Read: The midterms sent an unmistakable message to Republicans.
To this day, the two reliably Republican districts have a lot in common. Both voted for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama, and for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Both districts boast a high proportion of college-educated voters. Finally, but maybe not surprisingly, large shares of both districts are white: more than 60 percent of residents in Gingrich’s old stomping ground, and nearly 86 percent in Hastert’s.
This year, both districts broke the Trumpian script by turning blue. Lucy McBath, who connected with thousands of voters by sharing the anguish she felt after losing her son to gun violence, won in Georgia. Lauren Underwood, a nurse who focused her campaign on health care, economic growth, and gun safety, prevailed in Illinois. Here’s what’s so remarkable: Representatives-elect McBath and Underwood are both African American.
Houston, Texas, has a similar story to tell. Harris County, which includes Houston, has elected white Republican men to run its local government in every election for decades. But this year, Harris County elected as its top executive a 27-year-old woman who promised to fight corruption, increase transparency, and champion criminal-justice reform. Lina Hidalgo is a Colombian immigrant.
These stories are part of an emerging trend. Antonio Delgado, an African American Rhodes Scholar attacked by the GOP as a “big-city rapper,” won a congressional race in New York’s Hudson Valley. Andy Kim, who is Asian American, won a congressional race in suburban New Jersey. I’m not convinced these places would have been willing to elect minority candidates or women when Democrats took back the House in 2006. This year, any doubts were put to rest.
David Frum: There is no progressive majority in America.
These results are both breathtaking and heartwarming. While there is ample evidence that the divisions we saw in 2016 only got deeper in 2018, there are also signs that Americans are finding common ground and unity. Just when you thought things could not get worse, they didn’t.
Activists should take heart in knowing that many Americans aren’t buying the message that they ought to retreat into their own corners, voting exclusively for people who look or sound like them. As Barack Obama said in Grant Park the night he was elected president: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.” That is still true.
Maybe even more important, these races should serve as a reminder that Democrats’ impulse to paint Trump supporters with a single brush can obscure what’s really happening in voters’ hearts and minds. Yes, too many Americans continue to cast their ballot on the basis of ingrained prejudice. But many of the men and women who voted for President Trump in 2016 saw beyond their own identity when voting earlier this month.