Saturday, November 17, 2018

Something’s Happening in Texas - Final 2018 Midterm Results

Congratulations Democrats and Progressives — You Won. Do not accept any narrative other than one of a big win from hard-fought campaigns.

Democrats elected an unprecedented number of women, including two Muslim women, turned at least 6 state legislatures bluedemanded the Medicaid Expansion to Obamacare in three red states, and passed referendums in favor of recreational and medical marijuana and an increased minimum wage in several states.

More than half of eligible voters in the U.S. turned out to cast a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections, a record-high in modern history. Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, estimates that 118 million people voted in the midterms, about 50.1 percent of eligible voters. That turnout is about 11 points higher than the average for midterm turnout of 39.4 percent in at least the past three decades, since 18- to 20-year-olds became eligible to vote. In 2014, 83 million people turned out to vote. That’s the highest recorded rate for the midterms since 1914 when turnout was 50.4% and women didn’t have the vote.
Update: As of Friday, December 7, 2018, with only one House race not yet called — North Carolina's 9th Congressional District where the state elections board has been been investigating allegations of election fraud over mail-in absentee ballots in the November general election — Democratic candidates earned 60,721,208 votes in House seats across the country in the 2018 midterms, compared to Republicans’ 50,987,044, according to raw data compiled by the Cook Political Report, an independent, non-partisan political analysis website.

Republicans lost a net of 40 House seats, losing control of that chamber of Congress by nearly 9 percentage points in popular vote, 53.4 percent to 44.9 percent; and while they gained Senate seats, Republicans go from the 52-48 majority they enjoyed at the beginning of the 2017-2018 cycle to 53-47 next year — despite one of the most favorable Senate maps in a generation.

Republicans received the same kind of “thumping”they got back in 2006, and similar to the “shellacking” Republicans gave Democrats in 2010. They midterms delivered a divided government for the 2019-2020 term.

And that divided government takes away leverage Pres. Trump and Republicans might have in any budget shutdown fight. If there’s a shutdown, House Democrats under Speaker Pelosi’s leadership can pass a clean continuing resolution to fund the government — and dare Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to oppose it.

Elections, after all, do have consequences.
In 2018, Democrats earned a new record turnout victory in a midterm House election, surpassing the Democratic Party’s win over Republicans by more than 8.7 million votes in 1974, just months after President Richard Nixon resigned from office in disgrace. The national House vote margins in the midterm wave years of 1994, 2006 and 2010 were R+7 points, D+6.4 points and R+6.6 points, respectively. Democrats also rolled up nearly 16 million more votes in U.S. Senate races nationwide.

25 states recorded 50% turnout or higher with Colorado (62.2%), Minnesota (64.3%), Montana (62.1%), Oregon (61.3%) and Wisconsin (61.2%) exceeding 60%. Historically, the midterms have always had a weaker turnout than presidential elections — but not so much this year.
Catalist estimates of voter preference shows substancial preference shifts from the 2016 Presidential to 2018 Congressional election. These shifts go a long way in explaining the scale of Democratic wins noted through this article:
  • Young voters (18-29) supported Democrats by 44 points in 2018, up 18 points from 2016. Moreover, white young voters gave Democrats an impressive 26 point margin in 2018. For that matter, Democrats were also +9 on white voters 30-44. That means Democrats carried all white voters under 45 in 2018 and quite easily at that!
  • As polling sources suggest, Democrats carried white college voters in 2018 (+5) with a solid shift relative to 2016. Both white college women and men contributed to this shift but the largest contribution was by white college women. White noncollege voters, on the other hand, continued to be a problem at -26, only a slight improvement over the previous election.
  • Among nonwhite groups, Asians showed the largest support gains for the Democrats. But, contrary to the exit polls, Hispanics showed a slight slippage in support.
  • Democrats carried suburban white college voters by 7 points, representing a strong 12 point shift over 2016 in the Democrats’ favor. This is more less as expected.
  • But by and large, the strongest shifts in the Democrats’ direction were within rural areas! Comparing overall urban vs. suburban vs. rural areas, the respective pro-Democratic shifts were 1, 5 and 7 points. You see roughly the same pattern when comparing urban whites vs. suburban whites vs. rural whites. You even see a 7 point shift toward the Democrats among white noncollege rural voters!
  • Even more amazing, the Catalist data show a 25 point shift toward the Democrats among rural 18-29 year olds and a 17 point shift among 30-44 year olds. Most mind-blowing of all, Democrats actually carried rural 18-29 year olds in 2018 by 8 points.
  • A vast majority of counties showed increased Democratic support in 2018 House election
  • WaPo: Analysis of Texas Election Results
Research from the United States Elections Project, which tracks historical trends in turnout nationwide, reports that 46.3 percent of Texas' voting-eligible population cast ballots in the 2018 midterm. That figure, while up significantly from the 28.3 percent of the voting eligible population that voted in the last midterm election, still represents turnout far below the national average of 50.3 percent. Despite Texas' turnout growth, it lagged in total turnout, finishing 44th out of 51.

