There’s a paradox for Democrats who watch the congressional map grow increasingly red: their candidates are losing, but many of their priorities are winning.

Pundits see the definitive midterm elections victory for Republicans as a resounding disapproval of President Obama, whose approval rate continues to drop. But exit polls show support for many Democratic-aligned policies, including minimum wage hikes and abortion rights protections, regardless of whether voters support the party’s candidates.


Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist and Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE’s (D-W.Va.) former chief of staff, suggested the night’s results may indicate once-partisan policy priorities are becoming “depoliticized.”

He speculated that the ballot measures, which were expected to help drive Democratic voters to the polls, may have backfired in some places and allowed voters to support bipartisan policy priorities while choosing a candidate that may have opposed them.

“It's worth asking whether we may have actually weakened ourselves by putting some of these issues on the ballot. It made it easier for voters to do both,” support a minimum wage increase and vote for a Republican governor, he said.

“If that’s true, that’s a very powerful dynamic.”

Democrats have complained that Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump Poll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (D-Colo.) and his reliance on women’s issues fell flat in Colorado. And while Udall lost to Rep. Corey Gardner (R), voters rejected the very same “personhood” measure that Udall sought to tie to his opponent. A similar amendment in North Dakota also failed in the deeply Republican-leaning state that didn’t have a senatorial election in 2014. 

Minimum wage hikes passed in two states that elected Republicans to the Senate. Senator-elect Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonHillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Facebook deepfake ban falls short | House passes bills to win 5G race | Feds sound alarm on cyberthreat from Iran | Ivanka Trump appearance at tech show sparks backlash Cotton introduces bill blocking intel sharing with countries relying on Huawei for 5G GOP senators introduce resolution to change rules, dismiss impeachment without articles MORE (R-Ark.) ultimately embraced the issue in the last few months of the race, but Democratic Sen. Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorTom Cotton's only Democratic rival quits race in Arkansas Medicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation MORE had previously hammered Cotton for not supporting the measure. Nebraska voters also resoundingly supported a graduated raise to the state’s minimum wage while also voting Republican Ben Sasse into the Senate.

National exit polls from North Carolina also provide a similar dynamic.

Fifty-seven percent of voters back giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal status and 52 percent said that abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Fifty-eight percent believe that climate change is a “serious problem.”

Voters also gave a slight preference towards legalizing gay marriage: 49 percent believe it should be legalized in their state, while 48 percent oppose legalization.

Another issue more popular with Democrats, marijuana legalization, passed in both Oregon and Washington, D.C.