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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Reading the Tea Leaves from 2018 and 2019

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

My friend and frequent co-author, demographer Bill Frey has a good, data-packed article up on the Brookings sifting through data from 2018 and 2019 and assessing what signals there may be there for the 2020 election. He’s pretty bullish on the Democrats.

“In 2018, 83% of voters resided in counties that increased their D-R margins since 2016, including 26% that increased their D-R margins by more than 10, and 57% that increased their margins by 0 to 9. Increased D-R margins were prominent among voters in counties that voted both Democratic and Republican in 2018.

Counties with sharply increased D-R margins tend to have “Republican-leaning” attributes, when compared with all counties: greater shares of noncollege whites and persons over age 45, and smaller shares of minorities and foreign-born persons. This occurs among both Democratic-voting and Republican-voting counties, suggesting there was a shift toward Democratic support for groups in counties that helped to elect Donald Trump in 2016….

Clearly, this week’s results for Kentucky governor and Virginia statehouse seats are positive signs for Democrats, especially when viewed on top of the heft and breadth of Democratic-leaning voting trends from the 2018 midterms. The latter strongly suggest movement toward increased Democratic or reduced Republican margins for large swaths of the country, across regions and especially in the suburbs. There appears to be reduced Republican support among white voters without college degrees—especially males—along with increased Democratic support among white, college-educated women. Moreover, both the 2018 midterms and this week’s off-year elections underscore the fact that turnout in 2020 is likely to be higher than in recent elections, rising especially among Democratic-leaning groups such as the young, minorities, and highly educated.

Of course, a lot can happen in the next year, especially with a still-undecided Democratic candidate and the potential impeachment and trial of President Trump. However, several underlying forces revealed in the 2018 and 2019 November elections suggest a swing toward Democrats is possible—assuming they are able to capitalize on it.”

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