Verdict from Election Night 2019: Trump’s Slow Smothering of GOP Continues

Verdict from Election Night 2019: Trump’s Slow Smothering of GOP Continues


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Another off-year election came and went Tuesday, another night that that–although he might not have been on the ballot–it was clear that Donald Trump’s slow strangulation of the Republican party continues apace.

The marquee result of the evening might have come in Kentucky, where Democrat Andy Beshear defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, but the larger and national implications of that victory for Democrats overall appear less clear.

For instance, Trump retains popularity in the Bluegrass State and while Beshear won, so did a new conservative Republican state attorney general seen by many as Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s heir apparent.

Where the story of Trump’s inexorable homicide of the Republican party probably can be best told is in all of the state legislative races in Virginia’s suburbs and exurbs on the doorstep of Washington DC.

Republicans dominated many of these seats for decades, enabling them to hold solid majorities in both legislative chambers in Richmond, even as Democrats assumed the governor’s office.

No more. Republicans were finally driven from their majorities Tuesday, enabling Democrats to assume full control for the first time in a generation.

This political swing was fueled by changes in the suburbs, motivated in no small measure by voter disgust in Trump, his policies and behavior.

“I’m not too thrilled with the direction the Republican Party is taking our country,” David Goodwin, 41, a tech salesman who leans Democratic but often crosses party lines, told The Washington Post after voting a straight Democratic ticket in Leesburg.

“What the last national election taught me was party doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot,” he said. “You’ve got to look at the person.”

Brandy Lloyd, 50, a tech worker, told The Post that she, too, voted a Democratic ticket although she usually supports Republicans. “But seeing what’s happening in Washington, I think it’s time for a change,” she said.

What happened this year in Virginia is merely a further reflection of the phenomenon which fueled the Democratic takeover of the US House of Representatives.

“This is an overwhelming Trump phenomenon,” a gloomy Republican strategist told a Post reporter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment of the party’s plight. “Trump has accelerated everything. There is no path in a swing, suburban district for a Republican — male, female or minority. … It’s not a challenge, it’s a hill. … There’s no strategy to climb it.”

As a direct result of Donald Trump, the Republican party have disappeared from the nation’s suburbs and truly will be solely a regional party of rural America.

That doesn’t sound like much of a growth future, does it?

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