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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Ticket-Splitting in 2020

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.

Tarini Parti and Chad Day at WSJ:
Nebraska is one of two states that divides its Electoral College votes, and Mr. Biden earned one of them by beating President Trump by nearly 7 percentage points in the Second Congressional District, where Mr. Jackson lives. At the same time, voters there stuck with Mr. Bacon, the incumbent Republican, who won 51% to 46% over Democrat Kara Eastman.

Surveys have found that splitting votes between parties has been on the decline in recent years as the electorate grows more polarized. The 2020 election showed there are still enough people who vote that way to matter in places like eastern Nebraska and Maine, where Mr. Biden and Republican Sen. Susan Collins both won statewide.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of county-level election results found that, as in the Omaha area and in Maine, Mr. Biden tended to outperform Democratic Senate candidates in cities, suburbs and exurbs.

Bill McInturff, a GOP pollster at Public Opinion Strategies, said his firm found in a survey that 11% of voters nationally split their ticket—a thin slice but one that matters when contested races are decided by a few percentage points. “That number is really pretty deceptively small, but still, I think, really important in understanding where the Republican gains came from.”

There is another voter behavior that could play a role. In every election some people don’t vote in all contests on the ballot. It’s not clear whether that mattered in any close races this year; it doesn’t appear to have been significant in the Maine or Nebraska races.

In an election with record turnout, Mr. Biden won by stitching together a coalition of support from Black voters and white liberals, as well as people in traditionally right-leaning suburbs who were dissatisfied with Mr. Trump.

Some Republicans anticipated that strategy would lead to ticket-splitting. Brad Todd, an adviser to GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, said his campaign sought to encourage it among suburban, right-leaning men. “In this case, the ticket splitting was largely driven by the fact that Biden’s strategy involves borrowing Republicans,” he said.

A puzzle persists:  if congressional Republicans did so much better than Trump, why did they bow to him?  The answer is not that they feared Trump, but that they feared his supporrters.  Cross Trump, and face harassment and defeat in primaries.