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In a new column for Bloomberg, Al Hunt highlights the critical role minority voters played in this year’s midterm elections.
Hunt’s piece is excerpted below and available online here.
Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in the midterm election this month by dominating the suburbs in every region of the country. That phenomenon has been amply analyzed since Nov. 6. Less remarked upon but just as important is the drubbing the Republican Party took in places with significant numbers of nonwhite voters.
In districts where the voting-age population is more than one-quarter nonwhite, Democrats won 15 Republican-held seats, or almost 40 percent of their 39-seat gain nationally. Of the 100 largest nonwhite districts, Republicans now hold only seven. Of the top 200, Democrats hold 154.
… The phenomenon was amplified this year by the presence of President Donald Trump; nonwhite voters turned out to vote against his party in unusual numbers. Latinos appear to have voted in about the same proportion as they did in the 2016 presidential election, and went solidly for Democrats. Trump’s hostility to immigrants and members of minority groups clearly was a major factor.
… Minority voters made the difference for Democratic victors in two affluent Texas districts with long Republican traditions.
In Houston, a seat that Republicans held for more than half a century starting with George H.W. Bush went to Democrat Lizzie Fletcher over incumbent John Culberson, who foolishly embraced Trump. She won by five percentage points, attracting lots of college-educated women. But it was the nonwhite turnout, 25 percent to 30 percent of the total, that delivered her victory.
… The biggest upset on election night was in Oklahoma City, where Democratic challenger Kendra Horn defeated Republican Representative Steve Russell; 15 percent to 20 percent of the vote was nonwhite. (Another decisive factor there was the $400,000 spent on Horn’s behalf by Michael R. Bloomberg, the owner of Bloomberg LP and a major supporter of Democratic candidates this year.)
Democrats have long expected to benefit from the demographic changes in the U.S. population, an assumption that grew stronger with the 2008 election and 2012 re-election of President Barack Obama. Trump’s 2016 victory, propelled by white voters, led many Democrats to challenge the notion that demography would become political destiny — or to acknowledge that the changes might be slower than they had anticipated.
Gersh, a hard-edged realist with an encyclopedic knowledge of congressional districts (he predicted a Democratic pickup of 38) thinks the turning point has now arrived, at least when it comes to House elections.
“As the United States turns more diverse,” Gersh said last week, “the current version of the Trump-Republican Party coalition is headed for extinction, or at the very least faces an insuperable disadvantage.”