Saturday, November 17, 2018

Are Young Whites Really Different?

Politically, they're sure acting like it. If you take the Catalist data (linked to in previous posts) and look at the contributions various demographic groups made to the Democrats' improved performance (national-level) relative to both 2016 and 2014, you find these voters looming very large indeed.
Relative to 2016, whites under 45 can more than account for the entirety of Democrats' improved performance. Relative to 2014, these voters account for around 60 percent of the Democrats' improvement between the two midterms (the rest in nonwhite voters, particularly blacks).
There is no demographic force more powerful than generational replacement. The effects on politics can be very large and I think we are starting to see that.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Color Those Metros Blue!

Ron Brownstein has an excellent article out on how Trump is tanking the GOP brand in big parts of the country. Especially metro areas. Especially big metro areas. From the article:
"In Senate and governor’s races, Democrats scored decisive victories in suburban counties that have moved toward them in recent years, from Arapahoe and Jefferson Counties in Colorado; to Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, and Chester Counties in Pennsylvania; to Oakland County in Michigan; to Hillsborough and Orange Counties in Florida. But as in the House races, the collapse also extended to places that had functioned as the GOP’s last outposts inside metro America.
Trump in 2016 carried only 13 of the nation’s 100 largest counties, according to data compiled for me by the Pew Research Center. But last week, about half of that already modest group shifted toward Democrats in statewide races. Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs in Arizona, was the largest county that Trump won. But as of Tuesday night, it provided the Democrat Kyrsten Sinema a decisive margin of about 40,000 votes in her Senate victory over the Republican Martha McSally.
Tarrant County in Texas, which includes Fort Worth, was the second-largest county that Trump carried. But last week, it narrowly backed the Democrat Beto O’Rourke over the Republican Ted Cruz. Among the other large counties that Trump took in 2016, Suffolk (New York), Pinellas and Duval (Florida), Macomb (Michigan), and Oklahoma (in Oklahoma) all broke for Democrats in governor and/or Senate races.
Texas offered perhaps the most dramatic example of the undertow Trump has created for Republicans in metropolitan areas. In addition to his slim win in Tarrant County, O’Rourke carried Harris County (including Houston) by about 200,000 votes, Dallas and Travis Counties (including Austin) by around 240,000 votes each, and Bexar County (including San Antonio) by roughly 110,000 votes. As recently as 2012, Barack Obama’s combined margin across those four counties had been only about 175,000 votes. (He lost Tarrant by 94,000 votes, whereas O’Rourke won it by about 6,000.)"
Obviously Trump and the GOP remain strong in rural and small town America. But as other data on the 2018 election make clear (see my previous posts) even there Democrats were able to chip away significantly at GOP advantages.
All in all, an excellent base from which launch Operation One Term President Trump.
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So long as the GOP stays loyal to President Trump, its prospects on the electoral map will be sharply restricted.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How Did Demographic Groups Shift Support from 2016 to 2018?

As they promised, Catalist/Yair Ghitza have now released their estimates of voter support by group for the 2018 election, with comparisons to previous elections back to 2008. They previously did the same thing for voter composition in 2018. So now we have both and it's a great resource.
As I noted about Catalist's earlier estimates of voter composition, these estimates of voter support differ substantially from those of the exit polls.That doesn't necessarily mean we should just rely on the Catalist data and disregard everything else. Their methodology, while sound, has a lot of moving parts and is almost certainly not getting everything exactly right. Plus, they will be revising their 2018 estimates over time as more data becomes available. However, I do believe that, given the well-documented problems of the exit polls, it is quite plausible that the Catalist data are "righter" than the exits even if not exactly right.
There's a lot in Ghitza's report and even more in the spreadsheet the report links to. The report focuses on shifts from the 2016 Presidential to 2018 Congressional election, which seems appropriate under the current political circumstances. Here are some of the most intriguing shifts.
1. Young voters (18-29) supported Democrats by 44 points in 2018 up 18 points from 2016. Moreover, white young voters gave Democrats an impressive 26 point margin in 2018. For that matter, Democrats were also +9 on white voters 30-44. That means Democrats carried all white voters under 45 in 2018 and quite easily at that!
2. As other data sources suggest, Democrats carried white college voters in 2018 (+5) with a solid shift relative to 2016. Both white college women and men contributed to this shift but the largest contribution was by white college women. White noncollege voters, on the other hand, continued to be a problem at -26, only a slight improvement over the previous election.
3. Among nonwhite groups, Asians showed the largest support gains for the Democrats. But, contrary to the exit polls, Hispanics showed a slight slippage in support.
4. Democrats carried suburban white college voters by 7 points, representing a strong 12 point shift over 2016 in the Democrats' favor. This is more less as expected.
5. But by and large, the strongest shifts in the Democrats' direction were within rural areas! Comparing overall urban vs. suburban vs. rural areas, the respective pro-Democratic shifts were 1, 5 and 7 points. You see roughly the same pattern when comparing urban whites vs. suburban whites vs. rural whites. You even see a 7 point shift toward the Democrats among white noncollege rural voters!
Even more amazing, the Catalist data show a 25 point shift toward the Democrats among rural 18-29 year olds and a 17 point shift among 30-44 year olds. Most mind-blowing of all, Democrats actually carried rural 18-29 year olds in 2018 by 8 points.
There's something very interesting going on here!
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Last week, I shared the news that we at Catalist have developed a new methodology for projecting the true shape of an electorate, almost…

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What 2018 Tells Us About How Democrats Can Win in 2020

Several folks have already noticed that my Post op-ed on this topic is up on their site. My intent in the piece was to lay out a basic strategic approach that could succeed in 2020, based on the pattern of results we saw in 2018. How exactly to implement this approach in terms of a candidate/campaign themes is a difficult question and no doubt everyone has their ideas about that. But I wanted to make clear what that candidate and his/her themes has to accomplish.
"Think of it as a military campaign. From their coastal stronghold in the Northeast, the Democrats need to sweep into the Upper Midwest and down the Eastern Seaboard into New South states such as Georgia and Florida. And they also must push out from the Pacific coast and their emerging strength in the Southwest to threaten the other states such as Arizona and Texas that haven’t yet fallen to the Democrats. Each part of that campaign presents different challenges."
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The challenge will be implementing them with President Trump on the ballot.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Et Tu, Rural Areas?

