotte hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 2009. The last five have all been Democrats.
The media toasted to these victories the way a child might cheer after bowling a strike aided by gutter bumpers.
“Hope arrives in Virginia,” Andrew Sullivan (apparently not dead yet) wrote Friday in New York magazine.
“You probably felt the same thing I did last Tuesday night,” he said, “a euphoric whiplash as deepening dread turned suddenly into a wave of intense relief in the off-year results from Virginia. I’m still riding it. I hope you are too.”
Liberal New York Times columnist Charles Blow, America’s worst “writer,” said that the outcome of Democrats winning in safe Democratic places was definitive proof that the party shouldn’t shy away from identity politics.
"Tuesday night’s election results," he said, "were a major shot in the arm for the anti-Donald Trump resistance and a major slap in the face for all the Democrats who caterwauled last November about how the party had focused too much on courting women and minorities, and ignored angry white men."
A celebrity businessman with no governing experience upended the political landscape in large part by intuiting that Americans were desperate for a way out of the suffocating identity politics and politically-correct atmosphere foisted on them by Washington and the media.
But Democratic wins in liberal precincts is a bold sign for Blow that President Trump’s victory was a fluke and that we should all get back to the real business of force-feeding lessons in white privilege to the country’s unassuming working class.
Virginia is densely populated in the areas just outside of Washington, D.C., one of the most liberal cities in the U.S., and that plays a huge factor in any of its state-wide elections. Viewing any of those races as a reflection of what the country is doing at large is like watching a single segment of Chris Cillizza’s analysis on CNN and concluding that all political commentators must have whiny little voices.
And yet that’s how MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough saw it between segments where he and his fiancé and co-host Mika Brzezinski take turns squinting at different angles into the camera.
“I do believe that next year may be the year of 'women voters and women candidates,' because I heard stories of women standing in the rain in Northern Virginia in long lines, and they weren't going to move until they got their vote against Donald Trump," Scarborough said Wednesday.
Those same women did that exact same thing a year ago, and while Virginia did get a Democratic trans woman elected to a state-level legislative seat, that was the extent of the “women voters and women candidates” effect this time around.
Specifically as it relates to the gubernatorial race in Virginia, the Republican, Ed Gillespie, attempted the equivalent of rubbing your stomach and patting your head while hopping on one leg.
Gillespie, a Republican lobbyist, did not campaign with Trump and rarely mentioned his name, but tried to co-opt the themes that most animate the president: patriotism, immigration, and “law and order.”
Those are issues Trump owns with a ferocity and an appeal to them can’t be faked.
But Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank did his best to push the narrative that Gillespie’s loss was about Trump.
“Trump was on the ballot because Gillespie, in the general election, attempted to remake himself as a Trump clone,” he wrote “He played down conventional Republican talk about tax cuts in favor of a racially charged campaign right from the Trump playbook: support for Confederate monuments, fear of immigrants and outrageous calumny about [Democrat Ralph] Northam being a friend of pedophiles.”
Just two paragraphs later, Milbank pointed out that exit polls showed that half of voters said that Trump was a factor in how they cast their ballot. Explaining away the other half, Milbank said that “perhaps it was more that they wished Trump weren’t a factor in the race.”
Thanks, Dana, now I understand!
This is how the media will treat every election from here until Trump is out of office. No matter what the details, if a Democrat wins, it will be cast as a referendum on Trump.
Hey, does anybody remember Jon Ossoff?