The results of the midterms are hardly past us and with the dust starting to settle (unless you’re in Arizona or Mississippi) some basic lessons from the midterms can start to be extrapolated. Their will be a minority GOP in the House and a more dominant Senate GOP able to continue to impose their will on the federal judiciary but much, much more took place Tuesday.
Democrats Dominate the Suburbs
If there ever was a casualty of the Trump era it is the suburban Republican. Over twenty of the seats Democrats took/will take were suburban in nature from Virginia’s 7th to NY’s 11th. Democratic domination was so complete they are on course to take UT-4 and took a district in Oklahoma. Sure, some suburban Republicans survived but for the most part their districts are exurban as opposed to more suburban. In the end, the Democratic majority now runs through the purple suburbs, places that Mitt Romney won in 2012 and stretch from Texas to Washington State.
The Urban/Rural Divide is Real
The biggest divide in 2016 was education. The biggest division after Tuesday is place. In race after race, Republicans won rural areas and Democrats the suburbs and the cities. Even in the red-state races where Republicans triumphed they lost suburban areas or came close while Democrats crushed in the cities. Speaking of those red state races….
Trump and McConnell’s Red-State Gamble Paid Off
Republicans were worried their Senate majority might be in tatters mere weeks before the election but McConnell and Trump hatched a plot so sinister (sarcasm) it sacrificed their House majority for a Senate one. Trump went on the offensive on immigration while Mitch McConnell’s Super PAC went all in on attacking Senate Democrats on immigration. It worked! In fact, it worked so well it appears to have pushed Ron DeSantis over the top in Florida while not undoing Rick Scott’s Senate candidacy. Speaking of that….
Candidates Really Do Matter
If anything, this election codified candidates do matter. From Jon Tester’s tractoring to election events to Joe Manchin reprising his 2010 ad shooting Obamacare, there were a few surprises showcasing the strength of individual brands. Of course, while this is not always true, just talk to Joe Donnelly, good candidates won last night against weaker opponents. Democrats won some surprises in the House because their candidates surprised and their opponents underperformed. The biggest surprise would be Rick Scott winning in Florida, in a federalized race, with a large Hispanic population, while Democrats were winning nationally by seven points.
Democrat’s Midwestern Wall Is Repaired (Sorta)
In Wisconsin, Democrats got their white whale, Scott Walker. Michigan will have a split government for the first time in eight years. The Minnesota contest was not even close. Democrats gained a combined seven seats in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota. They held serve in all Senate contests. But, dig below the surface and it was clear the region is slowly become ever more Republican even as its Sunbelt neighbors appear redder on the surface. Republicans held the Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin legislatures. They won surprising victories in a tough environment in Iowa and Ohio. Wisconsin was close. They did not lose a single seat in Ohio or Indiana. If the Midwest was a wall it sure still looks like it has a shaky foundation.
Democrats Coalition of the Ascendant Sure Looks Pretty White Still
Democrats were banking on robust turnout from minorities and college educated whites to carry them on election day. While college educated whites, particularly women, showed in force their minority partners did not. Indeed, while youth turnout increased as did Hispanic participation it was pretty anemic. The Democratic wave in the House was fueled by the suburbs and college educated whites turning from the GOP and not a new generation of voters showing up to the polls. Come 2020 this will matter.