While final results from across the nation have been slow to finalize, they show that Democrats had perhaps less of a blue tsunami wave election and more of a rising blue tide that will continue to rise through the 2020 election and beyond.

It was clear on Election Night Democrats would win control of the U.S. House, but the scale of the victory was initially under reported by the mainstream media. Why did the media initially report Democratic wins were underwhelming? Mainly, several marquee Democratic candidates the media had built up in the final weeks leading to election day did not score election night victories.

Beto O’Rourke, the most hyped Democratic candidate of the cycle, lost his U.S. Senate race against the incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. O’Rourke's loss wasn’t unexpected — an O’Rourke win would have been an epochal surprise — but that loss in particular took some wind out of hopeful Democrats' sails. In Florida, polling showed the gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Senator Bill Nelson both with an edge, but when election night results came in, they were down. Neither race is officially called yet, and the Senate contest is headed to a hand recount, but Republicans Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott lead in those two races, for governor and Senate, respectively. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams also trailed Republican Brian Kemp in a close, and closely watched, race.

Even so, the blue tide of Democratic midterm wins keeps rising.

Democrats have gaining at least 37 U.S. House seats as of this writing, for a total of 232 seats — 14 more than is needed for a majority — with three competitive races; where Democrats lead in the ballot counts not yet called. Heading into the November 6, 2018, midterm election, Republicans held a 235-193 advantage over Democrats in the 435-member U.S. House. All 435 seats — including seven vacancies — were up for election, with Democrats needing to add 23 seats to win majority control of the chamber.

In winning control of the U.S. House, Democrats flipped congressional districts long-held by Republicans. Lucy McBath turned in a win over Republican Karen Handel — who had beaten Jon Ossoff in the heavily covered 2017 special election in Georgia’s Sixth, a long held Republican district.

Texas Democrat Colin Allred, a former NFL player making his first run for elected office, stunned incumbent Republican Pete Sessions to win his long held 32nd Congressional District in Texas. In another Texas-sized flip, Texas Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher unseated 18-year-incumbent Republican Rep. John Culberson in the Houston-area race for Texas Congressional District 7, a district held by Republicans since George H. W. Bush took over the district in the November 1966 election.

The very cradle of Reagan Republican conservationism and the birthplace of Richard Nixon, California’s Orange County, turned blue with Democrats wining all seven congressional districts within or that overlap into that densely populated county, including stalwart Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's 48th District.

Republicans no longer hold any House seats in New England, Axios reports, indicating that the party’s shift to the right since President Donald Trump’s election has pushed out more moderate conservatives. The final GOP representative was unseated by Democrat Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District Thursday. Golden was declared the winner by about 3,000 votes, NPR said, after taking into account Maine’s new ranked-choice voting system.
Of all New England’s U.S. Senate seats, Republicans hold just one: Susan Collins of Maine, who faces a reelection in 2020. Some Democrats, including Obama’s former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, are already considering a run against Collins. Last month, the senator disillusioned many of her more liberal constituents when she cast a vote vital to putting conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the bench.

Arguably the biggest win for Democrats since Donald Trump was elected is Democrat Kyrsten Sinema’s come-from-behind win in the Arizona race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the Republican Jeff Flake. For the past fifty years, Arizona has been the anchor of the Sun Belt pro-business, anti-tax libertarian conservatism that Barry Goldwater pioneered. Sinema is the first Democrat to be elected to the Senate from Arizona since 1988, and the first Democrat to win an open Senate seat in the state since Dennis DeConcini was elected, in 1976. The firsts don’t stop there. Sinema, a forty-two-year-old congresswoman for Arizona’s Ninth District, will also be the first female senator from Arizona, and the first openly bisexual senator from anywhere.

