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President Trump during a rally yesterday at the Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem, N.C.
What an analysis of the 2018 midterms tells us about 2020.
If Biden prevails in November, it will be on the back of gains made by Democrats two years earlier, when voters turned against Trump’s allies in Congress and tilted Democratic in House elections by a historically large margin.
The Pew Research Center yesterday released its analysis of the 2018 midterms, using survey data from over 7,500 confirmed voters; its findings show where Democrats made the most significant gains two years ago — and where Biden will be looking to hold on to tenuous support.
The study found that Democrats held even or picked up ground with virtually all voting groups in 2018, except for those at the core of Trump’s base — Republican partisans and white evangelicals.
Independent voters swung from being basically split in 2016 — 43 percent for Trump, 42 percent Clinton — to backing Democratic House candidates by a 15-point margin in 2018. And suburban voters, who had tilted slightly toward Trump in 2016, favored Democrats in 2018 by seven points.
While midterms never have the same turnout as presidential elections, participation was high in 2018: Nearly half of the eligible population voted — the best turnout for such elections in 100 years. Of those midterm voters, 13 percent had either sat out the 2016 election or hadn’t been eligible and were voting for the first time in 2018.
Of those who hadn’t cast ballots in the presidential race, more than two-thirds voted for Democratic House candidates in the midterms.
Voters who had voted third party in 2016 also broke blue two years later: 49 percent Democratic, 37 percent Republican.
A notable exception to the 2018 trend came from Republican voters, who — two years after Trump’s insurgent takeover of the G.O.P. — voted for Republican candidates 91 percent of the time. That’s more loyalty than Republican voters had shown to Trump two years earlier.
While the Democrats’ gains in 2018 were particularly large, a newly elected president’s party almost always loses some ground in the subsequent midterm elections. Biden and down-ballot Democrats will need to fight to maintain the advantage they gained in 2018.
But recent polling suggests the tides are still in their favor: A Grinnell College/Selzer poll from late August showed Democrats with a seven-point advantage in House races nationwide, roughly even with Biden’s eight-point lead over Trump in that survey.
New York Times Events
Rethinking Milton Friedman
Fifty years ago this week, The New York Times Magazine published Milton Friedman’s seminal essay “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits” — a shot heard around the world for American free-market capitalism and the primacy of shareholders. Today, business leaders are responding to rising inequality and environmental risks by rejecting Friedman’s premise and instead emphasizing a commitment to the interests of all stakeholders. Can these interests coexist?
Join us tomorrow at 11 a.m. Eastern as the DealBook team is joined by the corporate governance expert and former Delaware Chief Justice Leo Strine Jr. and the Allbirds co-founder and co-chief executive Joey Zwillinger to discuss. You can R.S.V.P. here.