Analysis: Democrats staring at midterm election abyss next November
In 2020, Democrats won the federal House be a 222-213 margin, losing 13 seats from the 2018 results, despite Biden winning the presidency. All House seats and one-third of the Senate, which Democrats control 50-50 with Harris’ casting vote, are up for election in November 2022.
Analyst Dave Wasserman said that Republicans outperformed the Biden-Trump margins in New Jersey’s legislative elections by a median 10.8 points. If that swing were repeated nationally next November, Democrats would lose 44 House seats. In Virginia, Reps outperformed by a median 12.3 points, and would gain 51 seats if repeated nationally.
The NJ and Virginia elections were high turnout. NY Times analyst Nate Cohn said that McAuliffe has 200,000 more votes than Dem Northam in 2017, who won by 8.9 points, while Murphy is matching his 2017 tally with many votes outstanding; he won by 14 points in 2017. High Republican turnout and vote switching from Democrats to Republicans caused these results.
CNN analyst Harry Enten said that in Virginia exit polls, Biden had a 54-45 disapproval rating, and Trump a 54-42 unfavourable rating. Those who approved of Biden were almost all for McAuliffe, and those who favoured Trump were almost all for Youngkin. The crucial bloc was the 16% who disapproved of Biden and had an unfavourable view of Trump. They voted for Youngkin by 68-32. Now that Biden is president, running against Trump is no longer good enough for Democrats.
In the 2020 Virginia exit poll, Biden won whites with a university degree (33% of sample) 52-45, while Trump won non-uni whites (34% of sample) by 62-38, with Biden dominating with over 75% among voters of color. In 2021, Youngkin won non-uni whites by a crushing 76-24, with McAuliffe holding up with uni-educated whites, winning by 52-47, and dominating voters of color with over 75% though they made up a lower proportion of the electorate.
The implications of this blowout in the non-uni white vote towards Republicans is frightening for Democrats. In 2020, Biden won by holding steady with non-uni whites vs the 2016 election and gaining with uni educated whites. If non-uni whites nationally start voting like those in deep southern states such as Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, Democrats are in massive trouble.
1pm Friday With over 95% reporting in NJ, Dem Murphy leads Rep Ciattarelli by 50.8-48.5 for governor. In the state Senate, Dems lead by 23-15 with two undecided – one Dem lead and one Rep. In the House, it’s 43-28 Dem with nine undecided – six Rep leads and three Dem. So the Senate outcome is likely to be 24-16 Dem, a one-seat gain for Reps, and the House outcome 46-34, a six-seat gain.
The big boilover in NJ’s legislature was Dem Senate pres Sweeney losing his seat to a truck driver who spent less than $US 200 on his campaign. Sweeney was a moderate who had dealt with former Rep governor Christie and obstructed some of Murphy’s agenda.
11:10am NJ Governor CALLED for Dem Murphy, who now leads by 50.0-49.2 with 90% in.
7:32am Thursday In some good news for Democrats, Murphy now leads in NJ by 50.0-49.3 with 89% in. Dems still look likely to win the state Senate by 23-17. Late counting in NJ can take weeks.
In Virginia, Reps will have a statewide sweep of elected offices, not just of governor, but also lieutenant governor and attorney general. And they’ve gained another state House seat for a 52-48 win, a seven seat gain. The only good news for Dems is that the state Senate, which they control by 21-19, was not up for election this year.
I will have analysis of these results later today.
8:10pm With 88% reported in NJ, Ciattarelli leads by just over 1,200 votes (0.05%). Murphy is expected to pull ahead as the Dem counties report their final votes. In the NJ legislature, Dems currently lead by 23-17 in the Senate. With two House members to be elected per Senate district, the House is likely to be roughly proportional to the Senate result.
5:18pm With all seats called in Virginia’s state House, Reps will have a 51-49 majority, a six seat gain for them.
5:08pm Ciattarelli now leads by under 600 votes in NJ. I’ve looked at the counties, and the Dem-friendly ones appear to have more votes left than Rep ones. On that basis, Murphy should win.
4:58pm In the 2017 Virginia governor contest, a bit over 2.6 million votes were cast. This year, over 3.2 million votes have been counted between the Dem and Rep candidates. This was a high turnout election in a Biden +10 state, and the Reps still won.
4:52pm With 84% reporting in NJ, Dem Murphy pulls into a near-tie with Rep Ciattarelli, with both on 49.6%. Ciattarelli leads by about 2,000 votes.
4:22pm In Virginia’s state House, one seat has flipped in late counting, so Reps now lead by 51-48 with one undecided, a six-seat gain for Reps. In NJ, Rep Ciattarelli leads Dem Murphy by 50.1-49.1 with 81% in.
3:54pm In Ohio’s 15th, Rep Carey’s lead narrows to 16.6%,, only just above Trump’s 14% margin. CNN has called Virginia governor for Youngkin, and Virginia’s state House is likely to be 50-50, a five seat gain for Reps. In New York City, Dem Adams wins by 66-29 with 85% in.
3:47pm With 78% reporting in NJ, Rep Ciatarelli leads Dem Murphy by 50.2-49.0. Commentators on Twitter are saying there’s no public info on how much vote by mail votes etc are left outstanding in each county, so hard to project anything.
2:35pm With almost all votes counted in Ohio, Dem Brown wins the 11th by 57.6%, down only slightly from Biden’s 60% margin. And in the 15th, Rep Carey wins by 20%, up from Trump’s 14% margin.
