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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: The Sobering Downballot Facts

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

The good folks at the Cook Political Report have produced their traditional list of end-of-cycle facts about the the most recent election. I call your attention to the downballot facts. They should provoke some serious thinking about how the Democrats blew it so badly. The 2022 election could be a serious bloodbath without some very smart Democratic campaigning. The 2020 results do not inspire confidence.

SENATE:

12. Senate races still largely went the same way as the presidential election did in that state, save for Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who outran Trump by 7.2 points to win re-election. In 2008, she outran John McCain on the ballot by nearly 21 points, and in 1996 she outpaced Bob Dole in the state by more than 18 points. Her 2020 result is still the largest overperformance in a competitive race with Trump on the ballot by a Republican ever, outpacing Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s 6.69 in 2016, but Collins was in far more danger than Portman was and Trump won Ohio, while he lost Maine in 2020. In 2016, every single Senate race went the same way as the presidential race; this year, it was all but one.

13. Democrat Sara Gideon in Maine had the worst performance by a Democrat in a Toss Up race in comparison to the presidential results, running behind Joe Biden in the state by 11 points.

14. The Republican who ran the most behind Trump was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose winning margin was 4.4 points less than Trump, but he nonetheless sailed to a very comfortable 20 point win.

15. If Republicans hold onto both Senate seats in the January 5 Georgia runoffs, it will be the first time since tracking our Toss Up races that all the contests broke 100 percent one way for one party.

16. In Senate races we didn’t rate as Solid, Democrats (candidates + outside groups) spent $1,078,640,272 on TV ads, according to data from AdImpact. Republicans meanwhile, spent $850,828,443. In total, $1,929,468,715 was spent on TV ads this cycle.

17. The most expensive Senate race was North Carolina, where a total of $263,675,801 was spent by both parties on TV ads. Democrats spent more ($151,694,974) than Republicans ($111,980,827), outspending them by $39.7 million. Iowa was second, with $217,043,080 spent in total. Again, Democrats ($128,320,541) outspent Republicans ($88,722,539) by $39.6 million. Democrats nonetheless lost both races.

18. The most money spent in a state per vote was in Montana, where Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock and his Democratic allies ended up spending about $323 per vote. In comparison, GOP Sen. Steve Daines, who won by 10 points, spent $193 per vote. The next biggest disparity was in Maine, where Democrats spent $272 per vote compared to $172 per vote for Republicans in a race that Democrats also lost.

19. The best bargain in a state that flipped was in Alabama, where Republicans spent just $12 per vote to have former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville oust Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. Democrats spent $17 per vote.

20. In Colorado, one of the two states Democrats flipped so far, Republicans did outspend Democrats per vote, $31 to $29, only to have GOP Sen. Cory Gardner lose to former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper by almost 10 points.

21. In all competitive races (excluding both Georgia races), Democrats spent on average $94 per vote, while Republicans spent $60 per vote.
HOUSE:

22. In January, House Democrats will represent 51 percent of all House seats, but just 16 percent of the nation’s land area — the smallest geographical footprint of any majority in modern history.

23. All 13 of the Republicans who have been certified as the winners in Democratic-held districts were women and/or minorities — including three of Cuban descent, two of Korean descent, one African-American and ten women. Of the 46 freshman Republicans entering the House, 18 are women — more than Republicans’ current tally from 13 to 29.

24. The top three most expensive House races of 2020 — in terms of both candidate and outside spending — were California’s 25th District ($37.9 million), New Mexico’s 2nd District ($36.7 million) and Texas’s 22nd District ($34.1 million), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

25. The four largest outside spenders in House races (the DCCC, NRCC, House Majority PAC and Congressional Leadership Fund) spent a combined $442 million, including $196 million in races that were decided by more than five points and $42 million in races decided by more than ten. Meanwhile, there were 10 races Democrats won by less than five points where GOP groups failed to spend more than $500,000. Had Republicans invested in those races, they might have won back the House majority.”
Now that is genuinely scary. Time for a course correction.

2 comments on “Teixeira: The Sobering Downballot Facts

  1. paul w, chicago on

    It has been obvious to me for some time that the democratic party apparatus is hopelessly out of touch with what is going on on the ground. By apparatus, I mean state and national party(s), and the congressional campaign committees. I now give all my political money to organizations that go to the ground, register and talk to voters, and to some extent pay for social media com. Unless the party changes, and I have no confidence that it/they will, we arre headed for a mid-term disaster

    Reply

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