The other night, at dinner with a bunch of friends, we were talking politics, because these days it’s impossible to get through five minutes of any conversation without talking about politics. One friend talked about his hopes for the midterm elections. What he said was: “God, I’m just hoping for gridlock.”
Well, he should be fairly happy this morning. Nobody should be super happy, except maybe the winning candidates. Most of us, this time around, are going to have to be satisfied with half a loaf.
Here’s one way to look at it: the Republicans won by weight and the Democrats won by volume.
GOP candidates won most of the big-ticket races locally and nationally. Republican Mark Harris won the biggest local race, edging Dan McCready for a seat in the U.S. House. In Florida, Ron DeSantis beat Andrew Gillum for governor, and out in Texas, Ted Cruz beat newcomer Beto O’Rourke for the Senate. Brian Kemp was beating Stacey Abrams in the Georgia governor’s race as Tuesday bled into Wednesday. All those races drew attention and money from across the country.
But when it came to sheer numbers, Democrats took home wins by the bushel. The Dems ended the Republican majority in the U.S. House and wiped out the GOP’s supermajority in the North Carolina House. Democrat Natasha Marcus took down three-term GOP state senator Jeff Tarte, and Brandon Lofton beat Republican Andy Dulin for the North Carolina House.
And in Mecklenburg County, Democrats look to have pitched a 9-0 shutout. They locked up six seats easily, and incumbent Republicans Jim Puckett and Matthew Ridenhour also lost in their district races to Elaine Powell and Susan Harden. As I’m writing this, a little after 1 in the morning, Bill James is down 2,000 votes to Susan Rodriguez McDowell with one precinct still out. James had won his seat 11 straight times. This is his 22nd year as a commissioner – he’s been in office just two years less than the Carolina Panthers have been a football team. And now he appears to be going down. If he does, that means county voters replaced three Republican men with three Democratic women.
There’s a lot more to sift through and sort out, a lot of precinct results to pore over like baseball box scores. But here are a couple of parting thoughts.
First of all, good on all of you who went out to vote. I suspect the final tally will show a record turnout for midterm elections. The one and maybe only thing I will ever thank President Trump for is getting people to care about politics again. My wife and I were in line to vote Tuesday morning when a sudden squall hit – it felt like one of those forty-days-and-forty-nights kind of storms. Some of us got absolutely soaked. But nobody jumped out of line. By God, we were voting, no matter what.
The second thing is, voting once is not enough. The Rev. William Barber likes to tell people about the Montgomery bus boycott, the one that started when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. It took 381 days and a battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court before black people in Montgomery won the simple right to sit wherever they wanted on the bus. If you want lasting change in politics, you need a thick skin and a deep well of stamina. You need to work for what you want this country to be.
They don’t give out a cute little sticker for that. You’ll have to settle for knowing that you can change the world.
Tommy Tomlinson’s commentaries appear every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. They represent his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to his commentaries in the comments below. You can also email Tommy at email@example.com.