2:29pm Murphy coming back in NJ, trailing now by 49.1-50.1 with 71% in.
2:27pm Reps now lead by 44-28 in Virginia’s state House, a four seat gain for them. According to Wasserman, it’s likely to finish at a 50-50 tie, a five seat gain for Reps.
2:11pm Ciattarelli still leading NJ governor by 51.7-47.5 with 61% in. In Virginia, Reps now have a 42-26 lead over Dems in the state House, with 32 undecided. That’s a gain of three seats so far for Reps. Youngkin’s lead over McAuliffe narrows to 51.0-48.3 with 95% in.
1:30pm Rep Ciattarelli is now leading Dem Murphy in NJ Governor by 51.7-47.5 with 51% in. No NJ poll had Murphy losing.
1:00pm In NJ, Dem Murphy now trailing by 49.9-49.3 with 38% in. Would be a complete shocker for Dems if that holds. Better news in Ohio, where Dems are only two points off the 2020 results in both the 11th and 15th with most in. Dem Eric Adams easily wins NYC mayor.
12:25pm And New Jersey suddenly narrows to just a 52.6-46.6 lead for Dem Murphy with 22% reporting.
12:15pm With 18% reporting in New Jersey, Dem Murphy leads by 55.9-43.2.
12:11pm Carey now up to a 57.8-42.2 margin in Ohio’s 15th, ahead of Trump by 1.5% with 71% in.
12:02pm With an estimated 58% in in Ohio’s 15th, Rep Carey leads Dem Russo by 55.9-44.1. That’s a bit under Trump’s 14-point margin, but there’s still more election day to report.
11:56am In New Jersey, Dem Murphy leads by 60.3-38.8 with 10% reporting. That’s mostly early votes, and election day will narrow the margin.
11:36am Wasserman has CALLED it. Rep Youngkin defeats Dem McAuliffe for Virginia governor. That’s a Republican GAIN.
11:32am Republicans are currently leading in 17 Dem-held seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates, compared with one Dem lead in a Rep-held seat. This is getting UGLY for Democrats.
11:25am Youngkin leads by 55.3-44.0 with 47% in. Dave Wasserman has been tweeting final county result that show Youngkin doing better than what he needs.
11:13am With 42% in in Ohio’s 15th, Rep Carey leads by 54.1-45.9. His lead should increase further as more election day votes are counted. The Ohio 11th has been called for Dem Brown with an 82-18 lead, but election day votes are likely to reduce that margin.
11:07am With 41% in, Youngkin leads by 55.7-43.6. Nate Cohn is getting more confident that Youngkin will win by about 2%.
10:52am In Ohio’s 15th, Republican Carey leads Dem Russo by 51.2-48.8 with 22% in. That’s probably early votes, and election day votes can be expected to be far more Rep-favouring.
10:48am 26% in, and Youngkin leads by 52.0-47.3.
10:43am Youngkin leads by 54.7-44.6 with 14% in. New York Times analyst Nate Cohn thinks Youngkin is doing well enough to win.
10:33am With an estimated 8% in, Youngkin leads by 51.9-47.5.
10:27am Some Dem votes have reported, and Youngkin leads by 53-46 with an estimated 5% in.
10:23am Wednesday Early results for Virginia governor have Republican Youngkin leading Democrat McAuliffe by 68-31. Exit polls suggest a narrow lead for Youngkin.
Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.
Contests for governor of Virginia and New Jersey will be held today, as well as two federal by-elections in Ohio. Polls close at 10am AEDT in Virginia, 10:30am in Ohio and 11am in New Jersey.
The final FiveThirtyEight aggregate in Virginia gives Republican Youngkin a 47.9-47.0 lead over Democrat McAuliffe (McAuliffe by 0.1 last Friday). Joe Biden won Virginia by ten points at the 2020 election, so any loss would be demoralising for Democrats, and a narrow win hardly something to celebrate.
Four late polls in New Jersey give Democrat incumbent Murphy four to nine point leads, but Biden won NJ by 16 points, so this polling is still consistent with a sizeable swing to Republicans.
For the US House by-elections, Biden won the Ohio 11th by more than 60%, while Donald Trump won the Ohio 15th by 14% according to Daily Kos elections. While both districts are expected to be held by the incumbent party, swings from the 2020 results will be interesting. A mid-October poll in the 15th gave the Republican an 11-point lead.
Biden’s ratings are currently at 50.7% disapprove, 42.9% approve in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate (net -7.8), a further 0.5-point slide on net approval since Friday. Biden’s ratings are making it difficult for Democrats, and they’ll need his ratings to be in positive net approval to have a realistic chance to hold the House and Senate at the 2022 midterm elections.
I thought Virginia would skew Republican in early results as low population counties reported first. However, a comment by ChrisC on Friday’s article says that Virginia has made changes to how early votes are processed, and that we should have results from early votes soon after polls close in the whole state. This will skew the first votes counted to Democrats. In 2020, election day votes were very pro-Trump, and we will need to see complete results for counties before drawing conclusions.
Japanese election: landslide for the LDP
At Sunday’s Japanese election, the conservative LDP won 261 of the 465 lower house seats (down 23 since the 2017 election, but well over the 233 required for a majority). The LDP’s Komeito allies won 32 (up three), the centre-left Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) 96 (up 41) and the populist right Nippon 41 (up 30).
The LDP dominated the first-past-the-post seats, winning 189 of 289 with 57 for the CDP, on vote shares of 48.1% to 30.0%. The LDP has only been out of government for two brief periods since 1955.