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Orange turns blue by @BloggersRUs

Orange turns blue

by Tom Sullivan

Panic is almost palpable, and not just in tweets from the White House residence. Red Texas is trending purple. Orange County, California is turning blue.

The Associated Press Thursday night reported Democrat Katie Porter flipped another Republican-held seat in what was once Reagan country. The latest count in the vote tally for the 45th District race places Porter at 51 percent, more than 6,000 votes ahead of Republican Rep. Mimi Walters:

Porter, 44, campaigned on an unabashed liberal agenda and in direct opposition to President Donald Trump’s priorities: She advocates overturning his tax reform package, supports universal health care, and endorses mandatory background checks on all gun sales and a ban on so-called assault-style weapons.
In Orange County, California.

Walters had been hoping to lead the House Republicans' campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Elsewhere in Orange County, Democrat Gil Cisneros leads Republican Young Kim by nearly 1,000 votes in the 39th District race. California allows mail-in ballots to arrive until the Friday after election day. Ballots postmarked by November 6th will still count, wildfires permitting.

Slate's Elliot Hannon observes the 39th District race that stood at 57-43 for Kim on election night has trended in the Democrat's direction since then. Election night calls by the media are not what matter. Votes do. That's why we count them.

The shift in the county of over three million southeast of Los Angeles is a sea change, Politico reports:

Walters' loss means the GOP is danger of not having a single representative in Congress from Orange County, a former Republican stronghold once home to Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Democrat Harley Rouda on Saturday claimed victory in the race for the county's 48th congressional district, unseating 15-term incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
Texas may not have elected Beto O'Rourke to replace Sen. Ted Cruz or picked up the governorship, but Democrats had other gains, and they matter. Republicans' margins across the state fell from an average of 23 points to seven:
In races for the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats also did much better. They held the 11 seats that they won in 2016, including two open seats. Of the 25 seats that the Republicans won in 2016, Democrats were able to defeat two incumbents, Pete Sessions and John Culberson, and one race remains too close to call. In 2016, the Democrats did not even bother to field a candidate in eight of these districts, including the one held by Sessions.

Among all 25 races, the Democrats did, on average, 27 points better. Setting aside the two seats that flipped and the one race that is too close to call, nine Democratic candidates kept the Republican victory margin to fewer than 10 points. Of those, four races were within five points. Some of these closest races were on everyone’s radar screen, such as M.J. Hegar’s challenge to John Carter, but few thought that Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was in any real danger.

As Texas cities have grown, Texas has diversified. "What suburbia giveth it also taketh away," Michael Hendrix writes at National Review, remembering a time before the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts when Republicans were rare in Fort Bend County, west of Houston. Hillary Clinton was the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to carry Fort Bend:
And it was from counties such as Fort Bend that a blue tide washed over Texas in 2018. It swept outward from the Democratic urban cores into neighboring suburban counties of Austin, Dallas, and Houston, flipping Republican bastions or turning them several shades pinker. Once-safe Republicans, such as Dallas’s Pete Sessions and Houston’s John Culberson, were taken out in its wake. The Republican carnage was felt down-ballot too, in the all-important state judicial and legislative races that stock each party’s farm team. And while the entire slate of statewide Repub­licans was returned to office, many candidates, such as Senator Ted Cruz, won with anemic margins.
Mark Jones, a professor in the the Department of Political Science at Rice University, tells the New York Times' Thomas Edsall:
It is premature to say that Texas is turning blue, but whereas four years ago its hue was dark red, today it is light pink. As long as President Trump is in the White House, Republicans in Texas can look forward to much tougher battles from higher quality and better funded Democratic challengers than they faced prior to 2018, as well as being required to do something that most Republican candidates have not had to do for years in Texas; actually work up a sweat in the fall.
Edsall has a long review (recommended) of trends in Texas showing Republican dominance there in decline. Some of that is a product of demographic trends. What Beto O'Rourke did in 2018 (with an assist from Donald Trump) was defibrillate moribund Democratic committees and infuse them with new energy. By showing them how to campaign in places Democrats feared to tread, he laid the groundwork for making Texas once again a two-party state.

Austin-based freelance journalist Christopher Hooks met O'Rourke in a Lubbock hotel bar in July. O'Rourke explained the effect he hoped his campaign might have:

He would go to places Democrats don’t go, engage people in a politics that was collaborative, spontaneous and felt good, and hope that it gave them tools and encouragement to keep going after he was done. The success of that project was dependent on O’Rourke doing well enough, and proving the haters wrong. He did. Only time will tell what the race left behind. But according to his own terms — and let’s use a damn cuss here, in tribute to the man — it looks like he knocked it out of the fuckin’ park.
Demography is not destiny. This country may be trending towards having a permanent Democratic majority in the U.S. House. But unless progressives plan on removing the Great Compromise from the national constitution anytime soon, a permanent Republican majority in the Senate is a possibility too, with all that implies for the future of the Supreme Court and democracy.

Democrats have to compete everywhere. They can, if they will. Democrats in Idaho picked up three seats in the Idaho House and one in Senate last week, with another Democratic state senate win pending a recount. The Republican incumbent holds a lead by six votes.

If that's not enough to make Republicans nervous, special counsel Robert Mueller is still out there and it's news-dump Friday.