It’s taken awhile for the picture to come into focus, but with generally finalized election returns, more data availability and accumulated analysis, we can now delineate the main features of the 2018 blue wave with some confidence. Here are 10 things we now know about the election..
1. Besides netting an impressive 40 seat gain in the House, the Democrats had an extraordinarily high margin in the House popular vote. The latest figure is almost 9 points–8.6 to be precise. Amazing. This is the greatest margin on record for a minority party contesting a Congressional election. As Harry Enten of CNN put it, this wasn’t a blue wave–it was a blue tsunami.
2. Overall turnout was through the roof. The latest figure is 50.1 percent, the highest midterm turnout since 1914. That means turnout was up a mind-blowing 13 points over the last midterm in 2014.
3. The Catalist data make it clear that this historic turnout increase was driven heavily by younger voters, those under 40. These voters are predominantly members of the Millennial generation, with smaller groups of post-Millennials and the younger segment of Generation X. Precise figures are not yet available but we can be confident the turnout of these younger voters went up significantly more than 13 points.
4. Younger voters also drove improved Democratic performance in this election, relative to the 2016 Presidential election. Whether looking at 18-24 year olds, 25-29 year olds or 30-39 year olds, their margins for Democratic House candidates were all well over 30 points. These margins were improvements of 15-19 points over the 2016 Presidential.
5. The greatest margin increases for the Democrats among young voters occurred among white voters. This includes a massive 25 point swing toward the Democrats among white 18-29 year olds. In a development of great potential significance, Democrats appear to have carried all white voters under 45 in this election.
6. Both unmarried women and unmarried men played key roles in this high turnout election, much more so than their married counterparts. Unmarried voters were also primarily responsible for the Democrats’ improved margins over the 2016 Presidential election.
7. Nonwhite turnout was way up in this election–significantly more than 13 points–including among blacks, Hispanics and Asian/other race voters. The same was true of white college voters. White noncollege turnout apparently lagged far behind.
8. Relative to 2016, the greatest shifts in margin toward the Democrats were among white college graduates, especially women, and Asian/other race voters. White noncollege voters had a smaller, but still significant, shift toward the Democrats.
9. Overall, the Democrats’ gains among white voters.in 2018 can account for essentially all of their improved performance over the 2016 Presidential election.
10. While Democrats did not win rural areas, or even come close, it is still the case that the largest swings toward the Democrats over 2016 took place in rural, not suburban, areas.