We Got a D on Our Midterms, So We Passed. Final Exam in Two Years.

My Key Takeaways from The 2018 Midterms

Rajiv Satyal
7 min readNov 7, 2018


  • DEMS IN DA HOUSE. This has, by far, the most implications for the near future. It looks like Democrats will pick up 34 seats in the House, which was precisely what I predicted. Maybe I should trust my Flaming Pie visions more.
  • If all goes according to plan, we’re now at halftime of the Trump Nightmare. I’ll drink to that. (I did last night.)
  • We flipped 29 Republican seats and Republicans only a few Democratic seats. And we flipped 19 of those by a significant 4+ points.
  • Out of the 114 million votes cast for the House, Democrats won 4.2 million+ more (and counting). Out of the 80 million votes cast for the Senate, Democrats also won 12 million more votes (and counting).
  • It still pains me that we think of the other side as the enemy. As my friend, Taylor Alexander​, pointed out last night, this is intramurals. Since Taylor and I did a musical/political/comedy tour last year, I’ll quote Lorde. “We’re on each other’s team.” But hey, they started it. (OK, that just sounded like I’m back on the playground as a tattletale.)
  • I would’ve loved a more lopsided victory, but a W is a W. The main thing is there’s a check on unfettered power. That’s good news for both my Democrat friends and for my Republican friends. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, it’s good for the long-term health of OUR country.
  • Democrats were up against voter suppression, foreign interference (yes, still), and gerrymandering, not to mention the structural inequities they face — the lack of early voting in all places, etc.
  • In Florida, we got the good news that felons can vote. (Of course, they already run the White House. Hey-Oh!)
  • We stop the Donald J. Trump​ legislative agenda, to the extent that there was one. Yes, he can continue to F up the judiciary, but there’ll be no more terrible legislation; his Executive Orders can be reversed by the next President.
  • The diversity — especially women and LGBTQIA* — is amazing.
  • The divide in the country is even deeper — deeper than it was before and deeper than we thought it was. It’s almost like we flipped a Bee Gee’s song. “How Deep Is Your Hate?” It’s not a stunning rebuke and Democrats have to ensure they don’t overplay their hand. The concern is that Democrats are generally great at stealing defeat from the jaws of victory, and so they may lose the hearts and minds of Americans if they overstep. Trump is also a master of the media and can drive public opinion from the bully pulpit, so it’s key we stay calm and focused when investigating him. We have truth on our side and anyone who knows they’re right in an argument remains calm and focused till you win. Do not even talk about impeachment. You need 67 votes in the Senate for a conviction, so Democrats would need to convince 20 Republicans to vote that way, which is nearly impossible. The key is to wait for the Mueller Report and act accordingly. Weaken Trump for 2020 and get him out of there in two years. I wouldn’t put it past Trump to try to bury the report before Dems take over in January, but the Dems can now launch their own investigation.
Sexist but more funny than sexist.


  • The Democrats in the Senate faced the toughest map ever.
  • The Senate results don’t matter as much as people are saying. The three Democratic Senators who lost all lost in red states. Of course, it’s nice to win some seats and have the influence that a Senator has not only in the Senate but also in their home state, as well. But the GOP Senators have been supporting Trump’s agenda anyway and the GOP is now Trump’s party — the Republicans that hewed more closely to him generally won — so if they have 53 or 57, who cares? 50’s the majority as long as Mike Pence can cast the tiebreaker. 51 or 52, it’s POSSIBLE to pick off a vote or two, though that rarely happened, anyway. 58 or more and that’s too close to 60, which is a supermajority. Joe Manchin (D-WV) sometimes votes with the GOP so they could maybe pick off another Democrat somewhere. So, 53–57 is all the same number.
  • Keep this in mind. And yes, I had to bust out an Excel Spreadsheet and do some real work this morning. And the point of these next few, well, points, is just to show how balanced (or for pessimists, “divided”) we are. The playing field is even and it’s well-defined. There are:

- 4 Red States that have Democratic Senators: Montana (Jon Tester — 2024*), New Hampshire (Jeanne Shaheen — 2020), Ohio (Sherrod Brown — 2024*), West Virginia (Joe Manchin — 2024*).

- 4 Blue States that have Republican Senators: Colorado (Cory Gardner — 2020), Maine (Susan Collins — 2020), Pennsylvania (Pat Toomey — 2022), Wisconsin (Ron Johnson — 2022).

