For many, Donald Trump’s win was a repudiation to the establishment in Washington and in many ways it was. I underestimated the economic anxiety faced by so many who felt neither party was looking out for their interests. Trump cut through a lot of beltway nonsense and spoke directly to people that had a noticeable impact. Conservatives cannot shrug off Trump winning Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania as just a fluke. The latter three have not been won by Republicans since the 1980’s.
It was a tremendous deal.
That said, to dismiss the notion of any establishment success is to whistle past the graveyard.
The establishment did just fine on election night. Consider the Senate and several states Donald Trump won over Hillary Clinton.
In Arizona, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton 49% to 45%. John McCain won his reelection bid over Ann Kirkpatrick, 54% to 41%.
In Wisconsin, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton 47.9% to 46.9%. Ron Johnson won his race over Russ Feingold 50.2% to 46.8%.
In Ohio, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton 52% to 44%. Rob Portman defeated Ted Strickland 58% to 37%.
In Florida, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton 49% to 47.8%. Marco Rubio won his reelection over Patrick Murphy 52% to 44%.
In those four states, Donald Trump’s average margin of victory was 3.5%. For the Senators, their average margin of victory was 12%.
Speaker of The House, Paul Ryan, who Sean Hannity laughingly said would not be Speaker in January (the hiring of Wisconsin ally Reince Priebus as Trump’s Chief of Staff effectively put that Hannity fantasy to bed), won his general election race by 35 percentage points. This comes after a near 70 point demolition of joke primary candidate Paul Nehlan.
The lesson to draw here is the electorate wanted change at the top. It was a change election. But the results also tell us people are pragmatic. McCain and Portman won big despite their often harsh criticism of Donald Trump.
What this means is, the GOP has two years (assuming the Democrats were to win the Senate in 2018) to doing some big things.
I am cautiously optimistic.