Democrats deliver blow to Trump in US polls

Mr Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, greeting supporters after his election victory, in Fairfax, Virginia, on Tuesday. Mr Northam registered a commanding victory, overcoming a racially charged campaign by his Republica
Mr Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, greeting supporters after his election victory, in Fairfax, Virginia, on Tuesday. Mr Northam registered a commanding victory, overcoming a racially charged campaign by his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie.PHOTO: NYTIMES

State and mayoral poll results dampen US President's one-year anniversary in office

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has suffered a humbling triple defeat, with Democrats' victory in high-profile state and mayoral elections dousing any exuberance on the anniversary yesterday of his dramatic election win and underscoring the struggles he faces as an unpopular president.

The results from Tuesday's elections amount to a sweeping repudiation of what critics have called Mr Trump's politics of division, and a test of his influence ahead of electoral battles looming on the state and national level.

The Democratic Party's crowning success of the night came in Virginia, where Lieutenant-Governor Ralph Northam won a commanding victory for governor, overcoming a racially charged campaign by his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie and cementing Virginia's transformation into a reliably Democratic state immune to Trump-style appeals.

The Democrats' electoral validation, though, took place well beyond the Virginia governor's race: They wrested the governorship of New Jersey away from Republicans, swept two other state-wide offices in Virginia, made gains in the Virginia Legislature and won a contested mayoral race in New Hampshire.

In New Jersey, Mr Philip Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive, won the governorship by a vast margin that brought an unceremonious end to Governor Chris Christie's tenure. And in New York, progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio rode a wave of hometown distaste for Mr Trump to cruise to re-election in America's most populous city.

Among other Democrat mayoral election wins, Ms Joyce Craig won the mayor's race in New Hampshire's biggest city, Manchester. Ms Vi Lyles - a Democratic councilwoman - was elected mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, while Mr Martin Walsh, a Democrat of Boston, cruised to re-election.

The results mark a revival of political fortunes for the Democratic Party, which had failed to win a number of previous special elections in several states this year, triggering concern about how to counter Mr Trump's influence in US politics.

LOSING GRIP

If they can lose control of a legislative chamber, they can certainly lose control of the US House of Representatives.

DR MICHAEL MCDONALD, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, on Republicans under threat of possibly losing control of the state legislature.

In his typically combative style, Mr Trump swiftly sought to distance himself from Mr Gillespie, who did not campaign with the president. "Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for," Mr Trump wrote in a scathing tweet from South Korea, where he is in the middle of a tour through Asia. The President insisted that with the US economy doing well, "we will continue to win".

But some analysts said the results suggest a Democratic wave might be on the horizon. Virginia was a "blood bath" for Republicans, Dr Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, said.

Compounding the Republican woes in Virginia, Democrats also won contests for lieutenant-governor and attorney-general. And the party gained several seats in the 100-member House of Delegates, putting Republicans under threat of possibly losing control of the state legislature.

"If they can lose control of a legislative chamber, they can certainly lose control of the US House of Representatives," said Dr McDonald.

All 435 seats in the US House are up for re-election every two years. Republicans currently hold a comfortable majority, but if they lose that advantage, Mr Trump's legislative agenda would come under threat.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2017, with the headline 'Democrats deliver blow to Trump in US polls'. Print Edition | Subscribe