There is a near-consensus view growing among experts who have analyzed the results of the Tuesday, Nov. 7, elections. That view is pretty straightforward: The fact that the 2017 elections brought overwhelming success for Democrats, particularly in Virginia and New Jersey, is not just bad for President Donald Trump and the GOP this year. Much worse, the 2017 elections were bad for Trump and Republicans and who need to win next year's midterm elections, as well.
Why, exactly, are the 2017 elections a bad sign for Trump and Republicans next year?
The two most high-profile results on the map on Tuesday night were in the gubernatorial races of Virginia and New Jersey. In both of those states, Democratic candidates for whom former President Barack Obama campaigned won the governorship of their respective states handily.
But it's not those two races alone that have informed to view of those who say these recent elections were a sign of bad things to come for the GOP. Whether you're reading summaries from conservative websites like The Weekly Standard, or taking your analysis from more mainstream outlets like CNN, that is a common fact about Tuesday night that is being highlighted.
Democrats just didn't win the gubernatorial race in Virginia — they won a significant number of seats in the House of Delegates, the chamber which helps make laws in Virginia and is akin to the U.S. House of Representatives. That fact is important for a very easy-to-overlook reason. Though Barack Obama won back-to-back national elections in 2008 and 2012 and was individually popular, the Democratic party suffered during his tenure in the White House. The party lost more than 1,000 legislative seats, positions of power that stack up due to local elections like the one that transpired on Tuesday night in Virginia.
After Tuesday night, there are signs that while Trump's personality drove him to the White House, his actual politics since getting to Washington D.C. could hurt the party in local elections, like it seemed to this year, and in national elections for members of Congress next year.
Now, eyes are turning towards the 2018 races, with people wondering whether those races will produce a similar result to 2006 midterm elections. Back then, the Democrats gained back majority control of the House of Representatives two years before the end of former President George W. Bush's second term. Doing the same in 2018 would mean that Democrats regain some power in Washington D.C., where Republican currently head the White House, Senate and the House.
Unsurprisingly, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee confidently pointed to the same possibility the same on Wednesday morning.
"The last time we elected governors in New Jersey and Virginia, in the same year, was 2005." The chairman, Tom Perez, said during a press call on Nov. 8. "And we know what happened in 2006."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did much of the same. "The door is certainly open for us," said Rep. Pelosi, who is likely to become Speaker of the House if Democrats took back a majority in the chamber after 2018, according to the Washington Examiner. "In '05, right now, we had President Bush down to 38 percent [approval rating], that's approximately where President Trump is now."
Why such an outcome would be bad for President Trump is pretty fundamental. Trump has not been able to facilitate a major accomplishment legislatively — like an Obamacare repeal — with Republicans in the majority of both chambers in Congress.
If Democrats regain the House, that would mean a greater check on the influence he wields, all as he tries accomplishing an agenda that's already proven too difficult to fulfill with Republicans controlling the White House, Senate, and the House.