Search This Blog

Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Blue Tsunami

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.

Harry Enten at CNN reflects on the House Democrats' net pickup of 40 seats.
We can go back even further and see how unusual it is that Democrats picked up this many seats. If you go back all the way to first election of the post-World War II era (1946), there have only been three elections in which Democrats net gained more seats than they did in 2018. Put another way, this was the fourth best performance for Democrats in the 37 general House elections since President Donald Trump was born.
Another way to judge an election is by how many votes each side wins. Democrats' position in the national House popular vote is now reaching historical proportions.
According to the vote count from the Cook Political Report, Democrats now have a 8.6 point lead. For a party that started in the minority, this is incredibly strong. Minority parties often struggle because even an unpopular majority party is protected partially by the fact that incumbents receive a boost compared to other candidates.
This year's 8.6 point House popular vote win for the Democrats is the greatest on record for a minority party heading into an election. This dates all the way back to 1942, when the Clerk of the House started listing the House popular vote in its after-election statistics document. That is, the Democratic performance this year was better than the minority party's in the previous 38 elections.
David Weigel at WP explains that the tsunami did not engulf all other offices:
Here's the scorecard, starting with the state of the parties as compared with their status after the 2016 elections.
  • Senate: 53 Republicans, 47 Democrats and independents (R 1)
  • House: 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans (D 41)
  • Governors: 27 Republicans, 23 Democrats (D 7)
  • Attorneys general: 26 Democrats, 24 Republicans (D 4)
  • State legislative chambers: 61 Republican, 38 Democratic (D 8)
  • State "trifectas": 23 Republican, 14 Democratic (D 7)
The short-lived "what wave?" commentary that followed the election can be explained by a look at everything outside the House map; Republicans consolidated their control of several red states, and Democrats recovered only part of what they'd lost during the Obama years.