2020 Was The Status Quo Election

Once you start filtering out the California and NY State impacts on the popular vote – and start looking at the results downballot you have to be shocked by the results. Not only did the blue wave fail to materialize, but the GOP is in a better position post – Trump than they were at the start of this electoral cycle (2019).

It is hard to understand, especially when you consider how polarized the electorate has become, that voters still split their tickets. But split their tickets they did. The examples are numeeous but none may stand out more than Maine.

Yes, Susan Collin’s has had years to establish an independent brand and separate herself from Donald Trump. She also did vote against ACB on procedural grounds. That said, she outran the President by six points and basically gave the GOP the Senate in a state Biden handily carried. In Texas, Jon Cornyn won by 10 percent in a state Trump won by six. In North Carolina, Thom Tillis overperformed Trump and ditto in losing efforts in Michigan and Colorado.

The real sign voters split their tickets is in the state legislatures. In competitive legislative seats across the country the GOP held on or swapped seats. In Texas, North Carolina, Kansas, Ohio, Iowa, the Minnesota Senate, and reportedly in Arizona the GOP gained seats or held serve. In New Hampshire, the GOP actually flipped both chambers.

Even in the run-offs in Georgia’s Senate races set for January 5th the math looks good for Republicans because Jon Perdue ran ahead of Donald Trump. This is not good news for Democrats after two highly polarized elections in 2016 and 2018.

There are even some Congressional seats we can extrapolate candidates outran their Presidential nominee. The most notable would be in PA – 1, Mike Fitzpatrick once again outran expectations and won reelection in a district Biden carried. There probably are a number of Democrats who did the same in Trump districts but the final numbers have yet to be in it.

For an election defined by President Trump’s rhetoric, democracy being at stake, and the “soul of a nation” on trial, the results were surprisingly mundane. America will once again have divided government for the foreseeable future not just at the federal level but in many cases at the state level. Many voters who revolted against Trump this year seemed fine with the fiscal and social proclivities of their Republican legislator.

Worse for Democrats (I will cover this more in detail in a future post), their gains in the suburbs might have won them the White House by offsetting rural GOP gains elsewhere, those rural gains did not come among the typical, conservative white man and woman. Rather, they came among Floridan Puerto Ricans and Venezuelans, New Mexico Mexican Hispanics, rural blacks in Alabama, Mexican Hispanics in Texas and even urban blacks in Philly.

Due to margins and the way the election played out, Biden likely will win the election. But just like Obama’s win in 2012 relied on winning white blue-collar whites, Biden’s margins will rest on gains among suburban whites at the cost of some of the party’s minority support. It also helps explain how we could have a break from tradition where not all swing states went the same way (ie. FL, NC, GA, IA, PA voting one way and PA, WI, MI, the other).

Ultimately, the end result is a new President will be installed but other than that the rest of the county will still have the same party in power at multiple levels. Minus a wave election – which we did not have – it seems the end result of 2020 is largely the status quo.


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