Sabatos Crystal Ball

Medicare for All a Vote Loser in 2018 U.S. House Elections

Alan I. Abramowitz, Senior Columnist, Sabato's Crystal Ball November 14th, 2019

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KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— “Medicare for All” has been a major issue in the Democratic primary race. But it also came up a lot in the 2018 cycle.

— A regression analysis comparing the performance of 2018 Democratic House candidates shows that those who supported Medicare for All performed worse than those who did not, even when controlling for other factors.

— Democratic presidential candidates would do well to take heed of these results, particularly as the eventual nominee determines what he or she wishes to emphasize in the general election.

Medicare for All: A warning from 2018

“Medicare for All” has emerged as a key issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination campaign. Two of the leading candidates, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have made Medicare for All a central issue in their campaigns. Warren’s and Sanders’ proposals would abolish private health insurance in the U.S. within a few years and move all Americans into a government health plan based on the current Medicare program but with no copayments or deductibles.

Several Democratic candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden, who has led in most national polls, have been highly critical of this idea. These candidates, along with a number of health policy experts and pundits, have attacked Sanders’ and Warren’s Medicare for All proposal as prohibitively expensive and politically unrealistic. They have also argued that embracing Medicare for All would alienate many independents and moderate Democrats and risk costing Democrats the electoral votes of several key swing states.

But 2020 is not the first election in which Medicare for All was an important campaign issue. It was also debated extensively during the 2018 midterm elections. By examining the impact of Medicare for All on the results of the 2018 U.S. House elections, we may gain some insights into how this issue could affect the 2020 presidential election.

Fortunately, we have very good information about the positions taken by Democratic House candidates on Medicare for All based on their responses to a survey conducted by a group advocating for this policy, National Nurses United. According to the results of this survey, 51% (219 of 429 districts included in the survey) of Democratic House candidates endorsed a version of Medicare for All supported by NNU — one that is fairly close to that proposed by Sanders and Warren.

Table 1: Support for Medicare for All among Democratic House candidates by district partisanship

Notes: District Partisanship based on 2016 presidential vote margin. A handful of districts were not included because there either was no Democratic nominee or the Democratic nominee had not yet been determined at time of survey release.

Source: Survey of Democratic House candidates by National Nurses United and data compiled by author.

Not surprisingly, support for Medicare for All was most prevalent among Democratic candidates running in safe Democratic districts. As the data in Table 1 show, fully 73% of Democratic candidates in districts that Hillary Clinton won by a margin of at least 20 points supported Medicare for All. However, the data in Table 1 show that the lowest level of support for Medicare for All was not in strongly Republican districts but in districts that leaned Republican — those that voted narrowly for Donald Trump in 2016. These findings suggest that Democratic candidates were least likely to support Medicare for All in marginally Republican districts where it could reduce their chances of winning.

Table 2: Outcomes of House elections by candidate position on Medicare for All for Democratic challengers and open seat candidates in competitive districts

Source: National Nurses United and data compiled by author

The evidence in Table 2 suggests that Democrats in marginal House districts were right to be concerned about the potential impact of Medicare for All on their electoral prospects. This table displays the relationship between the Democratic candidate’s position on Medicare for All and the election results in 60 competitive House districts — districts that featured no incumbent running or a Republican incumbent seeking another term where Donald Trump won or lost by a margin of less than 10 points. These 60 districts accounted for at least 31 of the 40 net seats gained by Democrats in 2018.[1]

The results in Table 2 show that Democratic candidates supporting Medicare for All did substantially worse than those who did not — winning only 45% of their races compared with 72% for the non-supporters. Their average vote margin of 0.5 percentage points was also somewhat worse than the average vote margin of 3.5 points for the non-supporters. This was true despite the fact that in terms of 2016 presidential vote margin, the districts of supporters were somewhat more Democratic (average Clinton margin of -0.2 points) than the districts of non-supporters (average Clinton margin of -2.7 points). However, non-supporters did spend more money on their campaigns than supporters — an average of nearly $5 million compared with an average of $4.2 million.

Table 3: Regression analysis of vote margins for Democratic challengers and open seat candidates in competitive districts

Source: National Nurses United and data compiled by author

In order to further explore the impact of Medicare for All on the results of these competitive House contests, we need to conduct a multivariate analysis controlling for other factors influencing the outcomes. Table 3 presents the results of a multiple regression analysis of the House results in these 60 districts. The dependent variable here is the Democratic margin in the House election. The independent variables are the Democratic presidential margin in the district in 2016, a dummy variable for districts with a Republican incumbent (vs. open seat contests), the natural logarithm of Democratic campaign spending, the natural logarithm of Republican campaign spending[2] and, finally, whether the Democratic candidate supported Medicare for All.

