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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Understanding the House Battleground

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his Facebook page:

The Washington Post is out with a large poll of the House battleground–the 69 most competitive House districts. The poll covered the period when the Kavanaugh controversy was coming to a head so should capture political movement from those events pretty well.

The topline is quite favorable for the Democrats:

“The survey of 2,672 likely voters by The Post and the Schar School at George Mason University shows that likely voters in these districts favor Democrats by a slight margin: 50 percent prefer the Democratic nominee and 46 percent prefer the Republican. By way of comparison, in 2016 these same districts favored Republican candidates over Democratic ones by 15 percentage points, 56 percent to 41 percent.”

If accurate, that’s quite a sea change in sentiment in these districts.

But I want to draw special attention to a couple of graphics in the story. The first shows some basic demographics of the likely voters in those districts. Note that despite all the talk about educated suburbanites, there are still far more white noncollege than white college voters in these districts (47 percent to 31 percent).

The second shows vote intention by some key demographics. Unsurprisingly, the Democratic advantage among white college women is large (62-37). But also of great significance is that white noncollege women–a more numerous demographic than white college women–are close to even between the parties (a mere 4 point Democratic deficit). If white noncollege women were polling more like their white noncollege male counterparts (a 20 point Democratic deficit), the Democrats’ chances of taking the House would be poor.

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Understanding these facts about the House battleground is key to understanding what is going on in 2018 and lessons Democrats should learn for 2020.

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