Jeff Van Drew survives the party flip

Last month I asked if anyone could survive changing parties in the current political climate. The specific focus of the discussion was on Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey’s second congressional district. As you will recall, he abandoned the Democratic Party last December, registering as a Republican and becoming an immediate favorite of President Trump. This led to a predictable level of outrage among New Jersey Democrats and a well-funded push to expel him from office. The last rounds of polling in the Atlantic City area pegged his race as a nail-biter that was starting to trend against Van Drew, particularly since he was running against a member of the Kennedy Clan. But as with so many other particulars of the 2020 cycle, the pollsters got it wrong yet again. Van Drew has cruised to a fairly comfortable win and flipped the district back to the red column. (

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who switched to the Republican party and embraced President Donald Trump after voting against impeaching him, has won re-election in New Jersey’s hottest congressional race. The race was called by The Associated Press.

Van Drew, R-2nd Dist., defeated educator Amy Kennedy, a member of the iconic Democratic political family.

The Associated Press called the race Friday after the news service awaited vote-counts to come in. Van Drew had declared victory on Election Day but Kennedy did not concede then, saying she could still win.

To be clear, Van Drew didn’t win this thing in a blowout, but his more than six-point margin was enough for the Associated Press to call the race last night. Kennedy still hasn’t officially conceded, but there don’t appear to be enough outstanding mail-in ballots to tip things back in her favor.

This was never going to be an easy race for either party. The Second District in the Garden State has been solidly purple for a while now. It went for Obama in 2012 (fairly narrowly) before flipping back in Donald Trump’s favor in 2016. Apparently, there was still enough of that Trump magic in play in Atlantic City for the district’s Republicans to embrace someone who had very recently been sleeping in the enemy’s tent.

But this race might also have been yet another indicator of a larger trend across the country. The Democrats were expecting a blue wave to wash over the nation and expand their majority in the House while seizing control of the Senate. Instead, Nancy Pelosi grimly watched her caucus lose seats this year and the Democrats’ hopes of taking over Mitch McConnell’s Majority Leader office are fading quickly. That could still change, depending on the results of the Georgia run-offs and one or two races that have yet to be called, but the smart money seems to be on the GOP holding onto the Senate.

So how did that happen if Donald Trump actually winds up losing? There was clearly more ticket-splitting going on further down the ballot in many states than we’re used to seeing. Donald Trump has been a totally disruptive figure in terms of business-as-usual in the swamp, and not everyone likes disruption. But that doesn’t mean that the entire country was ready to join the Woke Parade, either. If anything, I’m finding some reasons to be encouraged by the results in many of these House and Senate races, at least in terms of people still being willing to think independently and not go along with the herd mentality we’ve seen far too often. I believe that in two years we’ll get a much better read on how much of this maverick thinking is still alive when Trump isn’t on the ballot, whether he’s still in the White House or not.

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