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09

“We’re with Trump,” he said after Tuesday’s elections.

Indeed you are. 

So is every Republican on the ballot next year. They’re lashed to Trump like Ahab to the whale. If they cross Trump, they lose a primary. If they’re with him, they lose the kind of suburban voters who made Tuesday a rout. 

Now, Democrats can be forgiven for dancing in the end zone this week. The results were as pleasant a surprise as Trump’s win a year ago was a sickening shock. 

But let’s not get carried away. Virginia, New Jersey, Maine and Washington state aren’t exactly a representative sample. 

New Jersey just had eight years of Chris Christie. He was Trump before Trump: belligerent, loud and just plain mean. The act got old, like Trump’s already has.

Virginia is now a solid blue state, thanks to the growth of the DC suburbs and college-educated whites. Hillary won Virginia by 5.  Northam won by 9. That’s a 4-point bump, enough to nearly flip the state House there.

North Carolina may be headed the same way, given the growth in cities and the decline of small towns and rural areas. But we’re a lot bigger than Virginia, and we haven’t reached that demographic tipping point. Yet. And Republicans are doing all they can to stop that college-educated thing.

A 4-point swing would be nice in North Carolina, enough to break the supermajority, but not flip either house. It would jeopardize George Holding and Robert Pittenger (if he survives the primary.) Hillary would have been even with Trump, and Cooper would have won by 4.

(Now we wish we’d had special legislative elections here this year. The next year would have been a lot different.) 

A couple of things worth noting from Virginia:

– Health care was a big issue. And the one thing voters knew about Northam was that he’s a doctor.

– Voters under 30 went for Northam by 40 points. These are voters who’ve known only two Presidents – Obama and Trump. 

So my email is full of messages from Democrats celebrating Tuesday. They see a toxic stew brewing for  the GOP – rejection of Trump and Trumpism and a backlash against racism and bigotry, stirred in with a Republican agenda that takes away health care and raises taxes, and, in Raleigh, a level of greed, power-grabbing and corruption never seen before. 

That’s three juicy targets to pick from: Trump, Republican policies and Republican corruption.

But Democrats have our own problems. The Hillary-Bernie fight goes on. The centrist-leftist fight goes on. As the Raleigh mayor’s race showed, racial tensions smolder.

It’s like I told Carter about a possible Democratic wave in 2018.  “Don’t worry.  We’ve got a whole year to screw it up. And we’ve got some of our best people working on it.”

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