Party of Trump tightens control of the Senate, the House becomes Democratic again, and progressives clench notable wins
As exit polls came flooding in late Tuesday night, many of them looked like overlays from the 2016 presidential election which saw Republican Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton and Republicans retain Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate. In this election’s exit polls, it was revealed that Donald Trump still holds sway over a large majority of white voters in the country. And with Trump having echoed at rallies for Republican nominees across the country that a vote for those Republican candidates was actually a vote for him, that appeal to his base proved enough to retain a majority in the U.S. Senate, but not the House.
In some notable races in the House of Representatives, more progressive candidates did well for themselves. Alexandra Ocasio-Ortiz (D-NY) won her race, which makes her the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, as did Deb Haaland (D-NM), making her the first Native American woman ever elected to Congress.
However, not all of the news on election night was positive for progressives. The Texas senate race between newcomer Beto O’Rourke and incumbent Ted Cruz ended in O’Rourke’s defeat, and Cruz was likely helped by a last minute visit to Harris County by President Donald Trump. The Florida governor race, which had the distinction of possibly being the most blatantly racist race in the country, ended with a narrow win for Trump surrogate Ron DeSantis over Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum, who had hoped to become to first Black governor of the state.
In Georgia, Stacey Abrams’ historic campaign to become the first Black woman governor in the history of the United States is still too close to call, with Brian Kemp maintaining a lead of 50.5% to Abrams’ 48.6%. Abrams has vowed not to concede the race, hoping absentee ballots might push Kemp under 50%, leading to a run-off later this year. Kemp had been under fire for most of the last two months as accusations of voter suppression continued to come up even well into the election night.
Georgia was far from the only place where the long shadow of voter suppression reared its ugly head. The National Hotline for Voter Complaints received over 20,000 calls from voters registering broken polling machines, foreclosed voting sites and other egregious violations that would not exist if this country was not hell-bent on suppressing votes.
Democrats are poised to control the House, which should be somewhat of a check on the power of the Republican party in national politics, although there is still plenty of bad Trump and his cadre of evil can do with at least two branches of the government firmly under his sway. The new conservative majority of the Supreme Court has many important upcoming cases on the docket, one of which includes deciding whether or not the 1866 boundaries of the Creek Nation within the formerly recognized Indian Territory of eastern Oklahoma should be recognized as an “Indian reservation” under U.S. law.
Ultimately, the results have further confirmed the extent to which white people vote with their whiteness, and with protecting their whiteness in mind. Until their power goes away, so does any real hope for the ballot box being a measure of a changing and improving country.