Monday, November 19, 2018

'Big victory': Another Trump whopper

           For the Party of Trump, it's just a misty memory now – a celebration way back there in June.

            Republican Karen Handel had barely edged out Democrat Jon Ossoff for a vacant suburban Atlanta seat in Congress.

            It was the first special election watched nationwide to see how general disgust for Donald Trump would boost Democrats' fortunes, even in Red State America.

            When Handel won, Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway tweeted, "Laughing my #ossoff."

            Yes, well. That was June, and the administration's laughter has subsided.

            On Nov. 6, Handel lost the seat she had held for a whole five months.

            The winner? Lucy McBath, an African-American gun-control activist whose son was shot dead six years ago in a dispute over loud music.

            At this count, that makes 39 Democratic congressional pickups – a whopping 15 more than they needed to flip the House.

            Trump called the results Nov. 6 a "big victory," and said he was "ecstatic." Odd. That doesn't appear to have been his demeanor since.

            You'd be cranky, too, if your foes flipped more than 300 legislative seats, won seven new governor seats, and assumed the majority of attorneys general – the office that sues.

            Except for a barren few instances, truly notable Republican victories were stunningly close -- even in Texas, even in Georgia.

            Meanwhile, the U.S. House, with its power of the purse (adios, beautiful border wall) and investigation (hola, Trump tax returns) now will provide the check on the president that this moment demands.

            The Republicans' drubbing in the House was the most decisive since post-Watergate house-cleaning.

            Though many Democrats wanted more (the Senate), consider what just happened.

            They took back the House of Representatives in spite of gerrymandering that caused many to think of the GOP majority as impenetrable.

            They took it back in spite of Republican vote suppression efforts aimed squarely and strategically at people of color.

            A lightly reported fact is that several states voted for measures that will continue to erode the corruption of vote suppression and gerrymandering:

            1. Florida approved a measure to allow ex-convicts to vote.

            2. A measure to end gerrymandering staged a landslide victory in Missouri.

            3. In Michigan, voters approved a package that not only will end gerrymandering but set in motion automatic voter registration, same-day registration and "no excuse" absentee voting.

            4. Colorado voters approved two ballot issues to end partisan gerrymandering. The Centennial State already has same-day registration and mail-in ballots. Results? A 62 percent turnout -- in a mid-term election. Wow.

            5. And if you want to talk blue wave: Colorado just gave the Democrats monolithic control of the legislative process -- a Democratic governor, D-controlled House and Senate, and a sweep of statewide offices.

            Thanks, President Trump.

            Moderate Republican Congressman Mike Coffman had clipped along for years in a suburban Denver district, repeatedly fending off strong challengers.

            Then came the Trump presidency. Now Coffman will be unemployed.

            The question now is what this portends for 2020. Many say that the spell Trump casts on rural America and the South will work out for him again in the Electoral College.

            It certainly could. However, as poorly as Republicans did in swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona, Trump would have to reclaim a lot of support that appears to have vanished.

            Trump still has a clammy grip on Republican love. That won't get him a second term.

            A September Gallup Poll found that only 31 percent of independents view him favorably.

            More ominously for Mr. Personality, a November poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics found that, for respondents under age 30, the president's approval rating was a bottom-scraping 26 percent. Fifty-nine percent said they "will never" vote for him.

            Never. That's a long time.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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