Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Every silver lining has a cloud

Since yesterday's election results felt so great even Steve M, the Schopenhauer of the Intertubes, can't resist feeling a little giddy about them, I felt it might be a good idea for somebody to try looking for some bad news, and found some with Nate Cohn of the Upshot (the Nate with whom the Times replaced Nate Silver when he broke up with them, because you've got to go to battle with the Nates you've got rather than the Nates you might wish to have, but it's a mistake to go into battle with no Nates at all), who points out Ralph Northam's victory in the gubernatorial race in Virginia didn't look any different from Hillary Clinton's victory there a year ago, and even the stunning Democratic surge in the legislature races seemed to echo 2016:
The big surprise of the night was the huge Democratic surge in Virginia’s house of delegates, but that also came in Clinton Country. Of the 16 districts where Democrats currently lead in Virginia, Mrs. Clinton won 15 of them and received 49.7 percent of the vote in the other, according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project and Daily Kos Elections. Twelve of those 15 districts voted for Mrs. Clinton by at least five points.
So it sounds as if Democrats got the same results last night as they would have gotten then, and in that sense something new hasn't happened. 

The other side is that one reason it was so like 2016 is that so many people voted—47%, the highest turnout in a Virginia gubernatorial election in 20 years.  In a normal off-off-year election, the same kind of idiocy we're stuck with in New York City and New Jersey, the candidate of the leisured, the management, the retired, has an advantage. Not this year: voters just came out.

And not just voters; candidates too. In 2013, 56 out of 100 districts had no opposition (mostly Republican seats), and no election was required at all; 71 of them in 2015. But in 2017 there were just 12 Republican seats with no opposition (28 Democratic seats unopposed by Republicans), because Democrats came out in Virginia to challenge everybody they could, and they won such a startling number those seats because they showed up. That simple. (Apparently Trump really inspired folks to run, particularly women, just by being so disgusting.) (Guy on MSNBC—Stuart Stevens, Wikipedia says he's a travel writer—saying every woman running as a Democrat nationwide just won her race.)

Actually I can't make myself feel pessimistic at all. I did my best!

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