*Won last night.

- Those four red states have a total population of 15.88 million.

- Those four blue states have a total population of 25.56 million.

  • As such, though it’s impressive we have a Senator in Montana and in West Virginia (deep red), they’re deeper into our territory than we are into theirs. But let’s do this…
  • In 2020, let’s hold Shaheen and let’s get Gardner and Collins outta there. Especially Collins — she’s been such a continual disappointment. Shaheen eked by in 2014, but so did Gardner. Collins is much tougher to beat but let’s make that a goal. If we do that, then the numbers will be 22.83 D — 18.61 R.
But we got it covered.


  • The majority of Americans will live under a Democratic Governor.
  • There are:

- 3 Red States that have Democratic Governors: Kansas, Montana, North Carolina.

- 3 Blue States that have Republican Governors: Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont.

- Those three red states have a total population of 14.23 million.

- Those three blue states have a total population of 13.53 million.

  • That’s about fair, so yes, it would’ve been dope to have gotten Florida, but we don’t need it.
  • It’s great news that Democrats won in Kansas and in Wisconsin. Scott Walker is gone — a man who has gutted unions over the past decade and just generally been a douche.
  • Republicans have total state control in Iowa, Ohio, and Florida, but I’m guessing the Democratic 2020 candidate will have to win the White House without these states, anyway. Before Obama, Iowa was a red state. Ohio has gone more the way of Missouri in its redness. And if you’re banking your hopes on Florida — either party — that seems precarious.
  • It’s very disappointing that Andrew Gillum lost in Florida, but again, you just can’t count on Florida in politics. I never thought Stacey Abrams would win (though she’s rightly contesting), but it’s great that both Gillum and Abrams got this close — that’s certainly progress.
  • Which brings me to Beto O’Rourke. That we got this close in Texas is a great sign. And the state is only getting more blue with time. A detailed Politico article analyzed his campaign. (And if I write “detailed,” you know it’s detailed.) The most striking to me was that he had no “Republicans for Beto” signs printed up. He could’ve won this race — as an anonymous Democratic strategist put it, “he was a cause, not a candidate” — but the silver lining is that this frees him up to run for President.


Map Quest.
  • Beto’s fundraising alone puts him on-track to be a formidable candidate. (I still see Joe Biden/Kamala Harris as the ticket but hey.) Democrats, keep working Texas. We may or may not flip it in 2020, but Winter Is Coming.
    Those 38 electoral votes will be a game-changer.
  • You need 270 electoral votes to win the Presidency. I just did the math and we can win 274–264*. Basically, just win back Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and you got this. Trump’s tariff and tax cut policies led to D wins in these states; these are blue states. Keep laying groundwork in Florida and Texas for 2022, 2024, and beyond. Try to win New Hampshire and North Carolina and Ohio, but don’t sweat it if you don’t. Get the parts of Maine you can.
  • Democrats must do everything in their power to hold onto Nevada. It’s a good sign Rep. Jacky Rosen beat Dean. Heller. (Rep for Representative, not Republican, though that never fails to confuse me for a second.)
  • Don’t write off the rural areas — visit ’em all like Beto did. But the key is turnout in cities and The Battle of the Burbs. There are 21 Obama/Trump districts. In the 12 districts where Trump won by more than Obama won, Democrats still won 6 of those. That’s huge. These are winnable districts.
  • The candidate will matter. Jury’s out on whether a liberal or a moderate stands a better chance. Usually, the next President is the opposite of the current one. So, maybe don’t go toe-to-toe. Think of a moderately liberal person who’s generally calm but can express anger in a healthy and “feel your pain” way. It’s gonna be a tightrope walk.
  • Alright, with that, I need a break from politics. I’ll leave you with one final thought…
  • The Midwest Suburbs are where it’s at — and if there’s one group of people in this world that I know extremely well — it’s midwest suburban folks. These are my peeps. And I can tell you what will work and what won’t. So, given my Flaming Pie vision, if anyone wants to hire me as a Democratic consultant, in the immortal words of Ross Perot, “I’m all ears.”
Our Diverse Group in Burbank, CA. Adam Schiff was right down the street.

Rajiv Satyal is a political analyst masquerading as a standup comedian.



Rajiv Satyal

Ohio-born, LA-based comedian.