Midterms: The di­vides are red­der, bluer, deeper

Re­sults so­lid­ify the differ­ences be­tween par­ties

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Su­san Page Colum­nist

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 reflect two Amer­i­cas that have conflict­ing 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 sig­nificant 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 flipped 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.

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