Democrats nail down their blue wall — and Electoral College math — for 2024
If breaking up blue-wall states came at Trump’s own expense in 2016, so did his reshuffle this week, as Democrats handily kicked out candidates endorsed by the former president.
What’s more, Democratic wins in Arizona and Georgia — where incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly leads Blake Masters in the Senate race and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Republican Herschel Walker are headed for runoffs — further bolster the party’s improved College Math over 2024. After Tuesday, the reinvigorated Democratic coalition that has turned out its base and won over contingent voters in these states looks increasingly resilient.
Perhaps nowhere was that more evident than in Wisconsin, where Democrats not only denied the GOP a large majority in the state House, but where incumbent Tony Evers fended off a challenge from Trump-endorsed Tim Michels. Evers became the first Democratic governor since 1962 to win Wisconsin in a midterm year while a Democrat served in the White House.
While there was one notable exception to the good night for Democrats in the state — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) rejected a Democratic challenge to win a third term — the party left the state with well-founded confidence in its prospects in the 2024 presidential race.
“Trump came into office in 2016 blowing a hole in the blue wall,” Wisconsin Democratic Chairman Ben Wikler told POLITICO on Wednesday. “Gov. Evers and [Michigan] Gov. [Gretchen] Whitmer began to rebuild that wall. And now, at the moment of greatest danger with a Democratic president, the wall is solid. It is a historic and profoundly consequential victory for democracy.”
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman scored key gubernatorial and senatorial victories in the key 2024 state, ousting Trump-backer Doug Mastrian and Mehmet Oz.
And in Michigan — a battleground state that Trump in 2016 became the first Republican to carry since 1988 — Democrats secured victories in the races for governor, attorney general and secretary of state. They also flipped the Michigan Senate for the first time in nearly 40 years.
“The fact that we have a state in the Midwest — it’s probably one of the most important battleground states in the country — that now has the Democratic trifecta for the first time in almost 40 years going into 2024, that just changes everything,” said Sen. of Michigan Mallory McMorrow, who raised millions of dollars on the back of a viral speech, the money she committed to help bring back the Republican-controlled Legislature.
To win, Democrats like McMorrow in the Rust Belt won the culture wars and successfully turned away what she called “normal voters.”
Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary and former 2020 presidential candidate who rose to national prominence in December 2016. charting the manifesto so Democrats can reclaim the country that flew over, he said his party has since refined its messaging to Rust Belt voters.
“I think there’s been a lot of growth,” Buttigieg, who campaigned in Michigan last week, told POLITICO in an interview in suburban Detroit last week. “I think that’s part of the reason why Michigan’s and Wisconsin’s results were different from 2016 to 2020. But I think there’s more to be done before people fully hear the ways in which we’re best aligned with the values of the middle of the country. ”
Even in Ohio, where Democratic Senate hopeful Tim Ryan lost to JD Vance, his swing boosted fellow Rust Belt Democrats like Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who won by double digits. Ryan, Ohio Democratic Party Chairwoman Elizabeth Walters said Wednesday, “ran one of the best races Ohio has ever seen.”
In another sign of a boost map for Democrats, several officials in Rust Belt states have survived a forbidding political environment for their party. Among them were representatives Susan Wild of Pennsylvania and Angie Craig of Minnesota.
Wins in some contested Rust Belt states remove a potential roadblock for the party in 2024, said David Pepper, a former Ohio Democratic Party chairman.
“These states are important institutionally,” Pepper said, “because now you have people who are going to oversee the election in a way that we can trust.”
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