The results in Table 3 indicate that after controlling for all of the other variables affecting the outcomes of these contests, Democratic candidates who endorsed Medicare for All did significantly worse than those who did not. The estimated coefficient of -4.6 indicates that support for Medicare for All cost Democratic candidates in these competitive districts almost five points of vote margin — a substantial effect in a close election.

Conclusions

An analysis of the impact of Medicare for All on the 2018 House elections indicates that Democratic challengers and open seat candidates in competitive districts who endorsed a version of Medicare for All similar to that proposed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren did significantly worse than those who did not. This negative effect, close to five points of margin after controlling for a variety of other factors, was clearly large enough to affect the outcomes of some House contests.

It is possible that the estimated effect of Medicare for All was a byproduct of other differences between supporters and non-supporters. For example, supporters might have taken more liberal positions on a variety of other issues as well as Medicare for All. Even if that is the case, however, these findings are not encouraging to supporters of Medicare for All. They indicate that candidates in competitive races who take positions to the left of the median voter could get punished at the polls. Democratic presidential candidates would do well to take heed of these results, particularly as the eventual nominee determines what he or she wishes to emphasize in the general election.

Alan I. Abramowitz is the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University and a senior columnist with Sabato’s Crystal Ball. His latest book, The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump, was released last year by Yale University Press.

Footnotes

[1] There were a few districts in Pennsylvania in which the party of the current incumbent could not be determined due to court-ordered redistricting.

[2] The natural logarithm of spending is used to account for diminishing returns on spending. This measure works far better than simple spending or difference in spending measures.


In Close Runoff, Democrats Try to Finish Strong in Louisiana

And the presidential shades of Virginia’s state-level results last week

J. Miles Coleman, Associate Editor, Sabato's Crystal Ball November 14th, 2019

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KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— In advance of Saturday’s runoff gubernatorial election in Louisiana, the data point to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) as a small favorite.

— We’re moving our rating there from Toss-up to Leans Democratic, but even if Edwards holds on, it may not be by much.

— In the aftermath of Virginia’s election, we found some further signs of nationalization in the results.

Table 1: Crystal Ball gubernatorial ratings change

Governor Old Rating New Rating
John Bel Edwards (D-LA) Toss-up Leans Democratic

One last look at the Bayou battle

Star New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees often implores his team to “finish strong.” As Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) faces his runoff with businessman Eddie Rispone (R) on Saturday, there are some signs that Louisiana’s Democratic electorate is doing just that. But it’s still an open question as to whether that will be enough for Edwards.

In last month’s jungle primary, national Democrats hoped Edwards could clear 50% to win outright. Instead, the governor polled at 46.6%. That was better than the 42% that former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) took in her 2014 Senate primary — she would lose the runoff 56%-44% to now-Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) — but not an ideal result. Rispone clinched a runoff spot, narrowly edging out Rep. Ralph Abraham (R, LA-5), who is popular in his northern Louisiana district but couldn’t match Rispone’s strength in the more populous metro areas.

In the primary, subpar black turnout was the most obvious factor that held Edwards below 50%. State analyst and pollster John Couvillon estimated that black voters made up 26.5% of the primary electorate. By comparison, even in a hostile midterm, Sen. Landrieu was able to generate a 30% black electorate in both her primary and runoff.

Looking to Saturday, the early vote suggests that Democrats are turning out their base. With early voting for the runoff concluded, the returns paint a more promising picture for Edwards. Compared to the electorate that voted early in the primary, all but six parishes have seen an increase in the black share of their voters (Map 1). Statewide, nearly 490,000 votes were cast early, the highest amount ever in a non-presidential race, and black voters accounted for 31%, a prerequisite for a Democratic win.

Map 1: Change in black share of the early vote from the 2019 Louisiana primary to runoff

East Baton Rouge Parish (which contains Baton Rouge proper) and Caddo Parish (Shreveport) both saw robust 9.4 percentage point increases in their black composition. Jefferson Parish, a large suburb of New Orleans, was not far behind, with an 8.5-point uptick.

Though it’s not one of the most populous parishes, Morehouse, in the northeastern corner of the state, should be worth watching on Saturday. By registration, it’s split almost evenly between black and white voters. Edwards’ 56% there in 2015 matched his statewide share. In the primary, Abraham carried it with 43% to Edwards’s 42% (it’s in his 5th Congressional District), but since then, it’s seen the most acute spike in black enthusiasm, 13 points.

