Here’s What Powered the Democratic Win in 2018

Yair Ghitza at Catalist has a detailed look at the 2018 election that’s been updated with lots of new data. One of the things he looks at is the long-running question of how important turnout is compared to changing minds. Here’s how it penciled out in 2018:

  • Turnout: 37 million dropped off the rolls compared to 2016, reducing the Democratic margin by 2.0 percentage points. However, there were 14 million new voters who increased the Democratic margin by 2.6 percent.
  • Changing minds: 99 million people voted in both elections, providing Democrats with an increased margin of 4.5 percent.

One way of looking at this is that the net result of turnout changes was 0.6 percent, while the net result of changed voting was 4.5 percent. Thanks to rounding, this adds up to an increased Democratic margin of 5.0 percentage points. Of this, nine-tenths was due to changing minds.

This hardly means that turnout isn’t important, but it does suggest that in 2018, at least, the biggest factor by far was disappointment with Donald Trump, leading many of his supporters to switch their vote to Democratic candidates. Or it might mean that Trump has no coattails: his fans still like him, but that doesn’t always translate into voting for Republicans.

Ghitza also has a demographic look at the 2018 election, which I always find fascinating. The overall Democratic margin increased by 5 percent, so the most interesting question is: which groups increased their Democratic support by more than 5 percent, and which by less? Here’s the answer:

The biggest changes came among the middle-ish age groups (25-49), independents, and whites with college degrees.

The whole post is worth a read. Click here to see it.

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In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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