The Original BJ wrote:As disappointing as the results in TX and GA (and maybe AZ) were, the optimistic read is that Republicans should be pretty scared of the narrow outcomes in all three. These are states that seem to have been "on the cusp" of turning blue for a while, that could very well be legitimate swing states in the next election -- assuming the upper Midwest reversion to its Democratic mean lasts, that's going to force Republicans to play defense in a lot of places it's used to having in the bag.
When people speak of the advancing demographics that will favor Democrats as time goes on, it's states like these three you note that they have in mind (along with some that have already moved into lean-blue territory, like NV and CO). GA and AZ were in fact pretty close in the 2016 election -- Hillary lost GA by 5% and AZ by only 3.5% -- but Dems have struggled up till now to make a similar showing in statewide races. Here, though, you have Sinema with a lead as outstanding ballots have come in, and Abrams behind by a miniscule 1.6%. The fact that Abrams didn't run the way Michelle Nunn did a few years back ("I'm really kind of Republican, honest") but as full-fledged Dem makes her showing even more impressive.
Texas, though, has been the truly tough nut to crack. The state has a significant minority population and has seemed for years like it ought to be trending blue, but GOPers have been routinely scoring 55-60% of the vote in statewide races. Until Tuesday. Beto's 2.6% loss-margin is breathtakingly close -- a quantum leap over what Dems have managed to now. (And he apparently made a big difference down-ballot, bringing along House members, State reps and judges in the urban areas.) It may be that he's a truly one-of-a-kind candidate and this won't be replicated -- but maybe not. Maybe he's just finally found the key that party folk have been seeking for a decade or more. Note: when Obama carried Virginia in 2008, LBJ in 1964 had been the only Dem since Truman to take the state (most Republicans had been winning the state easily). But it wasn't a one-off: Dems have now carried the state solidly in two subsequent elections, and Tim Kaine won re-election by a landslide. It's such a blue state at this point, one barely remembers how recently it wasn't. Maybe Texas can travel a similar route.
Which, for Republicans, would be death. Texas is the only EV-rich state the Pubs have been able to count on in recent years. There are plenty of big boppers they compete for -- GA, NC, OH, FL of course. But TX is the only one they've been able to take for granted. Take it away, and they're in dire shape. Consider this: Trump could pull off his improbable WI/MI/PA parley in 2016 -- but if TX had gone the other way, Hillary would have won the College. Simply moving the state to swing status -- alongside FL, NC, OH, all states that have been carried by more than one party in the past three elections -- would make the GOP task massively more difficult.
By the way, wave update: It's now almost definitively a wave, with late-breaking calls leaving Dems looking at something like 37 House seats, maybe even 40; with Sinema looking very possible to take AZ Senate; and with FL numbers getting so crazy close that a hand recount will have to be done, which might uncover issues in Broward count that could reverse the Senate call (and even conceivably rescue Gillum). It's possible we'll end this process with Dems losing only one Senate seat -- which, given the map they faced, would be outstanding. Nate Silver notes tonight that some pundits will need to revise the analyses they hastily wrote between 8 and 9 PM ET on Tuesday and have been clinging to since.