While the standard caveats apply — namely, that the strong early vote tallies could be a cannibalization of Election Day numbers, particularly as early voting becomes more and more popular in Louisiana (and elsewhere) — the consistently lagging black vote during the early voting period in the primary was a harbinger that Edwards would fall under 50%. This time, the early vote suggests — perhaps — a reversal of fortune.

For his part, as a Republican in a red state, Rispone has leaned heavily on President Trump. While this may be shrewd from a messaging perspective, at this late stage mobilization is paramount, and the numbers suggest Republicans are being outmaneuvered. Further, last week’s results in Kentucky showed that the president’s support has its limitations even in red states; despite an election eve rally, Trump couldn’t salvage Gov. Matt Bevin’s (R) prospects.

Rispone entered the runoff having to distance himself from controversial GOP donor Lane Grigsby. This came to a head when Rob Maness, a two-time Senate candidate who has a following with conservatives, cited Grigsby and Rispone as his reasons for leaving the GOP. While these quarrels in and of themselves may not sway swing voters, they hardly project a unified state party.

Rispone has never actually led Edwards in public polling, although the surveys have shown a very close race that is within the margin of error. Two polls this week, one from Mason-Dixon and another from GOP pollster Cygnal, each had Edwards leading, but by only two points.

Despite the tight margins, Edwards’ approval/favorability stood at a solid 54% in each poll. While it’s rare that governors with that type of standing find themselves in such contested races, it suggests that, if Rispone finishes ahead, it will be primarily due to the red nature of the state. Last week, Gov.-elect Andy Beshear (D) narrowly overcame Kentucky’s Republican statewide leanings to defeat the unpopular Bevin; can Edwards, as an incumbent, do the same?

Ultimately, the data collectively suggest Edwards is a modest favorite for reelection. If the governor’s showing in the primary were more like Landrieu’s 42% in 2014, we’d feel much more bullish about the GOP’s chances. As Edwards’ 46.6% was several points better, and the early vote indicates a more Democratic electorate in the runoff than in the primary, it just seems like he has a clearer path to 50% than Rispone. We’re changing our rating for Louisiana from Toss-up to Leans Democratic.

That said, the race remains very close and competitive, and even if Edwards wins, it likely won’t be by much.

In Virginia, legislative results portend 2020 shifts

Virginia’s 2019 state legislative election further aligned the state’s districts along 2016 presidential voting results. Going into the election, we noted that Democrats held no seats won by Donald Trump in 2016 in either the state House of Delegates or state Senate, and that Republicans held seven House districts and four state Senate seats won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Democrats flipped two of the four GOP-held Clinton districts in the Senate to forge a 21-19 majority, but Republicans held onto their other two Clinton-won Senate seats, both of which were closely decided both for president in 2016 and for Senate last week (SD-7 and SD-12).

In the House, five of the six Democratic gains came in Clinton-won districts held by Republicans, some of which had become more Democratic in a redistricting ordered by a federal court in advance of the 2019 election. The sixth Democratic gain came in an open seat, HD-28, that Trump carried by about a point in 2016. Meanwhile, Republicans held two Clinton-won districts (HD-66 and HD-100).

In other words, the 2019 Virginia results were defined largely by presidential partisanship. Overall, Clinton carried 56 of 100 districts under the new, partially court-drawn Virginia House of Delegates map, and Democrats won a 55-45 majority. In the state Senate, under a map drawn by Democrats at the start of the decade, Clinton carried 23 of 40 districts, and Democrats won a 21-19 majority.

With the legislature under their control, Democrats in the Commonwealth will now turn their attention to 2020. At the senatorial level, Sen. Mark Warner (D) will run for a third term. As we’ve noted in previous articles, Warner has done a better job finding crossover support in rural areas of the state than most other Democrats. Though he faced an unexpectedly close race in 2014, he won, in part, thanks to his uncommon appeal in Appalachia.

Compared to fellow Sen. Tim Kaine (D), who was reelected in a 57%-41% landslide, Warner ran a bit better in rural western parts of the state while the Urban Crescent powered much of Kaine’s overperformance (Map 2).

Map 2: Change in Virginia U.S. Senate races, 2014 to 2018

Loudoun County, which swung 29% more Democratic, and Alleghany County, which moved 36% more Republican, experienced some of the sharpest swings between the elections. Taken together, they offer concrete clues about how the 2020 Senate map could shape up.