One week on from the November election, it's become quite clear that the Democrats had an excellent election--better than it initially appeared on election night. But what of rural areas? The conventional wisdom seems to be that Democrats kicked ass in urban and suburban areas while losing ground in rural America.
Just one problem: It's not true! While Democrats certainly didn't "win" rural areas, they didn't lose ground either. In fact, they gained ground. Consider the following.
1. Yair Ghitza of Catalist has showed that Republican candidates at all levels systematically did worse in rural areas than Trump did in 2016.
2. Researchers at the Atlantic found that Democrats gained more ground (relative to 2016) in pro-Trump manufacturing counties and Obama-Trump counties than they did in majority-minority counties. In fact, Democrats flat-out carried the vote in Obama-Trump counties and were basically back to 2012 levels of support in these counties.
3. Daniel Block on the Washington Monthly site notes that:
"On the whole, Democrats performed better in rural areas during these midterms than in 2016, which helped the party win some of its most consequential victories....
Among Wisconsin counties with fewer than 55,000 residents (a larger number for a much bigger state), Evers lost with 43 percent to Walker’s 55.8 percent. But he would have lost the entire election had he performed as poorly as Clinton, who was defeated in these counties 37.8 percent to 56.5 percent. Matching Clinton’s vote share would have cost him 29,537 votes. If even five percent of these lost votes went to Walker, Evers would have been defeated. If Walker had matched Trump’s 2016 Wisconsin rural showing, he would have won reelection by 2,307 votes."
So progress was made in rural areas in 2018. Democrats should seek to continue that progress in 2020 and avoid the temptation to write these areas off because that's the other side's territory. That didn't work in 2016 and it won't work in 2020 either.
Contrary to widespread belief, support for the party did not collapse outside of suburbs and cities.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Who Voted in 2018? (II)

Yesterday, I posted the link to Yair Ghitza's Catalist analysis of voter composition in 2018. Here are some comments on the data, based on scrutinizing the spreadsheet linked to in the article.
First, it must be said there are some very important differences between these data and the exit poll data. This is true of both levels and trend. That is, not only does the Catalist data differ from the exits in terms of reported 2018 composition--for example, the levels Catalist reports for young voters and for Latinos are far lower than in the exits--but the differences between 2014 levels and 2018 levels reported by Catalist differ as well.
To deal with an obvious issue first: are the Catalist data the "correct" data? Should we just rely on the Catalist data and disregard everything else? Perhaps not. Their methodology, while sound, has a lot of moving parts and is almost certainly not getting everything exactly right. Besides which, as Ghitza points out, they will be revising their 2018 estimates over time as more data becomes available, particularly state voter files.
That said, I do believe these data deserve close attention. The exit polls have well-documented problems and it seems quite plausible to me that the Catalist data are "righter" than the exit polls even if not exactly right.
I'll concentrate here on what the Catalist data indicate about trend rather than levels. Among the more interesting findings are the following (all comparisons between 2018 and 2014).
* White vote share declined by 3 points, which agrees with the exit polls.
* Latino vote share did go up, just as the exits suggested, though not as much (1 percentage point vs. 3 in the exits).
* Youth (18-29) vote actually went up by a percentage point rather than remaining stable as the exits indicated.
* Black vote share went up a percentage point rather than declining by a point as the exits showed.
* White noncollege vote share declined by a whopping 5 points (the exits were useless on this trend because of methodology changes).
* White college vote share went up a point.
* White college women went up a point while white college men were stable.
* Suburban vote share went up 3 points, while rural vote share declined by 2 points.
* Suburban white college vote share went up 4 points, which is consistent of course with the conventional wisdom about the election.
* Suburban white noncollege vote share went down 3 points and rural white noncollege vote share went down 2 points.
Lots to chew on here and I do think it helps illuminate what happened in 2018.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Yet More Good News!

Kyrsten Sinema is now up by almost 29,000 votes in Arizona after the latest round of vote-counting. 538 now gives her an 85 percent chance of winning the race. Sweet.
In addition, 538 has the Democrats up to a 38 seat gain on their tracker. David Wasserman of Cook Political Report thinks the Democrats will get at least one more than that.
And the dreadful Dana Rohrabacher has been defeated by Harley Rouda in CA-48. Wasserman notes that:
"Two years after Trump became the first R to lose Orange County since 1936, House Dems are on track for a *total shutout* of the GOP in the OC."
He also notes that, if outstanding races in CA go the Democrats' way:
'CA would go from 39D-14R to 45D-8R, a delegation so lopsided it could capsize into the Pacific."
Finally, Amy Walter of Cook Political Report has this to say:
"Rs had a huge structural advantage going into 2018. The fact that Ds may net 40 seats is a rout. Period. This argument that it’s not as bad as Obama’s 63 seat loss in 2010 is laughable."