10 Positive Takeaways From the 2018 Midterms

Election results are still rolling in from Tuesday night’s midterms, and while they may not completely reflect the advertised “blue wave,” there’s a lot to celebrate between the lines — and a lot to think about in coming months and years as minds turn to the 2018 presidential campaign. For those new to following politics, it might feel like a long list of frustrating losses, but that’s not the right takeaway here: There are a ton of hopeful things happening in America this week and you helped make some of them happen!

Midterms tend to act as a referendum on a presidency, and these definitely delivered. Democrats have taken control of the House and while the GOP retains control of the Senate, many of those races were very close. That’s bad news for a party that holds the White House.

Meanwhile, Democrats picked up several governorships, which is a big deal: Governors have a tremendous amount of authority in redistricting, which will be triggered by the 2020 Census. In other news, the choices made by voters tonight will literally shape the districts they live in very soon.

Here are 10 other positive results you may have missed that progressive activists should celebrate:

 

1. Florida voters banned dog racing and restored voting rights to 1.4 million formerly incarcerated people.

2. Colorado modified its constitution to eliminate unpaid labor for criminals.

3. Arkansas and Missouri upped their minimum wages.

4. Oregon rejected an anti-abortion bill.

5. Maryland approved Election Day voter registration.

6. Massachusetts affirmed trans rights.

7. Washington passed gun control and police use of force measures.

8. Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah approved Medicaid expansions.

9. Colorado elected the first out gay governor, Jared Polis.

10. Minnesota and Michigan elected the first Muslim women in Congress, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.

In fact, a record number of women will serve in Congress, many of them progressive Democrats. Politics is looking less white and more young, and that’s fantastic news.

There’s bad news, too, however. In Alabama and West Virginia, voters passed anti-abortion measures; Arkansas and North Carolina passed voter ID measures; numerous other states passed harmful “Marsy’s Law” ballot initiatives; and Washington rejected an initiative to cut greenhouse gasses.

These are just a few of the things that happened on election night! A mix of good and bad always happens during elections, but it stings when it hits a state, race, or issue close to home. Stacey Abrams is trailing Kemp but she has yet to concede at this point. Her team fought a lot of irregularities during the campaign and on Election Day, which led many to fear voter suppression might be at work.

The first takeaway from any election is that it’s not the end of the road. It’s the start of the journey. Now that we’ve seen how the electoral map has shaken down, we have a better sense of what’s needed, where, and how best to apply it. For example, the passage of Medicaid expansions in red states shows that healthcare is an issue of broad concern, and that’s something to leverage in conversations in the future. And the problems with long lines at polling places, broken equipment, confusing ballots, and more illustrate that we still need to take action to make elections more accessible and ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

The overwhelming turnout, especially in early voting, also shows that mobilizing voters matters. If you volunteered on a campaign, urged friends and family to participate, or took other steps to help get out the vote, you helped with that! The high level of engagement with ballot issues also shows people genuinely care and are getting engaged, and that sets us up for more conversations as we move into the 2020 election cycle.

If you’re feeling mad, dispirited, or disappointed by election results, know that change happens incrementally, and a lot of change happened on Election Day. It didn’t roll out uniformly everywhere, and there were serious setbacks, but the bright spots on the map are worth focusing on. Ask yourself how you can make more bright spots appear in 2020: Maybe that’s volunteering on a campaign, running for office yourself, donating, or mobilizing in your community.

Get to know your new representatives, whether they belong to your party or not. They work for you, and it helps to learn about them, since you may be spending a lot of time calling them. If it was a close race, look for areas where they’re vulnerable, whether you want to take advantage of those areas or work with their staffers to help them improve.

Stay connected with organizing groups, too; there’s another election to plan for, of course, but there’s also a lot of important political work to be done, including advocating on voting rights, defending health care, securing protection for vulnerable communities, and much, much more.

And brace yourself: With Republicans losing their hold on the House, it’s highly probable we will see some attempts at fast-tracking legislation between now and when the new Congress is seated!

87 comments

Shirley Plowman
Shirley P6 days ago

THANK GOD FOR ALL THE POSITIVES!!!! BETWEEN TRUMP AND PUTIN, OUR DEMOCRACY IS IN SHAMBLES!!!!

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Tabot T
Tabot T6 days ago

We need more people voting so that the will of the people is heeded

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joan s
joan silaco7 days ago

KUDOS for Florida and California! For the animals sake, the public have spoken!

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sandy Gardner
sandy Gardner7 days ago

FLORIDA! WAY to go! Even though you stole the election from Gore you partially redeem yourself by eliminating those dog death traps. Kudos on the prisoner voting too.

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Nena C
Nena C8 days ago

only good might come was more women, thats about it far as my own opinion!!

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David C
David C9 days ago

#10, just to be clear, since you said Minnesota and Michigan....Ilhan Omar is the one from Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib from Michigan...…...

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David C
David C9 days ago

good things, thanks

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Justin M
Justin M9 days ago

Thanks

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Emma L
Emma L9 days ago

Noted. Thank you.

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Renata Kovacs
Renata Kovacs9 days ago

Thank you for sharing..

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