One of the most seemingly anachronistic features of Warner’s 2014 map was that he lost Loudoun County, albeit by less than 500 votes. A swing county in the Obama era, Northern Virginia’s Loudoun is the wealthiest county in the state and has reacted especially poorly to Trump’s populist brand of Republicanism.

In her successful 2016 reelection, former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R, VA-10) lost it by just 165 votes out of the nearly 180,000 it cast, even as Trump lost there by 17 points. In 2018, fueled by a suburban blue wave, then-state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D) carried Loudoun County by 20% in her victory over Comstock.

At the legislative level, similar trends have taken hold there. In 2015, GOP candidates won the popular vote 55%-45%, to maintain a majority of the Loudoun delegation in the House of Delegates. Last week, Democratic candidates won nearly two-thirds of the popular vote there (although this was inflated somewhat due to uncontested races). Given this movement, it seems that Warner almost certainly will gain Loudoun County back in 2020 (he carried it in his landslide 2008 Senate race).

In Appalachia, one of the few rural counties that Warner carried was Alleghany, which sits in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley. Warner posted a comfortable 53%-44% margin there in 2014; by 2018, Kaine took just 36%.

In the state Senate, Alleghany County is in SD-25, held by Democrat Creigh Deeds, a fixture in local politics. Deeds was the party’s nominee in the 2009 gubernatorial race — despite losing the election with just 41% statewide, he cleared 60% in Allegheny.

SD-25 bridges several rural counties in the Shenandoah Valley to liberal Charlottesville (the Center for Politics’ home base). Though he’s from rural Bath County, and has traditionally done well in the western counties, Deeds was reliant on the Charlottesville part of his district last week. Though he was reelected with 67.5%, Deeds’ western counties defected to Elliott Harding, an independent candidate who previously worked for Republicans (Map 3). Going forward, it may be hard to see how Warner can replicate his 2014 margin in Alleghany County if a proven local figure like Deeds can’t carry it.

If this indeed happens in 2020, it’s a great tradeoff for Warner: Loudoun cast 183,050 votes in the 2016 presidential race, while Alleghany cast only 7,325. There are lots of counties like Alleghany in western Virginia that are moving red, but they are not densely populated — and the blue trend in Loudoun and several other big Virginia counties has been more electorally significant statewide.

Map 3: Virginia Senate District 25 in 2019

— Kyle Kondik contributed to this article.


Election 2019: Another Win for Democrats in Virginia Pushes State Further off the Competitive Map

Bevin blows it in Kentucky; Mississippi remains out of reach for Democrats; mixed signals confirm larger trends

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman, Sabato's Crystal Ball November 7th, 2019

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KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Virginia moves from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic in our Electoral College ratings in the wake of a fourth straight November that has broken in the Democrats’ favor.

— Gov. Matt Bevin’s (R) apparent loss in Kentucky is more of a personal repudiation of him than a broader loss for Republicans.

— Mississippi remains elusive for Democrats, and other results nationally represented a mixed bag for the parties.

Table 1: Crystal Ball Electoral College ratings change

State Old Rating New Rating
Virginia Leans Democratic Likely Democratic

Virginia: The New Democratic Dominion

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Virginia by five points while winning the national popular vote by two (and losing the Electoral College). This was the most Democratic the state had voted for president, relative to the nation, since FDR was in the White House. The following year, Democrats held all three statewide offices by surprisingly large margins, and made an eye-popping gain of 15 net seats in the state House of Delegates, coming within a drawing in a tied race from forging a 50-50 tie in the body. Last year, Democrats netted three U.S. House seats and Sen. Tim Kaine (D) was reelected easily. And then on Tuesday night, Democrats netted what appears to be a half-dozen seats in the state House and two in the state Senate to win total control of state government in Richmond.

Are you sensing a theme? We are.

Virginia was trending Democratic even before Donald Trump, with the party boosted by growing shares of Democratic-leaning demographic groups in the state’s three big urban areas (Northern Virginia, Greater Richmond, and Hampton Roads). And since Trump arrived on the scene, the state’s Democratic trend has continued, as once-Republican suburban areas have moved ever-further to the left.

There has been a lot of debate this week in election circles about the presidential election, now one year away. Two respected polls fueled this debate: In one, a poll of six key swing states from the New York Times Upshot/Siena College, Trump was locked in close races against the top-polling Democrats (Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren), with Biden performing the best against Trump and Warren the worst. A national ABC News/Washington Post poll, meanwhile, showed all three Democrats trouncing Trump, with leads ranging from 14-17 points.

