Yesterday's winners and losers
First and foremost this election was a victory for Trump.
It will take a few days to process the meaning of this year’s election returns, but the instant analysis is clear: Democrats may have won the House, but Trump won the election.
Trump Republicans did better than mainstream Republicans, showing that the establishment Democrats' strategy of running against Trump (as opposed to running for something) continues to be a failure.
One Trump winner was this guy.
Proving the old adage that America is the land of opportunity where anything can happen, Dennis Hof, a Trump-loving brothel owner, won his race for Nevada state legislature on Tuesday night — despite the fact that he's been dead for three weeks.
The NY Times declared the election a victory for moderate Democrats.
The Democrats’ broad gains in the House, and their capture of several powerful governorships, in many cases represented a vindication of the party’s more moderate wing. The candidates who delivered the House majority largely hailed from the political center, running on clean-government themes and promises of incremental improvement to the health care system rather than transformational social change.
...Yet the theory — embraced by hopeful liberals in states like Texas and Florida — that charismatic and unapologetically progressive leaders might transmute Republican bastions into purple political battlegrounds, proved largely fruitless.
It's true that progressives lost a bunch of very close races in deep-red districts, but many of the biggest losses of the night were center-right Democrats. Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota were just some of those so-called "moderate" losers.
I say good riddance.
Marijuana continues to be a winner.
Voters in Michigan approved a ballot measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana on Tuesday, and two other states — Missouri and Utah — endorsed medical marijuana laws. Voters in North Dakota didn't partake, rejecting a measure to legalize recreational marijuana use.
Now 33 states have legalized marijuana to some degree, and recreational pot use is now legal in 10 states, along with Washington, D.C. But possessing, selling or using marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Coming into the Nov. 6 vote, both Michigan and North Dakota already had medical marijuana laws in place. Utah and Missouri didn't have far-reaching legislation on the books, though Missouri had lightened the potential penalties for first-time offenses.
Marijuana legalization advocates welcomed the news from Michigan, the first Midwestern state to approve recreational marijuana.
You can expect this trend to continue until Washington finally gives up.
In related news.
Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer will pursue executive action or legislation to free inmates and expunge criminal records for those convicted of marijuana crimes that will become legal under the state's pending recreational marijuana law, she indicated Wednesday.
“I think that the people of Michigan have said that for conduct that would now be legal, no one should bear a lifelong record for that conduct,” Whitmer said in her first press conference since winning election over Republican Bill Schuette on Tuesday night.
Which brings us maybe the biggest winners of the night, and the only good news out of Florida.
Florida has approved an amendment that will automatically restore voting rights to more than a million people previously convicted of felonies.
Felons who finish their full sentences, including fines, probation and parole, will now be allowed to vote in the state. The new law does not apply to anyone convicted of murder or sex offenses.
When it goes into effect, an estimated 1.5 million people in Florida who have completed felony sentences but have not been able to vote could show up to the polls, according to the nonprofit Sentencing Project.
1.5 million new eligible voters, almost all of them poor, could have dramatic effects on Florida politics going forward. This may also be the start of a new trend of enfranchisement.
And speaking of enfranchisement, voters are getting tired of gerrymandering and voter suppression, which also may make a huge difference going forward.
In the ballot measures that passed Tuesday, voters in at least three states took the power to determine political boundaries away from state legislatures, while a similar proposition in Utah was too close to call. Voter registration deadlines could become a thing of the past in three states that are making it easier to take part in elections.
Colorado voters overwhelming supported the two proposals, which will allow independent commissions to draw electoral districts for legislators and members of Congress after the 2020 census.
...Voters in Maryland voiced their support by 67-33 percent to allow residents to register to vote on Election Day.
Michigan also passed a law significantly changing the way the state's political lines are drawn for congressional and state legislative districts.
The amendment will take the power to draw those lines out of the hands of state lawmakers, as the Detroit Free Press explains, and put it into the hands of an independent redistricting commission made up of four Republicans, four Democrats and five people who identify with neither party.
The state also approved a wide-ranging amendment that will allow people to register to vote on Election Day and will institute automatic voter registration. It will also allow voters to request an absentee ballot for any reason.
Another effort meant to change the redistricting process, this Missouri amendment passed with more than 60 percent of the vote. The "Clean Missouri" proposal will eliminate the current system of drawing state legislative districts using a bipartisan committee.
Instead, a new, nonpartisan state demographer will propose maps that a bipartisan commission will then vote on.
Utah also passed a redistricting commission while Nevada passed same day voting.