GOP Gains College-Educated and Minority Voters in Slim House Pickup

In making modest gains in House seats this year, Republicans drew more support from minorities and college-educated voters than in any other recent election, chipping away at key pillars of the Democratic coalition in a way that puts the party in good stead for the next election.

Republicans narrowed the Democratic advantage among Latino voters, black voters and white women with college degrees—key components of the Democratic voter pool—according to AP Votecast, the largest survey of midterm participants. GOP House candidates have won a majority of white women in the nation’s suburbs, helping propel the Democratic Party to its House majority in 2018 and supporting President Biden in 2020.

Neil Newhouse, a veteran pollster who has led polls for several GOP presidential nominees, said the numbers suggest our party has been more successful in moving voters of color to the GOP than we previously knew. “Since I got involved in politics 40 years ago, that has been the party’s long-term goal.”

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Voter shifts helped Republicans win a majority of House votes nationally, preliminary results show, but were not strong enough to bring the party substantial gains in House seats. Republicans have lost one seat in the Senate so far, with the final tally decided in a runoff election in Georgia next month. Still, the gains among these groups “tell me that if we can replicate this, Republicans are potentially in a good position to win the national election,” Mr. Newhouse said.

House members-elect following a group photo on the Capitol steps a week after midterm voting.


Photo:

Leah Millis / Reuters

Ruy Teixeira, a demographer at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, said the shift among Latino voters is particularly striking and extends the shift toward the GOP that has characterized the past two presidential elections. “He lost quite a bit among Latinos, and the swing was significant,” he said.

Several caveats apply in drawing lessons from the midterm elections. Fewer voters participate than in presidential contests. Voter swings, found by AP Votecast, vary widely by state and by whether the election has the ability to restrict legal abortion. Voters’ choices this year may have been driven more by views of former President Donald Trump and candidates who copied his political style than by views of his two parties. Mr. Trump is now the declared candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.

An AP VoteCast survey of more than 94,000 midterm voters nationwide found several notable shifts in voter preferences:

-Latino voters favored Democratic House candidates by 17 percentage points—56% for Democrats and 39% for Republicans—a very slim lead compared to the 28-point margin that helped President Biden win or a 34-point Democratic advantage in 2020. Last midterm elections, in 2018

Black voters gave 14% support to GOP House candidates, compared to 8% in elections two and four years ago.

-White women with college degrees, who favored Democrats by 19 points in the last midterm and by 21 points in the 2020 presidential election, have swung toward Democrats by a more narrow 6 points this year.

Republicans won an absolute majority of white women in the suburbs, carrying the group by 6 percentage points. Suburban white women supported Mr. Biden by 5 points and Democratic House candidates by 7 points in 2018. Overall, women voters, who make up about half of the electorate, have favored Democrats by one percentage point in the last two elections, by 12 points and 15 points, respectively.

Some Democrats have warned that the results of the midterm elections could be read less with special conditions. The future of legal abortion was a pressing issue in some states, which helped Democratic candidates, and was less important in others.

“I’m skeptical, because it wasn’t a national presidential election, and you have such differences from state to state,” said Elaine Kamarck, a Clinton administration White House veteran who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. .

Analysts said more data is needed to better understand what the differences in voter groups mean from state to state. Some early indications suggest that the shift in Latino voters has increased GOP vote share in some House races, even if the shift did not result in victory.

In some of California’s Latino-rich House districts, Democratic candidates won their elections by smaller margins than the party produced two years ago. Representative Norma Torres of Southern California, for example, won by 12 points in a district Mr. Biden carried by 28 points.

Republicans have cut into Democratic margins in two heavily Latino House districts in South Texas. Democratic Representative Vicente Gonzalez won re-election by 8 points in a district where Mr. Biden had 15 points, while Republican Monica de la Cruz won by 9 points in a newly created district where Mr. Trump had 3 points. .

In the Third South Texas House District, Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar won re-election in 2020 by a larger margin than Mr. Biden did.

Carlos Odio, co-founder of Equis Research, a Democratic-aligned firm that focuses on Latino voters, said the Hispanic vote varies significantly by state.

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D., Texas) is celebrating a narrow victory over President Biden in 2020.


Photo:

Denis Cathey / Associated Press

“It’s an unmitigated disaster for Florida Democrats across the board. But that’s especially true among Latino voters,” he said. Republicans won a majority of the Hispanic vote for the first time since 2006, Mr. Odio said. Republicans carried heavily Latino Miami-Dade County, the largest in the state, “in the Obama era. It’s unthinkable,” he said.

Republicans also increased their share of voters who did not have a four-year college degree. He dominated white voters in rural areas and small towns, winning 70% of those voters—producing an advantage of about 40 points—compared with leads of 30 points two years and four years earlier.

The AP VoteCast poll was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and Fox News.

to write Aaron Zitner at [email protected] and Anthony DeBarros at [email protected]

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