Democrats Win Big in Elections Seen as Trump Litmus Test, Stirring Republican Unease

Republican lawmaker implores the president to engage in 'self-reflection' following the results, coming a year after Trump's election and before congressional elections

US President Donald Trump addresses the National Assembly in Seoul on November 8, 2017.
LAURENT FIEVET LEE JIN-MAN/AFP

Exactly one year after U.S. President Donald Trump's electoral victory in November 2016, the Democratic Party won a number of important local elections Tuesday night, creating concern among Republican politicians ahead of the 2018 midterm congressional elections to be held a year from today.

The central Democratic victory came in Virginia, where candidate for governor, Ralph Northam, defeated his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie by 9 percent - the largest Virginia Democratic win in three decades. The Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, also won, becoming the first African-American Lt. Governor in the state's history. The party also achieved significant gains in many district elections across the state, nearly controlling the state's House of Delegates. 

In New Jersey's gubernatorial elections, A Democratic win put an end to eight years of Republican control of the state governor's mansion. Democrat Phil Murphy will be the state's next governor, and his lieutenant will be Democrat Sheila Oliver. Their victories give Democrats full control of New Jersey's local government. 

Democrats also scored in mayoral elections across the country, from an unsurprising victory by Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York City to more politically significant victories in towns and cities located in "swing states" like New Hampshire and Florida. 

In Maine, voters overwhelmingly approved a plan to expand the state's Medicaid eligibility, a measure strongly supported by the local Democratic party and opposed by Maine's governor Paul LePage, a Republican. Some speculate the result could have a national impact on Republican party efforts to deconstruct President Obama's health care law.

In the hours prior to the results' publication, two Republican members of Congress, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey and Texas' Ted Poe, announced they will retire at the end of 2018 and not run for another term in Congress. So far, more than 20 Republican lawmakers have made such announcements in recent months. Tuesday night's results are expected to increase this trend as concern over the 2018 midterm elections grows.

Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA), a member of Congress who strongly supported Trump in 2016, summed up the mood within the Republican camp by stating that the elections Tuesday were "a referendum on the administration," calling on President Trump to engage in "self-reflection."