Editorial: The Best From the Midterm Elections

  • Jed Bush, 24, left, of Washington, a Hill staffer, Maria Praeli, 25, a DACA recipient, and Katie Aragon, 26, react to Democratic wins in the House of Representatives, during a Democratic party election night returns event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

With apologies to Pharrell Williams, we’re happy — not ecstatic, but happy — with the results of Tuesday’s midterm elections. Results are still pending in a number of contests and there may be several challenges or recounts, but with most of the precincts reporting, here’s what we can clap along with now.

■The most important result is the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives. Republicans have controlled the House for eight years, and for the last two have abjectly failed in their constitutional responsibility to provide checks and balances to the president’s power. That will change. While Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader in the House who could regain the post of speaker, has indicated that she does not intend to put the impeachment of President Donald Trump on the schedule, Trump’s political opponents soon will have subpoena power — which means his murky financial, personal and political dealings are likely to undergo the long-delayed congressional scrutiny they deserve.

■Democrats also captured the governor’s mansion in seven states — Illinois, New Mexico, Michigan, Maine, Kansas, Nevada and Wisconsin — with the race in Georgia too close to call and possibly headed to a runoff in December. Despite defeats in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio and Iowa, the victories elsewhere put Democratic governors in position to influence important state policies, such as Medicaid expansion and education funding. More important, most of these new Democratic governors will play an important role in the redrawing of congressional maps after the 2020 census, which we hope will result in corrections to some of the widespread partisan gerrymandering that violates the principle of one person, one vote.

■More than 100 women are projected to win seats in the House of Representatives where, according to The Washington Post, women have never held more than 84 of the 435 seats. Diverse and overwhelmingly Democratic, Tuesday’s winners include Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan, the first Muslim women elected to Congress. In New Mexico and Kansas, Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids will be the first Native American women to serve in the House. Massachusetts is getting its first black congresswoman, Ayanna Pressley, and 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Additionally, 12 women will join the Senate, 10 Democrats and two Republicans, according to projections. It is our wish that Tuesday’s vote inspires more women and minorities to run for seats in a Congress that sorely needs their voices.

■And speaking of voices that need to be heard, two Twin State races helped raise the political profile of the LGBTQ community. While Christine Hallquist’s bid in the Vermont gubernatorial campaign fell short, her role as the first transgender woman to be nominated for governor by a major party was a watershed and proved to be an inspiration to transgender citizens in Vermont and across the country. In New Hampshire, 1st Congressional District candidate Chris Pappas, a Democrat from Manchester, defeated Republican Eddie Edwards to become the Granite State’s first openly gay congressman.

■We also note the welcome surge in participation by young voters. Early exit polls show that voters age 18 to 29 likely will account for 13 percent of the electorate nationally, compared with 11 percent in 2014. Strikingly, more than 3.3 million voters from this age group cast early ballots — a 188 percent jump from 2014, according to the political data analysis firm TargetSmart. In the Upper Valley, more than 800 Dartmouth students hopped aboard a free shuttle to the polls on Tuesday, part of an 11-state effort to mobilize young voters. And young people weren’t just voting, they were running: 20-year-old Dartmouth student Garrett Muscatel garnered 5,582 votes to win election to the New Hampshire House representing Hanover and Lyme, and recent Woodsville High School graduate Denny Ruprecht won his race for a House seat representing Haverhill.

■We applaud the voters of Hartford, who really couldn’t have been more clear (774-246) about their desire to see the state of Vermont stop any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, such as pipelines, and to commit to ambitious renewable energy targets. Kudos, also, to voters in Norwich, who overwhelmingly approved (1,575-400) the resurrection of a revolving reserve fund to support the creation of affordable housing in town.

■Voter turnout was expected to be high, and it was. According to an initial estimate from Edison Research, some 113 million Americans voted on Tuesday — 49 percent of the total eligible population. While it remains unfathomable to us that an election with this much at stake saw more than half the eligible voters stay away, it is still a record for a U.S. midterm. We’ll take it and expect even better in 2020.