Midterms: The divides are redder, bluer, deeper
Results solidify the differences between parties
WASHINGTON — Divided we stand. Red states got redder. Blue districts got bluer. And the chasm between Republicans and Democrats got deeper.
The hotly fought midterm elections delivered control of the House to Democrats, increased the Senate majority for Republicans and gave each side some of the gubernatorial victories they wanted most.
In day-after news conferences Wednesday, both President Donald Trump and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi talked glowingly of the possibility of bipartisan cooperation on a range of issues.
But that may prove to be a distant prospect. In Tuesday’s elections, divisions between the two parties were sharply drawn based not only on ideology but also on race, gender, age, education and geography. The political exploitation of those divisions is one factor that has contributed to the growing unwillingness by some partisans to see the other side as warranting respect and cooperation.
The two parties reflect two Americas that have conflicting perspectives and priorities. That was apparent in election returns and exit polls of voters sponsored by a media consortium including ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC. Here’s how voters are sorting out:
By education: White workingclass voters were once part of the Democratic coalition, and white college-educated voters in the past tended to vote Republican. Now Trump has drawn whites without a college degree to the GOP and helped propel those who have a college diploma to the Democrats. In the last midterm election, in 2014, those better-educated whites voted for Republican congressional candidates by 16 percentage points. On Tuesday, they backed Democrats by 10 points, 55 to 44 percent.
In contrast, white men without a college diploma supported Republicans by 31 points, 65-34 percent.
By age: The rising generation, those 18 to 29 years old, supported Democratic congressional candidates by 12 points in 2014. That preference has become much more pronounced. This time, they backed Democrats by a yawning 35 points.
By gender: Women voted for Democratic congressional candidates by 60-39 percent. The most significant swing was among college-educated suburban women. In the 2014 midterm, they supported Republicans by two points. On Tuesday, they backed Democrats by 23 points, 61-38 percent.
By geography: Three of the Senate Democrats that Republican managed to oust were all in more rural states, Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota. Meanwhile, Democrats flipped House seats in suburbs, even in some of the nation’s reddest states, including in suburban areas around Charleston, S.C., Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City.
Congress returns to Washington next week for a post-election session. On the table will be one of the most pressing issues — the need to fund the government or risk a partial shutdown — and one of the most controversial ones, the debate over money for Trump’s signature proposal to build a wall along the southern border.
The partisan divisions are likely to be in full display, a prospect that seems to be no surprise to voters. There was bipartisan agreement on that in the exit polls: Nearly eight in 10 said that Americans are becoming more politically divided.