Even if one grants that Trump is likely to again run better in the most decisive states than he does nationally, these polls don’t really tell the same story.

But what we do feel fairly confident saying is that 1. Trump is a clear underdog to win the national popular vote, if not the Electoral College, and 2. Recent results suggest that Virginia should once again vote more Democratic than the nation. So we’re moving the state further toward the Democrats for president, shifting it from Leans Democratic in our ratings to Likely Democratic.

In terms of the actual results, Democrats ended up doing better in the state House of Delegates than the state Senate, although a lot of this was because the close races broke toward the Republicans in the Senate but more toward the Democrats in the House. It appears that the Democrats won only 21 of the 40 state Senate seats, creating just a narrow majority, but their two pickups were by nearly 10 points apiece, and no Democratic incumbent was seriously threatened. Meanwhile, Republicans held on to four of the 19 seats they apparently won by margins ranging from less than a point to about 4.5 points.

In the House of Delegates, a court-ordered new district map clearly helped Democrats: Four of their six apparent pickups came in seats that got a lot more Democratic in redistricting. That said, Democrats also picked up two additional seats that were unaffected by redistricting, and they only needed two seats to take control. So the redistricting clearly helped, although perhaps Democrats could have won the House on the old map: It’s hard to know definitively one way or the other and a statewide campaign on the old map would have been run differently than the one run on the new one.

Speaking of redistricting, newly-empowered Democrats now face a test on that question. Last year, the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed the first reading of a proposed state constitutional amendment that would establish an independent redistricting commission. The new Democratic-controlled General Assembly will have to decide whether to pass it a second time, which would trigger a statewide vote on the commission next November, or scuttle it and exercise gerrymandering power themselves in 2021. It’s a test of principle for Democrats, who have nationally called for nonpartisan redistricting as a response to aggressive GOP gerrymandering in many key states following the 2010 elections.

Richmond will be a hotbed of activity early next year as legislators descend on the former capital of the Confederacy with an agenda that will be as liberal as any that the once solidly-conservative state has ever seen. But by the time the presidential general election begins in earnest, the national focus seems very likely to be elsewhere.

If Virginia is truly in play for president next year, something has gone wrong for Democrats.

Kentucky: Bevin’s flop obscures GOP trend

“He’s such a pain in the a–, but that’s what you want.” — Donald Trump at a Monday night rally in Lexington for Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY).

Well, actually, they didn’t. In the upset of the evening, Bevin apparently lost to state Attorney General Andy Beshear (D), 49.2%-48.8%. Beshear was powered to victory by an anti-Bevin vote in ancestrally Democratic counties in eastern Kentucky combined with big margins in Louisville and Lexington and a good showing in Northern Kentucky (which features suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio). In our preview last week, we flagged Campbell County in Northern Kentucky as a must-win for Beshear; he won it by five points, and he carried its neighbor, Kenton, as well. So Beshear cobbled together enough of a coalition of old Democratic areas of Kentucky and newer ones to beat Bevin, who arguably is the most unpopular governor in the United States. Bevin has not yet conceded and may try to contest the result.

Breaking the state down into congressional districts, Bevin lost ground in five of the state’s six districts (Map 1). The Louisville-based 3rd District — where both candidates hail from — saw the largest swing to Beshear. In the 2015 gubernatorial race, then-state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) carried it by a handsome 21.5%; this week, Beshear took that up to an outright punishing 37.4% margin.

Map 1: Kentucky 2015 – 2019 gubernatorial change by congressional district

Districts 2, 4 and 6 are all anchored in metro areas (Bowling Green/Owensboro, Cincinnati, and Lexington, respectively), but also take in broad rural swaths. They all swung at least 5% to Beshear. Of these, Bevin’s showing in KY-6 may be his most embarrassing. President Trump campaigned there the night before the election — only for the district to move 11% more Democratic, greater than the overall statewide shift.

Outside of the major Bluegrass State metros, its two most rural districts saw a divergence. In western Kentucky, the governor slightly improved in the 1st Congressional District. Interestingly, this seat is held by Rep. James Comer (R), who nearly beat Bevin in the 2015 gubernatorial primary because of his strength in this region. Earlier this cycle, Comer considered running for a rematch — in hindsight, had he followed through and won the primary, he would have been a much clearer favorite to keep the governorship red.

