When most people think about the significance of the 2018 midterms, they think about the House of Representatives. Democrats, propelled by voter antipathy toward President Donald Trump, retook the chamber for the first time in eight years. The breakthrough ended two years of complete Republican control of the federal government. It also paved the way for Trump’s eventual impeachment in the Ukraine scandal last fall.
As the 2020 election nears, however, it seems like the most decisive result of the last cycle may not have been at the federal level. Voters also went to the polls in 2018 to elect a variety of state and local officials. In certain key states that Trump had won in 2016, they opted to elect Democrats to critical positions—posts crucial to the preservation of voting rights. Democrats ultimately flipped governorships in seven states, as well as the secretary of state’s office in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan.
Those relatively unheralded results will have a profound effect on voting rights ahead of the 2020 election. In some states, the Democratic gains will provide a bulwark against potential degradations of the electoral system in the months leading up to the November vote. In others, they will provide an opportunity for Democrats to push back on restrictive measures and ensure that more Americans might have a voice in choosing their next president. Either way, it could be a grim sign for Trump’s already flagging reelection chances.
Trump is increasingly showing signs of fear about greater voter participation in November. In a series of Twitter posts this week, he railed against officials in Nevada and Michigan for their plans to send vote-by-mail applications to every registered voter in their states. “Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” he wrote on Wednesday. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”