Artwork by Toni Truesdale, a Maine artist and member of Suit Up Maine.
How about those election results? Democrats flipped the U.S. House of Representatives and broke Republican strangleholds at the all-important state level, where redistricting decisions are made, not to mention countless laws that affect everyday life. These state and national Blue Wave wins are due in large part to the efforts of thousands of citizen activists who ran for office, worked on campaigns, educated voters, knocked on doors, made phone calls, sent postcards, and many other actions to get out the vote for candidates who support a progressive agenda. So pat yourself on the back and settle in for a good read. This wouldn’t have been possible without your hard work!
Maine’s Blue Tsunami
- Due to the gritty persistence of hundreds, maybe thousands, of Mainers fed up with the agenda and antics of Paul LePage and DJT, and to having some mighty fine candidates running, Maine saw the biggest shift toward the Democrats of any state in the country.
- Ours is one of 7 states in which Democrats achieved a trifecta, winning control of the governorship and both legislative houses. Governor-elect Janet Mills, the first woman elected to this office in Maine, will benefit from a recaptured Democratic majority in the Senate and a wider majority in the House. The seven new trifecta states bring to 13 the number of states fully under Democratic governance. The GOP has 21. All hail to all those who canvassed, talked to neighbors, wrote letters to the editor or postcards or letters, donated, or worked on a campaign.
- Also due to that hard work, at the federal level, Senator Angus King (I) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D) cruised to re-election, and Jared Golden toppled Bruce Poliquin for Maine’s CD2 US House seat—the first time anyone has beaten an incumbent in this district in over a century, and the nation’s first use of instant run-off voting (ranked choice) for a federal office. Among the reasons voters rejected Poliquin were his party-line votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and enact big tax cuts for the richest Americans.
- Jared Golden wasn’t the only candidate to make history. Several state and county Democratic candidates also made headlines in their races. Chloe Maxmin of Nobleboro became the first Democrat to ever win Maine House District 88 and Natasha Irving of Waldoboro became the first woman and the first Democrat ever elected to district attorney in the state, defeating an incumbent for DA for District 6 (Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, and Waldo counties).
- Governor-elect Janet Mills appeared in court the day after the election at a proceeding related to the court battles underway to get Governor LePage to follow the law and implement Medicaid expansion. Mills stated that she would enact Medicaid expansion as soon as she takes office. About 70,000 low-income Mainers will soon have access to medical care due to Medicaid expansion, and this will create jobs, too. Elections matter.
- Nov. 6 brought defeat to 11 of the 16 legislative candidates who signed the anti-immigrant “Maine First Pledge” organized by white nationalist Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst). They and many other candidates who ran campaigns based on appeals to bigotry and fear lost their bids for office, from the US Senate race to Maine House races in Rockland and Dresden.
- Maine voters strengthened the Democratic majority in the Maine House to 16 seats, and women now comprise 54% of the new House Democratic caucus.
- As the nation watched, Maine’s first use of instant runoff (ranked choice) voting in a general election went so smoothly that it is likely to fuel efforts in other states to implement a similar system. Kudos to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and his team for showing them how it’s done.
- Maine voters approved four bond issues totaling $200 million for wastewater and transportation infrastructure and construction and upgrades to campuses in the University of Maine system and the state’s seven community colleges.
In national Blue Wave news…
In case you were (understandably) so excited by Maine’s results that you missed what happened in the rest of the country…
- In January, Democrats will hold at least a 13-seat majority in the House, having flipped at least 37 seats. They plan to “force transparency on this president” by actually fulfilling their constitutional responsibility to exercise oversight over the executive branch. They will be opening investigations into the administration’s corruption and conflicts of interest, Russia ties, response to Hurricane Maria, security clearance approval process, interference with the justice system, and family separations policy.
- Since Democrats will now control what goes to the floor, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that there will be no further scares about ending the Affordable Care Act, or slashing social security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, scientific research, or environment-related funding. (In short, millions of Americans will sleep better now.)
- To achieve this majority, Democrats had to overcome significant Republican gerrymandering.
- More than 60 million people voted for Democratic House candidates this year, compared to 45 million for Republicans in their 2010 sweep.
- There were more than 5,300 Democratic candidates for state legislative office nationwide, the biggest number since 1982. Almost half the candidates were women, and more than 1,100 were people of color. Democrats gained more than 380 legislative seats across the country and flipped 7 governorships and 6 legislative houses.
- Congress will have a record number of women now, overwhelmingly Democratic.
- Democrats Deb Haaland (NM) and Sharice Davids (KS) will become the first Native American women in the U.S. Congress. Davids will also be the first LGBT person to represent Kansas.
- The 2018 elections saw at least 150 LGBTQ candidates elected across the country and booted some of the most bigoted GOP anti-LGBTQ out of office.
