This week’s elections in certain states of America are critical as a barometer of the national mood exactly a year before Election 2020.
There is a degree of pregnant symbolism in the euphoric message ~ “Virginia goes blue”. Most importantly because for the first time in 25 years, Democrats hold all levers of power in this state on the periphery of Washington DC and often referred to as a “bellwether of the national political mood”.
The psephological swing has reinforced the overwhelming disenchantment with Donald Trump, with Congress gearing up for possible impeachment of the President. Yet it is early days to speculate on the national outcome a year from now. With the state legislature under control, Democrats have vowed to advance gun control legislation and healthcare reforms. Whether in Virginia or Kentucky, it was a closely monitored test of Mr Trump’s appeal with Republicans.
“This historic victory should send a chill down the spines of Donald Trump and every Republican,” was the response of Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee. The race for the state’s office of Governor has yielded a narrow win for the Democratic party. Nonetheless, Democrat Andy Beshear has pledged to expand Medicaid access, install new leaders on the state’s school board and restore voting rights to some felons.
The states that went to the polls have buttressed their faith in the fundamentals of the Democratic agenda. At another remove, Republicans were particularly pleased with the election of Republican Daniel Cameron, who will be the first African American in the state’s history to serve as Kentucky’s attorney-general. Republicans have also overcome a competitive challenge to maintain control of the Governor’s office in Mississippi, a sign of the party’s enduring strength in the deep south.
At another remove, Democrats were ecstatic following their victories in Virginia and Kentucky. But the successful candidates were largely political moderates able to win over suburban voters in conservative areas.
This follows the Congressional midterms in 2018, when Democrats regained control of the House. A prominent feature of the Democratic presidential primary race has been the ideological divide between centrist candidates like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg and progressives like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
It would be premature to hazard a guess on whether the results will affect the primary, but they will give a boost to candidates who are running on a more centrist platform. There is little doubt that the results have yielded a mixed bag. Though Republicans have alienated a segment of suburban voters, they have managed to respond to a spirited and well-funded challenge in Mississippi. Markedly, they have held on to most statewide offices in Kentucky.