The 2018 midterm elections brought sweeping changes to Congress, ushering a strong Democratic majority into the House of Representatives. The election also highlighted demographic changes that suggest the battleground states of the 2020 Presidential election may be much different than even those of the 2016 election, according to NBC News.
Three strong trends emerged from the exit polls and election results: the Republicans hold the edge with white voters, the Democrats have a growing advantage among college-educated voters, and there is a consistent Democratic favor among Hispanics. Despite a strong Democratic performance in the 2016 election in which Democrats picked up 35 seats in the House, Republicans still held a solid 10% advantage among white voters.
Those trends appear paramount in Ohio, long considered one of the battleground states in the presidential election. President Trump carried the state by eight points in 2016, but in the 2018 midterms there were two House seats and an open governor election that appeared to be highly competitive. Republicans controlled both House seats, which the Cook Political Report labeled as a “tossup” and one “lean Republican.” The gubernatorial election was also rated a “tossup.” However, both Republicans won their House seats by a comfortable margin, while Republican Mike DeWine eased into the Governor’s seat by four points. Considering how well the Democrats performed this year, those results stand out. However, they make sense when one considers Ohio’s demographics.
These are demographic comparisons of 2018 to 2014 for Georgia's early voters, same number of days prior to the election, notably younger, more persons of color, and slightly more women https://t.co/5XI6w9Vgjd
— Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) October 19, 2018
With a state population that is 79 percent white, non-Hispanic, Ohio is far above the national average of about 61 percent. The percentage of the population that is college-educated (27 percent) is three points below the national average, and the four percent Hispanic population is 14 points below the national average. So all three of the emerging factors favor Republicans in Ohio, making it much less likely to remain a battleground state in 2020.
The opposite can be said for Colorado, which Hillary Clinton carried by five points in 2016. In the 2018 midterms, Republican Mike Coffman was defending his House seat, while the gubernatorial election was an open contest to replace the outgoing John Hickenlooper. The Democratic House candidate, Jason Crow, crushed Coffman in the House race by 11 points, while Democrat Jared Polis captured the governor seat by ten.
The state’s demographics offer a suggestion as to why the Democratic victories were so resounding. While the state is slightly more white than the national average (68 percent to 61 percent), it also features a much higher percentage of college graduates (39 percent) and a relatively large Hispanic population (22 percent). When the demographics are compared to the midterm election results, it seems that the Democrats are solidifying their grip on the state, nearly removing it from contention in 2020.
The demographics and election results suggest that Georgia and Arizona may be coming closer to being swing states, as both are well below the national average for white, non-Hispanic population at 55 percent and both are near the national average for college-educated voters. It may be telling that both states saw close elections in the Georgia gubernatorial election and the Arizona senate race.