We’ve had a few days to digest the results. No doubt about it, these midterm elections marked a turning point for our nation.
Let’s examine what the landscape looks like today — and how we got here.
Democrats regained control of the House from Republicans, powered by a suburban revolt that has threatened what’s left of the president’s governing agenda. But the GOP added to its Senate edge and prevailed in some key gubernatorial races. The anticipated “blue wave” never fully materialized.
Democrats are still in for a battle in Congress. Their edge remains razor thin.
Most notably — and perhaps most refreshing — the election this week exposed an extraordinary political realignment in an electorate defined by race, gender and education. It will shape U.S. politics for years to come.
Democrats relied upon women, people of color, young people and college graduates to make those gains. The GOP’s successes were fueled by a coalition that’s decidedly older, whiter, more male and less likely to have college degrees.
For certain, diversity on the ballot drove turnout. Voters were on track to send at least 99 women to the House, shattering the record of 84. The House also is getting its first two Muslim women, Massachusetts elected its first black congresswoman and Tennessee got its first female senator.
Women definitely pushed back on the system. They voted considerably more in favor of congressional Democratic candidates — with fewer than 4 in 10 voting for Republicans, according to VoteCast, a nationwide survey of more than 115,000 voters and about 20,000 nonvoters, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
VoteCast’s survey paints a portrait of an enthusiastic yet deeply divided electorate.
— Health care was at the forefront of many voters’ minds: 26 percent named it as the most important issue facing the country. Immigration was not far behind, with 23 percent naming it as the most important issue.
— Nearly two-thirds of voters said Trump was a reason for their vote, while about a third said he was not. Nearly 4 in 10 voters said they cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, while a quarter of voters said they voted to express support for Trump.
— Women voted considerably more in favor of their congressional Democratic candidate: 55 percent voted for the Democrat, compared with 41 percent voting for the Republican. Men were more narrowly divided in their vote.
— Women ages 18 to 29 voted strongly Democratic, with 63 percent of those voters favoring the Democratic candidate.
— White women were narrowly divided in their views: 50 percent of white women voted for the Republican, while 46 percent voted for the Democrat. Among non-white women, 78 percent voted for the Democrat.
— Voters have a positive view of the state of the national economy: about two-thirds said the condition of the economy is excellent or good, compared with a third who said it’s not good or poor.
— But a majority of voters said the country is headed in the wrong direction. Nearly 6 in 10 voters said it is headed in the wrong direction, while around 4 in 10 said it’s on the right track.
— About three-quarters of voters said the debate over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination was very or somewhat important to their vote. Those who said it was very important to their vote were more likely to support the Democratic candidate. The GOP-led Senate confirmed Kavanaugh after a California professor accused him of sexual assault when both were in high school. Kavanaugh denied the allegations.
— And roughly three-quarters of voters were very or somewhat concerned about women not being believed when they make allegations of sexual misconduct. About the same share said they were very or somewhat concerned about men not being given the opportunity to defend themselves against allegations of sexual misconduct.
All of those contributors rewrote history. Yes, the president found partial success from Tuesday’s results despite his current job approval, set at 40 percent by Gallup, the lowest at this point of any first-term president in the modern era. Both Barack Obama’s and Bill Clinton’s numbers were 5 percentage points higher, and both suffered major midterm losses of 63 and 54 House seats, respectively.
But Trump and Congress have been handed mandates.
Let’s hope these positive changes and input can lead to actual dialogue and governing — and not more gridlock.