After years of disappointing results, Nov. 8 marks the first big wins for Democrats. Ranging from off-cycle gubernational elections in Virginia and New Jersey to small district elections, Democrats were able to break ahead and defeat republican incumbents.
In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam won an election against incumbent Republican Ed Gillespie who ran a Trump aligned campaign, actively supporting Trump policies such as the wall or the Muslim travel ban. Ralph Northam, on the other hand, ran an anti-Trump campaign; Northam just as often attacked Trump as he had attacked Gillespie.
Other symbolically meaningful elections took place in Virginia. The Democrats won a race for lieutenant governor and state attorney general in Virginia, and gained ten seats in the House of Delegates. Danica Roem was one of ten constituents elected to the House of Delegates, who then became the first transgender woman to be elected into state legislation. Ironically, Roem replaced Republican Bob Marshall, who referred to himself as Virginia’s “chief homophobe” and pushed an anti-transgender bathroom bill, which would bar users to enter restroom, changing facility, or private areas of their non-born sex.
“I am optimistic about the progress that transgender people are making,” said Jessica Terbrueggen, English 10 teacher. “It would have been unlikely for an openly transgender person to be elected ten years ago. However, there are election cycles that swing back and forth. So, when a current party holds the office, the voting members can become complacent, while simultaneously voters of the opposing party are reinvigorated of purpose. Therefore, while we have won the battle, we have yet to win the fight.”
The Democrats’ success continued in New Jersey. Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Republican Kim Guadagno, replacing the unpopular Chris Christie as the Governer of New Jersey. While not unexpected, as Murphy was leading in polls by more than ten points, the results still give a lot of momentum to the Democratic party, especially since Chris Christie’s win in 2009 was one of the first powerful blows to Obama’s presidency.
“The Democrats should not get too excited,” said Morgan Miller, AP Economics teacher. “Virginia and New Jersey are already Democrat-leaning states and 2018 will be much harder to win. The win is really more about the demographics of these states than it is about Trump.”
These new election results could be the representations of the Trump-related wave of Democratic wins like many predicted, although it is too early to determine for sure. The results from this election might signal the Democratic wave, which might lead to the Republican party to distance itself from Trump.