More than a dozen Democratic Socialists won last night in a wave of rose emojis

In 2017 — in some parts of the country, at least  — socialism is no longer a dirty word.

For months, the number of takes about the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) greatly outpaced the number of elected offices they held. While that’s still entirely true, Tuesday’s election night gains for the group were fairly substantial. The Democratic Socialists picked up a historic 15 seats across the country, adding to the 20 members they already have in office. 

Without context, that number may seem kinda weak. Historically, however, it has value. The DSA saw a 75% increase in elected officials last night, as well as something of a spiritual rebrand. It’s a percentage that shouldn’t be ignored, especially when you consider the group’s unexpectedly diverse geographic appeal.

Most Americans probably aren’t all that familiar with the Democratic Socialists, outside of Bernie Sanders and some rando dude who handed them a newsletter at a protest. If you were born in America any time after the Eugene Debs era (which ended in 1926), your associations with socialism probably begin and end with the Cold War, and maybe your AP History exam. 

Since the 2016 Democratic primary and the rise of Senator Sanders, at least some of that has changed. Last night saw the victory of Lee Carter, a DSA-endorsed candidate and open socialist from Manassas, Virginia, who defeated the Republican incumbent and GOP minority whip, Jackson Miller. Carter, who also attracted support from Our Revolution and Indivisible, whipped the whip soundly, winning by an absolutely punishing nine points.  

Manassas, Virginia, isn’t exactly the place you think of when it comes to, uh, democratic socialism. But Carter’s victory doesn’t appear to be so much a bug as it is a feature. 

On Tuesday, DSA-endorsed candidates won in traditional liberal strongholds as well…

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