Last week, in a multi-candidate field, incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith for Mississippi finished with 41.5% of the vote, to Democrat Mike Espy’s 40.6 percent. Espy is an African American former congressman who just might take that Senate seat from the Republican. Because neither candidate reached the 50% threshold in the November 6th election, there will be a special election on Nov. 27, which is just a few days away. Hyde-Smith is noted for making a statement on the campaign trail that it might be a “great idea” to make it harder for some people to vote, and, in an implied reference to her African-American opponent, said, “If he [referring to a local white rancher] invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Mike Espy taking this Senate seat would overshadow Sinema’s Arizona Senate seat win.

Democratic Party Decline 2009—2018
States With Unified Party Control 2017-2018
Nationally, Democrats lost a lot of ground in statehouses under Barack Obama’s presidency, with about 1,000 legislative seats across the nation flipping to Republican control from 2009 through the 2016 election.

After the 2016 election, Republicans controlled a record 67 (68%) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation — 36 senate chambers and 31 house chambers — more than twice the number (31) in which Democrats had majority control, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

During 2017 and 2018, Republicans held more total state legislative seats in the nation, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920. Democrats held total control of just 13 state legislatures. Republicans held state government trifectas — where one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house — in 26 states, and Democrats held trifectas in only 8 states, with divided partisan control in the remaining 16 states.

From 2009 through the 2016 election, Republicans had gained control of the gubernatorial office in 33 states, a record high last seen in 1922, and flipped 69 Democratic seats in the U.S. House seats to Republican control, and flipped 13 Democratic seats in the U.S. Senate to Republican control.

In the 2018 midterms, Democrats started to get some of it back — but the party still has a lot catching up to do in 2020.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Unprecedented Midterm Election Early Turnout - Is It Enough?

Americans cast in-person and absentee ballots during early voting this year at rates unprecedented for midterm elections since early voting was instituted. With the conclusion of early voting, almost 35 million ballots have already cast nationwide, with Election Day still to go.

In 22 states, including Texas, and Washington, D.C., with an early voting period more people voted early than did so in the last midterm election, reports the New York Times. That means more people have cast a ballot over 12 days of early voting in those counties than turned out for the entire 2014 midterm election. And early voter turnout has surpassed that from the 2012 presidential election.

In Texas, both Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) say the state’s unprecedented early turnout gives their campaigns the advantage. Texas is historical a deeply conservative state because more progressive Texans seldom if ever vote - particularly in midterm elections. Because Democrats rely heavily on the votes of younger people and minorities, who are less consistent in their voting than are older whites, Democratic Party candidates usually benefit from higher turnouts.

As a result, Democrats hope the record early turnout supports their much-hoped-for blue wave. Early voter turnout in this midterm surpassed early turnout for the 2012 presidential election across Texas and in Collin County. In the entire early voting period, 5,808,588 (36.8%) of Texas’ 15,793,257 registered voters cast early ballots, according to TargetSmart. That’s 1.1 million more votes than were cast during the entire 2014 election. The rate of early voting turnout for this midterm rivals presidential year early turnout and far exceeds total midterm year turnout rates since 1994 for Texas and Collin County.

In the entire early voting period, 4,514,930 Texans cast in-person ballots and 369,598 cast mail-in ballots in the 30 Texas counties with the highest voter registration counts, where 78 percent of the state’s registered voters live. Durning early voting, 39.9 percent of the 12.3 million registered voters in those 30 counties cast their ballots. There are 16,628,103 people over age 18 living in these 30 counties.

The early voting numbers are giving a boost of optimism to O’Rourke supporters, who are seeing it as a sign that he may very well come out on top in the closely watched race against Cruz.
“If this continues, we win,” O’Rourke said Friday after a rally. “I feel very good about our prospects, not just on Election Night, but on being able to deliver for the next six years that follow on every priority, from health care to education to immigration to criminal justice reform. Texas is going to be the leader that this country has been waiting for.”
Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website predicts as many as 7.14 Texans will vote in the this midterm election, which would be 2.4 million more than voted in 2014. But, if current trends hold, some 3 million more people will vote this year in Texas than did during the last midterm, in 2014.