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Amica Nostra

The Fundamentals Favor Democrats In 2018

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https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-fundamentals-favor-democrats-in-2018/

Democrats had a really good night on Tuesday, easily claiming the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races, flipping control of the Washington state Senate and possibly also the Virginia House of Delegates, passing a ballot measure in Maine that will expand Medicaid in the state, winning a variety of mayoral elections around the country, and gaining control of key county executive seats in suburban New York.

They also got pretty much exactly the results you’d expect when opposing a Republican president with a 38 percent approval rating.

That’s not to downplay Democrats’ accomplishments. Democrats’ results were consistent enough, and their margins were large enough, that Tuesday’s elections had a wave-like feel. That includes how they performed in Virginia, where Ralph Northam won by considerably more than polls projected. When almost all the toss-up races go a certain way, and when the party winning those toss-up races also accomplishes certain things that were thought to be extreme long shots (such as possibly winning the Virginia House of Delegates), it’s almost certainly a reflection of the national environment.

But we didn’t need Tuesday night to prove that the national environment was good for Democrats; there was plenty of evidence for it already. In no particular order of importance:

So while Northam’s 9-point margin of victory was a surprise based on the polls, which had projected him to win by roughly 3 points instead,1 it was right in line with what you might expect based on these “fundamental” factors. For instance, a simple model we developed based on the generic ballot and state partisanship forecasted a 9-point win for Democrats in Virginia and a 13-point win in New Jersey, pretty much matching their actual results in each state.


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