- Catalina Cruz became the first former Dreamer elected to the New York State Assembly.
- Voters in many areas rejected DJ’s anti-immigrant agenda, whether by their votes for sheriff (who can choose to cooperate with ICE—or not) or by their votes on ballot measures. In election polls, 54% of voters agreed with the statement that “immigrants strengthen our country.”
- Oregon voters resoundingly rejected a ballot measure proposed by hate groups that would have repealed a 1987 law prohibiting the state from using any public resources to find and detain undocumented immigrants not suspected of any crime.
- After successful challenges to incumbents in Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Colorado, 27 of the nation’s Attorneys General are now Democrats. The AGs have been on the front lines of the resistance to DJ’s agenda because they can sue him for overreach that violates states’ rights or for measures that harm their states.
- A number of progressive candidates striving for criminal justice reform were elected as District Attorneys, including in Maine, Texas and Massachusetts.
- 27-year-old Safiya Wazir, who came to this country after fleeing the Taliban, was elected to the New Hampshire Legislature.
- Voter turnout was the highest for a midterm election since 1914. According to the United States Election Project, more than 49% of the voting-eligible population cast a vote. This is about 12.8% more than in 2014. That number could go even higher as more states certify their final vote tallies.
- These groups turned away from the GOP by double-digit percentages compared to 2016: white unmarried women, white women with college degrees, white working-class women, white working-class men, voters in rural areas (only by 7% according to one poll).
- Latino participation increased 174% and African American participation by 157%.
- Early voting by young voters (18-29) increased by 188%. Overall, about 31% of eligible young people cast a ballot in this election, up 10% from 2014. More work to do, but progress.
- About 40% of moderate Republicans either voted Democrat or stayed home.
- Jared Polis (D-Colorado) became the first openly gay person elected as governor.
- At least 27 people newly elected to state and federal office have STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) backgrounds. Along with some incumbents, they were endorsed by 314 Action, a group that strives to be “the Emily’s List for scientists.”
- Thanks in part to strong journalism highlighting its problems, Louisiana voters overturned a Jim Crow law that allowed convictions in felony trials by non-unanimous jury votes. Under the now-overturned law, African American defendants were 30% more likely to be convicted than whites.
- Florida restored voting rights to many formerly incarcerated people (not those convicted of murder or sexual assault), with the passage of Amendment 4. Florida’s old ban on voting rights for people with felony records disenfranchised 20% of the African American population of Florida. Had Amendment 4 been in place before the 2018 election, Democrat Bill Nelson would likely have kept his seat.
- Following decades of police brutality and bias against black residents, Nashville voters created a citizen oversight panel to monitor the police department.
- North Carolina voters broke the GOP’s supermajority in the state house, meaning that Democratic governor Roy Cooper will now be able to veto bills, and the legislature—known for its racial gerrymandering and outlandish antics—will have to work with him.
- Pennsylvania Democrats broke the Republican supermajority in the state’s Senate. This is the state where GOP legislators threatened to impeach justices because they had ruled against the GOP gerrymandering. Without a supermajority, that is no longer possible.
- Democrat Laura Kelly was elected governor in Kansas, one of the reddest states in the country, defeating Kris Kobach, of bogus voter fraud committee fame.
- Historically conservative Orange County, California, where a Democratic presidential candidate has not won since 1936, has flipped totally blue (all 6 House seats). And the candidates won by campaigning on a progressive message. This was the most Republican large county in the country, sometimes referred to as the “cradle of conservatism.”
- One of the Orange County Republicans to lose his seat was Dana Rohrabacher, Putin’s favorite congressman, who also believes climate change is a joke.
- Wisconsin voters ousted Governor Scott Walker, the right-wing, education-slashing governor of Wisconsin, electing former elementary school principal Tony Evers, a Democrat.
- Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won Jeff Flake’s Senate seat in Arizona, and opponent Martha McSally angered the White House and the Republican National Committee by refusing to allege that there had been something amiss with the vote count.
- Voters in deep red Missouri and Arkansas approved big increases to their states’ minimum wages, which will boost income for more than a million workers in the two states.
- Michigan, Missouri, Colorado, and Utah will end partisan gerrymandering by the legislatures by creating independent commissions to determine voting districts.
- Michigan and Nevada passed automatic voter registration measures, and Michigan also instituted no-excuse absentee voting.
- Medicaid expansion passed in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah.
- In Harris County, Texas (Houston area), all 19 black women running for a position as a judge won.
And remember that these triumphs follow similar ones from the 2017 elections, which we were celebrating a year ago. Keep showing up. Be a voter. Eternal vigilance!
Want more good news? Read our past Victories & Good News Roundup reports HERE.