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Robert Costa’s Notebook: The Democrats bounce back

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By Robert Costa

Greetings from Washington, where Republicans are in control but Democrats are smiling.

Following Tuesday’s Democratic wave in several states, I’ve done a lot of reporting on the Republican fallout. The big GOP questions are about who’s to blame for the party’s defeats, especially in Virginia’s gubernatorial election. Some people on the right are pointing a finger at President Trump, others are saying congressional Republicans have failed to enact their promises and candidates pay the price.

My latest reporting on that whole scene, alongside the trenchant Phil Rucker, can be found in Thursday’s edition of The Washington Post (or here).

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Beyond the Republicans, however, the Democrats’ attempt to bounce back, following months of infighting and angst in the wake of Trump’s victory, is quickly becoming a compelling story. We’re a year away from the midterm elections, so I’m not yet drawing any sweeping conclusions. But Tuesday revealed a party on the rise in the suburbs. And if they can make gains in those vote-rich, well-educated and frequently more moderate enclaves in the coming months, they could put the GOP’s congressional majorities in jeopardy.

Still, again, it’s early and those gains are far from guaranteed. As Jonathan Martin and Alex Burn write for Thursday’s The New York Times, the House may be more in play than the Senate since “the Senate seats at stake next year are overwhelming in conservative, rural states where feelings about Mr. Trump range from ambivalent to positive.”

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What I’m watching: Who will emerge as a voice for Democrats in this turbulent political moment? Will they tilt the party in a progressive direction or in a more mainstream, business-oriented direction? Maybe someone will eventually unite both of those camps, but I bet we’ll first see different Democrats intensely debate their future.

For starters, it’s worth learning more about the Democratic contenders who won on Tuesday. There are probably clues in their biographies and political decisions that Democrats elsewhere will study for guidance.

Here’s a 2014 profile of Virginia’s governor-elect, Ralph Northam.

New Jersey’s governor-elect, Democrat Phil Murphy, is a former Goldman Sachs banker. But he doesn’t rush to tell you about that, per the Times.

See you on Friday.

Robert Costa

P.S. — I saw “The Newspaperman,” HBO’s new documentary on the late Ben Bradlee on Wednesday night at the Newseum. The film, which is terrific, was directed by John Maggio, who’s a friend of “Washington Week.” If you get a chance, see it. It taught me a few lessons, not just about journalism but about life and what it means to be a leader.

P.P.S. — I appreciate every reporter who comes on “Washington Week.” We book the best, we really do, and they give up their time on a Friday night to have a conversation that we hope shines a little light on national politics and policy. This week, I’m excited to welcome back NBC’s Chuck Todd, moderator of “Meet the Press,” which is celebrating its 70th anniversary in the same year our show celebrates its 50th year on air. Pretty cool, right?