To start with the caveats: New Jersey and Virginia, where the Democrats won big victories in gubernatorial elections on Tuesday night, were already blue-leaning states. In last year’s Presidential election, both voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Elsewhere on Tuesday, as Trump pointed out on Twitter from South Korea, the G.O.P. did win four elections to the House of Representatives, including a tightly fought race in Kansas. And across the country there was little evidence that Trump’s core supporters—white voters without college degrees—abandoned the Republican Party. In Virginia, the exit poll showed Ed Gillespie, the defeated G.O.P. candidate, getting seventy-two per cent support in this group—practically the same as what Trump got last year.
So, Trumpism didn’t collapse on Tuesday. It did get a bloody nose, however. And, for many Democrats, the Trump backlash that was evident from Maine to Virginia raised hopes of a much bigger victory in next year’s midterm elections. If the Party can build on Tuesday’s results to seize control of Congress in 2018, it would leave Trump, at best, as a lame duck, and, quite possibly, as a President facing impeachment.
Of course, next November is a long way off—that’s another caveat. But Democratic leaders think that they have hit on a replicable winning strategy: to turn every election into a vote about Trump and what he stands for. “This was a referendum on American values,” Tom Perez, the head of the Democratic National Committee, said, as the results came in from Virginia.