KY-1 is 63% rural by composition, so it’s exactly the type of area that has drifted rightward in the Trump era. In a vacuum, the Appalachian KY-5 would have been susceptible to the same trends. However, state Rep. Rocky Adkins (D), who hails from the region, likely proved to be an effective surrogate for Beshear in the rural east, and the region also has some clearer ancestral pockets of Democratic strength. Bevin also performed weakly in this area in his primary, a warning sign that manifested itself in the general election.

The race appeared very close but most expected Kentucky’s Republicanism to carry Bevin over the finish line. But he couldn’t dig his way out of the hole he dug for himself through his abrasive personality and battles with key constituencies, namely teachers.

The statewide turn to the GOP outside of the gubernatorial race was evident down the ballot: Beshear was the only statewide Democratic candidate who won, and Republicans won open-seat races for secretary of state and attorney general in addition to holding the rest of the other statewide offices.

Those interpreting Beshear’s victory as a major warning sign for unpopular Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) need to reckon with what happened in these other races, as well as the fact that McConnell will be running as a federal incumbent, not a state-level one, and that he will be sharing the ballot with Donald Trump, who still should win statewide in a landslide. We continue to rate the Senate race as Likely Republican.

In the end, Bevin’s nationalization message in the closing days of the campaign couldn’t quite get him a second term. Our sense is that the problem was less the message than the messenger. A Republican running statewide in Kentucky these days has to try to lose. Bevin tried for four years, and succeeded.

That said, the president chose to stake his personal capital on Bevin through his Election Eve appearance. From that standpoint, the result is a loss for the president, even though we don’t think it has broader significance beyond Kentucky.

Mississippi stays Republican, mixed signals elsewhere

Of the three big races on Tuesday night, Mississippi seemed like the best bet to stick with the Republicans, and it did in the gubernatorial race. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) beat state Attorney General Jim Hood (D) by a little less than six points. That margin was a little bit closer than but fairly similar to last year’s Senate special election, when Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) beat former Rep. Mike Espy (D) by seven points.

Compared to Espy’s 2018 showing, Hood posted modest gains in metro Jackson and along the Gulf Coast, but couldn’t match Espy’s numbers in the heavily African-American delta, or near the Memphis exurbs (Map 2). Hood’s most acute improvements came in his home region, the northeast, but the area cast relatively few votes and Hood himself took under 25% in most counties there. Trump rallied in the northeast late last week, and here the evidence is better for the president’s argument that he helped his party (as opposed to the Kentucky rally in Lexington). In order to make up Espy’s deficit, Hood needed to improve on Espy’s showing in more places than he did.

Map 2: Change from 2018 to 2019 in Mississippi 

Republicans also won the open attorney general’s office held by Hood — this was the first time the party won that race since Reconstruction.

Other results across the nation showed the confirmation of larger trends, with suburban areas moving more toward Democrats and other kinds of places, specifically rural and/or white-working class ones, trending Republican. We aren’t going to offer a total rundown of every race, but here are some potentially illuminating results:

— Democrats did well in local races in some suburban counties in greater Philadelphia, helping solidify an anti-Republican trend in those places, but Republicans made some local gains in some ancestrally Democratic western Pennsylvania counties that have been trending Republican at the federal level.

— In New Jersey, Republicans won a special election for the state Senate seat previously held by Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D, NJ-2) in South Jersey and also captured the Trump-won district’s two state assembly seats. While New Jersey as a whole is trending Democratic, Republicans made up some ground in the state legislature and confirmed the GOP trend in this part of the state. Meanwhile, Van Drew’s decision to vote against the Trump impeachment inquiry last week — he was one of only two House Democrats to do so — makes even more sense now, given the political terrain he is trying to defend.

— Democrats won a special election to capture a previously-GOP held seat in the Missouri House of Representatives contained within the suburban U.S. House district held by Rep. Ann Wagner (R, MO-2), who had a tougher race than she is accustomed to in 2018. Missouri itself is moving toward the Republicans, but again we see some signs of GOP weakness in the suburbs.

Overall, the changes reflected what we’ve been seeing over the past few years, although there are of course exceptions on any Election Day. These results don’t necessarily have predictive value for the future, but they do show the persistence of the big-picture factors that have been driving the nation’s political geography.

One thing we ask readers to consider is this: Don’t just focus on the trends that benefit your respective political party. Republicans have reason to be worried about big-city suburbs with higher levels of formal educational attainment, but Democrats have reason to be worried about rural and white working-class areas with lower levels of college attainment. We sometimes feel like the former development gets more widespread attention, but the latter one matters quite a bit, too.

On to 2020!