Froma Harrop: Partisan lines fade with the right candidates

Froma Harrop: Partisan lines fade with the right candidates

{{featured_button_text}}

I think Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards meant it when he partly credited his reelection to LSU's and the Saints' winning season. That would be the football teams — Louisiana State University and the New Orleans Saints.

"People are just in a better mood," the Democrat said. And he did have LSU coach Ed Orgeron vouching for him.

Edwards pulled off a narrow win against a Republican whom President Donald Trump tried mightily to drag into the end zone. Trump was in Bossier City two days before and beseeched his MAGA crowd by saying, "You've got to give me a big win, OK?" (In 2016, Trump took Louisiana by 20 points.)

Similar story in Kentucky, where Trump rallies failed to deliver a win for incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Democrat Andy Beshear won by only a hair but in a state where Trump scored a 30-point margin.

Well, what were these Democratic victories in the South and the Deep South about? They were partly about several things.

One is that Trump's magic sauce for energizing his base seems to have lost some potency. And after nearly three years of Trumpian mayhem, he's energizing voters in the far less friendly cities and suburbs.

But perhaps the deciding factor is that Americans tend to resist efforts by the major parties to nationalize state and local races.

Edwards seemed to be focusing on the issues voters cared about, picking this from column A and that from column B. He raised spending on education and expanded Medicaid coverage, two Democratic causes. But he was far more hostile to abortion and gun control than his party's mainstream.

Voters are obviously willing to cross partisan lines in state and local elections. And that's not the case only for Democrats in red territory.

Three of deep blue New England's six states have Republican governors -- Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. Add to the list liberal Maryland. Their voters tend to be fiscal conservatives and social liberals, and so do their Republican governors.

Successful blue state Republicans steer clear of the ugly chaos in Trump's Washington just as Democrats in red states ignore the bonfires consuming left-wing Twitter.

That's how Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock got reelected in red Montana by 4 points on the same Election Day Trump took the state by 20. Two years later, another Montana Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester, won reelection — and after Trump visited the state four times to rally support for Tester's Republican opponent.

All this talk about the Democrats' moving to the left belies the reality that the party's resurgence has come from the center. The Democrats' impressive House majority came not from a handful of radicals winning super safe Democratic districts but from moderates who yanked 40 seats from Republicans.

Former President Barack Obama recently emerged from his silence to remind Democrats of this, warning them to look past "the activist wing" of the party. Don't assume that the American people want to "tear down the system," he said. And it is delusional to believe that the voting masses are waiting for something "bold enough" to rev their engines.

Of course, he's right, and this advice isn't just useful for liberals. A Democrat now sits in the Kansas governor's mansion in large part because her Republican predecessor, Sam Brownback, had nearly bankrupted the state with radical and reckless tax cuts. Notably, her Republican opponent, then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, campaigned by tying himself to Trump, wrists and ankles.

Could it be that Americans are not quite as politically tribal as we are told? When it comes to state and local elections, it would seem not — and that should apply to national elections as well.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

0
0
0
0
0

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

In today's information age, the average person can empower himself or herself with knowledge like never before. But there is one notable exception: Most Americans have no idea what a health care service costs before they get it. If we expect to lower health care costs, that must change. Companies in every other industry compete for consumers on the basis of cost and quality. Decisions made by ...

Republicans and Democrats disagree on just about every point being made during the impeachment inquiry triggered by President Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Yet on the central facts of the case, there is essentially no dispute. That's why the process is hurtling forward at a velocity that seems remarkable to George Washington University law professor ...

Once again Iranians have flooded their country's streets to participate in widespread protests sparked by gasoline price hikes, only to be met by a brutal crackdown. But clearly the unrest was about more than the price of gas, reflecting deeper frustration and anger over the general economic malaise caused by a corrupt, repressive government and punishing U.S. sanctions. During the protests, ...

"Thank you for your service." Our troops hear that often from their fellow Americans, and not just during the holiday season. Well, our gratitude can go even deeper. We can also be thankful that they are not fighting "endless wars." Calls for "no more endless wars" may be catchy, but they're a bumper-stick excuse for a serious foreign policy. Sure, there are many intractable conflicts around ...

Whenever there is a mass shooting, two questions are repeated in the news and social media: Did the shooter have a history of mental illness? And why weren't warning signs identified earlier? These questions reflect the barriers to better mental health care. Questioning whether the shooter ever had mental illness reinforces the false idea that some people experience mental illness while the ...

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alert

Breaking News