BY STEPHEN ATKINSON
Heading into 2018 midterms, Democrats had one primary goal: win the House. And, as polls, pundits, and Nancy Pelosi had predicted, they did. According to current vote totals, Democrats have a 223-200 advantage over Republicans in the House, and when more results are released in the coming days, it’s likely this number will settle around 229-206, which is slightly better for the Democrats than many expected.
The Senate races, however, told a different story. Republicans performed better than expected, winning by close margins in Florida, Texas, and Indiana—all states Democrats had hoped to win. Most likely, Republicans will have an expanded 53-47 majority (the current count is 51-46) in the new Senate. So while Democrats hoped for a “blue wave” this election, most pundits agree that it did not happen; voter turnout was high, but high across both parties.
How did the two parties react to news of the results? President Trump enumerated his party’s successes in a post-election news conference, and Nancy Pelosi expressed hopes of passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill in the new Congress, one that would certainly require compromise with Senate Republicans but could unite the two parties around a common issue.
In North Carolina, Democrats broke the Republican supermajority in the NC House, making ground in suburban areas, where candidates like Julie Von Haefen and Sydney Batch secured victories in historically Republican districts. Republicans still hold majorities in both state houses, but they will no longer be able to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto power.
Six amendments to the state constitution proposed by Republican legislators were also on the North Carolina ballot. A coalition of left-leaning organizations invested millions of dollars in a campaign to oppose all six. The two most controversial, which would have transferred powers from the Governor to the General Assembly, failed to pass. But North Carolinians voted in favor of the remaining four: an income tax cap, increased rights for crime victims, protections for hunting and fishing, and a photo-ID voting requirement.
With key gains, but overall mixed results, Democrats will set their sights on winning NC majorities in 2020. A new, less gerrymandered district map, likely to be established before then, might make that outcome possible.