The political pundits, and the rest of America, are focused on last night’s stunning presidential results — but Donald Trump’s upset victory was only the crest of a wave that swept across the country, as Democrats watched their party all but wash away.
In the Senate, Republicans held on in almost all of their fiercely fought contests. Ron Johnson defeated challenger Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, despite having led in just one poll since February. In Indiana, Todd Young upset former governor Evan Bayh by ten points in a race Bayh was predicted to win by a large margin. In July, senators Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer urged Bayh to enter the race, and with a $9 million funding advantage from the start, he leapt to an early 20-point lead. A similar tale played out for Richard Burr in North Carolina, Roy Blunt in Missouri, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, and Marco Rubio in Florida. The result? Republicans now have a 51-seat majority (plus the likely Republican victory in Louisiana’s run-off, and Senator Kelly Ayotte still may win re-election in New Hampshire).
Meanwhile, at the state level, Republicans racked up state legislators and picked up three new governor’s seats, in Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL who ran an anti-establishment campaign, upset Missouri’s attorney general Chris Koster, while in New Hampshire, Chris Sununu eked out a victory, defeating Colin Van Ostern to become, at age 42, the country’s youngest governor. And in Vermont, Phil Scott defeated Sue Minter by nine points in a state Democrats have long taken for granted. With three more states turned red, Republicans hold 33 governor’s mansions.
But what may be the most significant Republican victory of the evening is the number of state-legislature pickups. After 95 years with a Democratic majority, the Kentucky House is now controlled by Republicans. After last night, every southern state legislature is Republican, as are Minnesota and Iowa. Meanwhile, Connecticut — yes, Connecticut — now has an evenly split state senate, with both parties in control of 18 seats (before Tuesday, the state senate had a six-seat Democratic majority). And, finally, although Illinois’s state legislature still has a Democratic majority, Republicans wildly outperformed expectations and eliminated the Democrats veto-proof majority.