Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.
Nate Cohn at NYT:
The results by state only add to the uncommon picture. In our era of increasingly nationalized elections, trends in one part of the country tend to play out in others as well. Instead, this year we saw a split: Republicans fared exceptionally well in some states, including Florida and New York. In others, like Michigan or Pennsylvania, Democrats excelled.
How can we make sense of it? The results seem unusual because of two unusual issues: democracy and abortion.
Unlike in the typical midterm election, these issues were driven by the actions of the party out of power. Indeed, the party out of power achieved the most important policy success of the last two years: the overturning of Roe v. Wade. It’s nothing like the typical midterm, which might be dominated by a backlash over a first-term president’s effort to reform the health system, as with Obamacare in 2010 or Mr. Clinton’s health care initiative in 1994.
These issues were unusual in another respect: Their importance diverged by state or by candidate. Abortion rights might not be seen as under immediate threat in many blue states. The possibility that a Republican governor might overturn a Democratic presidential victory in New York might not seem especially realistic, either.
But the two matters were directly relevant in other states, whether through referendums on abortion rights or candidates on the ballot who had taken antidemocratic stances in the very places where Mr. Trump tried to overturn the last presidential election. In those places, Democrats tended to defy political gravity. In states where democracy and abortion were less directly at issue, the typical midterm dynamics often took hold and Republicans excelled.
Of course, Trump is widely disliked. Only 39 percent of exit poll respondents had a favorable view of Trump, while 58 percent offered unfavorable evaluations.
Putting a guy with 58 percent unfavorables in every voter’s face, every day, during the final run-up to the election is going to limit your gains. Almost as many Americans said their ballot was a vote against Trump as said it was a vote against Biden.