Readers can consider this the inaugural edition of the Grab Bag, a set of articles focusing on recent electoral news and events. The goal of this Bag is to educate readers on the lesser stories of 2019 and 2020 while the Presidential race and scandal focused America get the major headlines. So, without further ado, let’s dig in shall we.
PA SD-37: It is little secret Republicans have suffered in the suburbs under Trump. There 40 seat loss in the midterms and hundreds of legislative losses can be chalked up to the massive shift in the suburbs. While Republicans recently found some small success in a pair of special elections in Connecticut the special election in a suburban Pittsburgh district Trump narrowly carried in 2016 continues to show GOP weakness.
The Democratic candidate won the open seat 52-48, further weakening the GOP majority in the upper chamber. It is true Democrats put far more effort into the contest than Republicans but the loss is a further sign the GOP is suffering in the suburbs under Trump.
Wisconsin Supreme Court: In what can only be considered an upset, Republicans scored a major upset with Brian Hagedorn leading Lisa Neubauer by half a percent or 6,000 votes out of almost 1.2 million cast. Though officially non-partisan, conservatives aligned behind Hagedorn while liberals and Democrats supported Neubauer. Neubauer is expected to ask for a recount.
Democrats and liberals were giddy about the contest based on April 2018’s contest when Rebecca Dallet, the Democrat’s preferred candidate, romped to an 11.5 point victory over her conservative opponent. A win by Neubauer would have set the stage not just for November next year but next year’s April contest when liberals would have had a chance to wrest control of the court from conservatives.
But it may be all for naught. Hagedorn performed twelve points better than conservatives in April of last year, fueled by major gains in Northern Wisconsin. For example, in the 18 county Green Bay media market, the swing was a massive 18 points from last April (-3 to +15). In the 11 county Wausau media market in North Central Wisconsin, the swing in the court margin was 17 points (-3 to +14). Both these areas were prime Trump territory in 2016 and Hagedorn did a late ad blitz tying himself to the President in both.
County-wise, some of the biggest shifts occurred in Manitowoc county and Marathon. Manitowoc County was won by Dallet by a point in 2018, Hagedorn won it by 25. Dallet won Marathon by a point last April, Hagedorn by 19.
The most startling statistic of the race; whereas Democratic leaning counties saw the biggest turnout increases last November, of the twenty counties that saw the biggest conservative swing from last April, all but two were in the Northern media markets.
Unsurprisingly, liberals won big in Dane (Madison) county and Milwaukee. Dane actually delivered a larger raw vote margin than Neubauer than it did Dallet (5,000 more). But this was off-set by a smaller win in Milwaukee and Hagedorn regaining ground in the Milwaukee suburbs.
The results portend a close Presidential contest next year despite conservative struggles last November. The court race’s county results map suggest a highly polarized map. f the 53 counties Scott Walker won last year, Hagedorn won 49 while Neubauer won all but one of the 19 counties Tony Evers did.
While Democrats have traditionally benefited from higher turnout, this go-round it seems conservatives won the day. Unofficial returns forecast turnout at 26.3 percent of the voting age population, compared to 22.3 percent last April. If Republicans were looking for a sign of whether they could hold the Midwest in 2020, they got it with this contest. The lesson for Democrats; we still have work to do!
Trump and Hispanics: The conventional narrative says Trump should be struggling with Hispanics. So, Republicans should be going all in on college educated, suburban women. But new polling data from Laughlin and Associates suggests Trump’s 2020 chances might lie with Hispanics. And his chances look surprisingly strong.
The poll found Trump’s approval among Hispanics in March averaged 50 percent. Even if too much of a good thing, Morning Consult found his approval at 45 percent. The question might pop up, why?
There are likely three factors. The first is the economy. Hispanics have significantly benefited from the growing economy, and contrary to the conventional narrative, focus on pocketbook issues more than white voters. It is hard to deny the benefits of the economy with Hispanics when data suggests the unemployment rate of Hispanics has been below 5 percent for 11 months.
Another is immigration. Trump might be tone-deaf when it comes to immigration but his policies are more supported among second and third generation Hispanics than reported. These voters are more likely to behave as white voters in terms of political behavior and ideological viewpoints. This benefits Trump.
The last might be a mix of social issues and demography. Hispanics, like black voters, report socially conservative positions on hot-button issues like abortion. But, unlike black voters, they don’t disregard these opinions when they vote. Rather, more Hispanics are drawn to the GOP’s conservative wing on these issues than it seems.
Take this statistic for example. “A 2018 Pew poll, for instance, found that 61% of whites believe abortion should be legal in most/all circumstances, but only 44% of Hispanics concur. In a separate survey, Pew also discovered that among Democrats, Hispanics are almost twice as likely to identify as “conservative” as non-Hispanics. Given these realities, the increasingly extremist Democratic Party practically invites electoral doom in 2020.”
It is little wonder then why socially liberal white voters are gravitating left while Hispanic voters gravitate rightward. At a time when Democrats are advocating abortion on demand to appease their growing white, college educated female vote, they are cannibalizing another part of their electoral coalition. Also, with fewer college educated white women having children while the Hispanic population continues to surge, it is a trade-off the GOP should fully welcome.
This trend could be seen even last November. Democrats made gains in largely white, well educated suburban seats. But, in the quintessential swing district, TX-23, they lost in a Clinton district they should have easily won. A number of other local contests in the state swung the GOP’s way despite being diverse. This suggests, like 2006, 2018 was a college educated white-lash to Trump and not a new majority-minority coalition rising Democrats to power. They would be wise to keep this in mind. As for Trump, he should continue to fight for the Hispanic vote and make Democrats fight to hold Nevada and Colorado. He might not win them, but it would make the party use resources they might need. In, say, Wisconsin!
Other: In pair of special election contests in Louisiana, Democrats scored upsets. Even in an era of polarization, sometimes local issues do matter. A Democratic and Independent candidate campaigning on keeping Medicaid Expansion and reversing budget cuts won heavily Trump districts. This suggests for Governor Jon Bel Edwards, up for reelection this year in the state, voters do still somewhat have a fondness for the local Democratic party and the right candidate can still win statewide on state issues. In other words, run away from Nancy Pelosi and not toward her.