The victory of Donald Trump for the presidency and the continued Republican control of the House and Senate is only part of the story of the Democratic Party’s total demise.
Expected to make modest gains in state legislatures across the country, the Democrats instead lost governorships, lost two state legislative chambers, and now have total control of only five states — the fewest number in their history.
Perhaps the loudest bell tolling for the death of the Democrats is in Kentucky, where Republicans gained control of the state Senate for the first time in a century. This means that for the first time in history, there is not a single state legislative chamber controlled by Democrats in the old Confederacy.
In the Electoral College, where Republicans took six of the ten biggest prizes for the first time since the Reagan years, Democrats should no longer be considered a national party. They are, at best, a coastal party with a few liberal enclaves — mostly college towns like Madison, WI, and Austin, TX — in between.
In the great middle of the country, they have disappeared.
Republicans not only picked up the Kentucky House and the Iowa Senate but unseated the top Democratic leaders in both those chambers, Kentucky Speaker Greg Stumbo and Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal.
Republicans also appeared to have picked up the two seats they needed to take control of the Minnesota Senate, although two races appear to be heading to recounts.
The Kentucky House was the last chamber controlled by Democrats in the South.
“This is just Kentucky catching up with the South and the Midwest,” said Stephen Voss, a political scientist at the University of Kentucky. “The puzzle is not how the Republicans took over. The puzzle is how Democrats were able to hold out here so much longer than they did in the surrounding states.”
Their gains in Iowa and Kentucky mean the GOP has won the trifecta in those states, controlling the governorship and both legislative chambers. Results are still pending in some chambers, but next year Republicans will control all the political branches of state government in fully half the states.
That number now includes Missouri and New Hampshire, where the GOP defended its legislative majorities and won the governorships.
“I’ve got to tell you, it’s a beautiful day to be a Republican in the great state of New Hampshire,” state party chair Jennifer Horn told an election night crowd.
Democrats, by contrast, now have total control of just California, Delaware, Hawaii, Oregon and Rhode Island.
Republicans tied up the Delaware Senate, but newly-elected Democratic Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long will break that tie.
Republicans also pulled off a tie in the state Senate in Connecticut, formerly a Democratic trifecta state. The victory by GOP Lt. Gov. Phil Scott in the Vermont governor’s race puts a Republican check on Democratic power there as well.
On paper, Democrats now control Washington state, but state Sen. Tim Sheldon will continue to caucus with the GOP, continuing the Republican Party’s narrow control of the state Senate.
Now, it’s up to the few rational Democrats left to determine whether there is a resurrection. Or will the radical left be allowed to double down and continue its assault on the culture, basic American values, and simple human decency.
But before Republicans start celebrating the Democrats’ demise, they have the little matter of resolving a civil war that could still result in the GOP spinning off one or more parties. The test will come during Donald Trump’s first term. How many NeverTrump Republicans will give the new president and his supporters in Congress what they want?
The Trumpers have been handed the keys to the kingdom. Will they use them to govern? Or will their newly won power be used in a futile attempt to punish their enemies in and out of the GOP?
With the Democrats in a hyper-weakened state, Republicans have an opportunity that comes along only once every couple of generations — to put their imprint on history and create a governing structure reflective of conservative principles and values.
Please, God, don’t let them screw it up.