Democrats Won. So Why Are They Crying ‘No Fair’?
In regular times, what happened last night would put a bounce in the step of members of both parties.
There was something for everyone. Neither party had a giant night but neither party took a shellacking either.
It should have been a moment of happiness for both sides. But we’re not in regular times.
The Democrats took the House of Representatives while the Republicans made gains in the U.S Senate and won a number of unexpected seats.
It gave Republicans the opportunity to bask in the surprise victories of Ron DeSantis for governor of Florida and Rick Scott for U.S Senate. Meanwhile, Democrats needed 23 seats to take the House and are currently estimated to gain 36 to seats.
They additionally picked up seven new governorships, including knocking off longtime foe Scott Walker in Wisconsin, a state that was central to Donald Trump’s election win in 2016.
The Democrats even came close enough to knocking off Ted Cruz in Texas, with their liberal hero Beto O’Rourke, but Republicans could take pleasure in the fact that they ultimately didn’t.
It wasn’t the tsunami that Democrats hoped for, but it should have brought some measure of satisfaction in the process. It didn’t.
Instead, CNN’s Van Jones said, on the air, that his heart was breaking. Writer Mona Eltahawy raged that white women, who had voted for candidates she does not like, were “foot soldiers of the patriarchy.”
Republicans might also have been disappointed at losing the House but not overly so.
As writer Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out on Twitter, “Since 1968, no period of unified government control has lasted longer than 4 years.” Expecting to keep all three branches of government for any meaningful length of time is foolhardy.
Since 1968, no period of unified government control has lasted longer than 4 years.
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) November 7, 2018
And Republicans did seem to be processing the loss in a healthy manner. Even Donald Trump took to Twitter to say that Nancy Pelosi should be Speaker of the House and that he would push Republicans to vote for her if she didn’t have enough Democratic support. “She has earned this great honor,” Trump tweeted.
In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats. If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
The main thing was that this election was normal and it had been a while since something this normal had happened.
Yet the Democrats, stuck in some “it’s not fair!” loop left over from the 2016 election, felt cheated by the GOP wins in the Senate.
A few days before the election, Vox’s Ezra Klein had tweeted his concern of the “crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority.”
I don’t think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority.
After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) November 5, 2018
That didn’t happen, so instead, the line of the night, pushed by people who really should know better, centered around the “Senate popular vote.”
Amanda Marcotte, a politics writer for Salon.com, tweeted, “Republicans lost the popular vote in Senate races by over 15 percentage points, but still gained two seats. Our country is not a democracy.”
Republicans lost the popular vote in Senate races by over 15 percentage points, but still gained two seats. https://t.co/TFVdDGIiat
Our country is not a democracy.
— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) November 7, 2018
It was the liberal talking point of the day. Mark Copelovitch, Professor of Political Science & Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin, highlighted the same point.
Senate popular vote:
Democrats: 40,558,262 (55.4%)
Republicans: 31,490,026 votes (43.0%)
Senate seats: Republicans +3
— Mark Copelovitch (@mcopelov) November 7, 2018
These are not laypeople, looking up at the screen every few years to find out who won the election.
These are dedicated political professionals pushing a nonsensical, irrelevant trope that this year also happened to be mathematically incorrect.
The “it’s not fair!” brigade didn’t seem to notice that there were 35 U.S. Senate races and the Democrats won at least 21 of them.
Or that in the California U.S. Senate race, a Democrat ran against a Democrat.
U.S Senate candidates in places like New York had only nominal opposition, yet the intensity to vote was so high on the left that people came out in droves anyway.
In my home neighborhood of Park Slope, long lines at polling places were standard despite the fact that for at least three races, including for U.S House representative seat, the Republicans hadn’t fielded a candidate at all.
GOTV in my neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn is intense, reminders to vote incessant. Every Dem running here going to win by 20+ points and many offices have no Republicans running at all. pic.twitter.com/CLXX40tAUr
— Karol Markowicz (@karol) November 3, 2018
In New York, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand won her race by over 30 points.
Finally, not all states have races for the U.S. Senate on the same year, so it’s extra ludicrous to add up the total as if they do.
The real problem for Democrats is that no matter how well the night went, Donald Trump was still president. Democrats are banging their heads against the wall to fight President Trump, a man who needed to have Hillary Clinton at his wedding and who openly admires Nancy Pelosi, instead of figuring out a way to work with him.
There’s no leadership to talk them off the ledge that they are needlessly on because keeping the intensity against Trump high is good for Democratic fundraising.
Democrats had a good night, and in any other time, they would know that.
That expectations were so unreasonable and that the “no fair!” line is given so much credence today doesn’t speak well for the state of the party.
President Trump is not forever.
Our institutions and systems should be.
That Democrats are ready to alter them to affect their results is troubling.
They need grown-ups in the party to say so.
Karol Markowicz is a writer living in Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter: @karol.