Donald Trump suffered a series of disastrous arresting jokes when the Democrats declared victory in key elections in Virginia and Kentucky, gaining control of the former House and Senate for the first time since 1993 and claiming a victory in the government race strictly fought for Andy Beshear above GOP incumbent Matt Bevin, backed by the president at his rally in Lexington Monday night.
"Tonight, Kentucky voters sent a message, loud and clear, that everyone could hear," Beshear said. "It is a message that says our elections should not concern the right against the left, I am still on the right against the wrong."
Bevin has not yet officially admitted at the time of writing.
In Virginia, democratic governor Ralph Northam he told a cheering crowd in Richmond: "I'm here to officially declare today, November 5, 2019, that Virginia is officially blue."
One year before the presidential election, the results offered warning signs for both sides. Voters in the suburban areas of Kentucky and Virginia have sided with the Democrats, a trend that would complicate Trump's path to re-election if it were to apply. And the Democrats who made gains on Tuesday did so largely by avoiding positions like "Medicare for All" that animated the party's left flank in the democratic presidential primaries.
Democratic pickups in Virginia took place in the suburbs of Washington, DC and Richmond, which in recent years had already followed the party trend. Other GOP candidates across the state of Kentucky won with comfortable margins. But the disappointment at the top of the ticket offered yet another example in Trump's era of suburban voters' willingness to abandon the established republican loyalties – even with the president making a personal appeal on behalf of a GOP standard-bearer.
"It's such a pain in the ass, but that's what you want!" Trump said of the governor during his speech on Monday, Bevin a deeply unpopular man in the state after making feuds with local teachers.
"You have to vote because if you lose, send a really bad message," the president told his audience. "Just send a bad one … and they'll build it … If you lose, they'll say & Trump suffered the biggest defeat in the history of the world. You can't let that happen to me!"
Republicans maintained the governor's headquarters in the Missippissippi, where lieutenant governor of the state Tate Reeves took the job from the limited term Phil Bryant after winning a hard fought battle with the Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood. But even that race could end up with a single-digit margin in a Trump state won by 28 points three years ago.
The narrower result for Reeves reflects the same suburban trends seen in other states. Strongly Republican counties outside Jackson, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee, still tilted to the GOP candidate, but with significantly narrower margins than those Bryant had four years ago to win a second term.
Legislative seats were also being polled in New Jersey, with Democrats positioned to keep their overwhelming majorities and suppress any opportunity for Trump to suggest that Republicans were invading democratic territory before 2020.
On Twitter, the president was busy trying to manage the result on what turned out to be a terrible night for his party:
Here is the report by Zamira Rahim.