Newt Gingrich: In state legislative races, red tsunami replaced blue wave that never came

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A funny thing happened on the way to the blue wave. It disappeared.

Former President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder had spent years raising money to win the fight for Democratic victories in state legislative elections, so Democrats could gerrymander the U.S. House for the next decade.

Lisa Nelson, the head of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) estimates that Democrats outspent Republicans by at least 3-to-1 in state legislative races.


The left-wing propaganda media spent months talking about the coming blue wave and the crushing of the GOP in an anti-Trump tide.

The big Internet companies censored conservatives and Republicans with greater and greater frequency as the Nov. 3 election came closer.

Yet when the elections for state legislatures were over, the Republicans had created a populist, grassroots tsunami that defeated the Democrats and set the stage for a decade of creativity at the state level.

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Republicans now have a majority in both houses of 31 states and have the state Senate in Minnesota. Minnesota is the only state with split control of the Legislature and is a good example of the frustration Democrats are feeling after their blue wave evaporated. The state’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party spent $18 million trying to win the state Senate and came up empty.

The Democrats have legislative control in only 18 states.

Further, Republicans control the legislatures and governorships in 23 states, with roughly 136 million residents. By contrast the Democrats only control the legislature and governorships in 15 states with 120 million people (more than 39 million of them in California).

Republicans control the legislature in seven states with Democratic governors, while Democrats only control the legislature in three states with Republican governors.

Some of the local contests were even more vividly one-sided in favor of the red tsunami.

I just did a fascinating podcast with Edith Jorge-Tuñón, the political director of the Republican State Leadership Committee (one of my favorite GOP organizations because of its effectiveness per dollar spent). She cited Iowa and Texas as two great case studies of the failure of the Democrats to create a blue wave.

Iowa was enormously competitive at every level this year. The Democrats’ effort to defeat Republican Sen. Joni Ernst was massive (and failed). In U.S. House races, the Republicans gained one decisively and kept the seat they already had. The Democrats dropped from three seats to one. In the last district, as I write, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks is ahead by six votes in the closest election for the House since 1984.

Meanwhile, the Democrats spent millions of dollars in Iowa, but Republicans were able to flip six state legislative seats, half of which were in the Des Moines metropolitan area, the largest in the state (it covers Des Moines six surrounding counties). All three of the districts gained in the Des Moines area were suburban and 100 percent within the Des Moines metro area.

In Texas — the second-most populous state in the country and a state that Democrats convince themselves every two years they are about to win (remember Beto O’Rourke and his massively expensive Senate campaign against Ted Cruz?) — Democrats were sure they’d have a shot at the suburban seats in major metro areas such as Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.


When the campaign was over, Democrats faced an epic failure. They spent millions of dollars to net zero seats. Republicans held the line in all but one seat, nine of which were O’Rourke wins in 2018. Furthermore, Republicans picked up one seat from the Democrats. So, after all their effort, the Democrats had to regard this campaign as an enormous waste of money.

The red tsunami was created because the American people rejected the radicalism of the Democrats. A new generation of Republican candidates brought new energy, ideas and supporters to the GOP.

In Georgia, Republicans elected their first Latino state senator, Jason Anavitarte. In Kansas, Republicans elected the youngest woman to the state Senate, Kristen O’Shea. In Ohio, Republicans elected their first Indian American state senator, Niraj Antani.

In Arizona, Republican women candidates had a 60 percent success rate and made up about 36 percent of the total Republican winners.


In the U.S. House, the impact of women candidates was enormous. In an upcoming podcast I am interviewing Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who led the effort to recruit and elect the largest number of House Republican congresswomen in history.

Every Republican can take some confidence in these tumultuous times that at the grassroots and in the states there is a Republican tsunami building that is going to overwhelm the imagined blue wave and create dynamic opportunities in 2021 and 2022.

To read, hear, and watch more of Newt Gingrich’s commentary, visit Gingrich


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