Opinion Columns & Blogs - INACTIVE

Right, Left, Center react to Democrats’ election victories

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez speaks at the Northam For Governor election night party at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Tuesday.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez speaks at the Northam For Governor election night party at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Tuesday. AP

The political news cycle is fast, and keeping up can be overwhelming. Trying to find differing perspectives worth your time is even harder. That’s why we have scoured the internet for political writing from the right and left that you might not have seen.

From the Right

Mollie Hemingway in The Federalist:

“Democrats are finally focusing on statehouse races, and this should terrify Republicans.”

Hemingway acknowledges that “everything went Democrats’ way” in the Virginia election. It was a tidal wave that had a number of causes she points to in her piece, including the weakness of the Republican candidate Ed Gillespie, and the carefully crafted statewide campaign from the Democratic National Committee.

She also warns against pundits who claim that this race is predictive of the 2018 midterms. She admits, however, that for Republicans to hold on to their House majority, they are going to “have to make the case for their survival” with legislative wins.

Joel B. Pollak in Breitbart:

“It would be more accurate to point out that, once again, the Republican establishment came up short.”

Over at Breitbart, Pollak argues that the Virginia election for governor is not so much a repudiation of the president but, rather, a rejection of the establishment. Moreover, he sees the results as a reflection of voters’ concerns over health care, writing that Virginia voters “continue to prefer the insurance they do not have to the insurance Republicans will give them.”

And while he places most of the blame on the Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul D. Ryan, he concedes that when it comes to legislative accomplishment, “the buck stops with Trump.”

Jim Geraghty in National Review:

“[...] tonight is about as bad as it can get for the G.O.P. — a sense of déjà vu from the results across the country 2006 and 2008.”

According to Geraghty, those on the right who blame Gillespie’s establishment ties and those on the left who emphasize his Trump-inspired campaign strategy are both right. In a sense, he writes, “Gillespie’s getting the worst of both worlds.” And however you choose to explain his loss — and the Republican Party’s statewide losses in Virginia and elsewhere — “Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration should feel slapped in the face.”

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From the Left

Joan Walsh in The Nation:

“Given the election results, and the number of new statehouse candidates elected, it’s possible Virginia saw something new: a reverse-coattails effect, where the surge of candidates running for the statehouse, most of them women, helped propel Northam and his ticket to victory.”

Walsh suggests that we understand Ralph S. Northam’s victory as a result of the energy introduced by female and other diverse candidates running for positions in the statehouse. And while she admits that this “reverse-coattails” theory may not be the whole explanation, for . Walsh one thing is for sure: “G.O.P. gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie’s decision to turn his back on his moderate Republican legacy and run as a race-baiting Trump Republican was a disaster.”

Jamelle Bouie in Slate:

“It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of the Democratic Party’s victory on Tuesday.”

Bouie sees lessons in Tuesday’s election for all sides. He advises Democratic candidates to ride on the anti-Trump energy that propelled so many into office this election cycle.

Moreover, the lesson for Republicans is to learn just how ineffective “Trumpism without Trump” can be. The strategy, which he defines as “just a euphemism for the politics of white identity,” is a key to understanding why Gillespie lost the governorship. Finally, he reminds his readers that “the rules of politics still apply.” Adding that “unpopular presidents make for unpopular parties.”

Benjamin Wallace-Wells in The New Yorker:

“The questions now will be about whether even Trump can afford to stay loyal to Trumpism.”

It is clear to Wallace-Wells that “Trumpism without Trump” isn’t a winning strategy for Republican candidates. It may even become toxic to the president himself, who is struggling without a significant legislative accomplishment.

“Part of the difference may simply be that a Trump presidency is no longer an abstraction,” Mr. Wallace-Wells writes, and that the rhetoric of racial grievance plays better on the campaign trail than in office. Read more »

From the Center

Nate Silver in Five Thirty Eight:

“[...] Tuesday’s results shouldn’t have exceeded your expectations for Democrats by all that much because you should have had high expectations already.”

Silver argues that no one should be surprised that a Democratic wave of victories occurred for an opposition party during a midterm election, particularly with a president with approval ratings as low as those of Trump.

Looking to the 2018 midterms, Silver is cautiously optimistic about the fate of Democrats looking to continue their victories. He explains why pundits misinterpret polling and election results, writing that there is “tendency to fight the last war.”

He concludes, however, that “while Tuesday’s results may not change the reality of the 2018 outlook all that much, it could change perceptions about it, and that could have some knock-on effects.”

Dana Milbank in Washington Post:

“Essentially, Gillespie turned the Virginia gubernatorial race into a cultural war, much as Trump did with the 2016 election. But this time, the cultural warrior lost, as he sorely deserved to.”

Even though the president was thousands of miles away during the election, Milbank writes, he was very much on the ballot in Virginia. Gillespie’s loss is Mr. Trump’s loss, he argues, though the Democrats’ win is accompanied by a “depressing asterisk.”

Gillespie’s campaign is a sad reminder that “racial animus and cultural grievances are a greater factor than conventional issues such as economic well-being.”

Anna Dubenko is a columnist with The New York Times. Connect with her by email at ourpicks@nytimes.com.

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