Although Democrats contained a widely expected red wave in the 2022 midterms, Republican turnout was in fact stronger and the party energized key demographics, including women, Latinos and rural voters, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.
The report serves as a warning sign for Democrats ahead of the 2024 presidential election, as early polls point to a possible rematch between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump.
Although Democrats retained control of the Senate, all but one of their governor’s mansions and only narrowly lost the House, Pew data shows that a higher percentage of voters who supported Trump in 2020 cast their ballots in November than those who endorsed Biden. did. People who had voted in past elections but were left out in 2022 were overwhelmingly Democrats.
And for all the Democratic emphasis on finding Republican voters who can be persuaded to oppose their party in the Trump era, Pew found that the vast majority of voters stayed with the same party during the 2018 election. , 2020 and 2022. Only 6 percent of voters cast ballots for more than one party in those three elections, and those voters were more likely to be Democrats switching to Republican candidates than Republicans to Democratic candidates.
“A perennial debate among political analysts after each election is what was a bigger factor in the outcome: persuading voters to switch allegiances or getting more of their main party loyalists to vote,” said Hannah Hartig. , one of the Pew authors. report.
Voters who voted in 2018 but skipped the 2022 midterms had favored Democrats two to one in the 2018 election.
Democrats tried last year to energize these voters, seeking to inflate Trump’s profile and tie other Republicans to him. Mr. Biden coined the phrase “ultra-MAGA” to describe Republicans in an effort to engage Democratic voters.
In the end, what most likely got Democrats to the polls was less Biden’s actions than a broader reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade.
Dan Sena, former chief executive of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, said the Pew results suggested the key to 2024 would be persuading independent and moderate Republican voters who don’t like Biden or Trump to Support the Democrats. Abortion rights, he said, is the issue most likely to do so.
“There is a group of persuadable Republicans that the Democrats were able to win,” Sena said. “Those voters align very closely with those who see choice and personal freedom in health care in alignment..”
Pew’s analysis is based on a panel of more than 7,000 Americans whose attitudes and voting behavior the group has tracked over multiple election cycles. Pew also compared voters to state voter rolls to verify that they actually voted in 2022. Taken together, this provides a portrait of the 2022 electorate.
In most of the intervening years, the party not in the White House does well. And while the Republicans enjoyed a turnout advantage in 2022, they fell short of expectations and did not match the Democrats’ turnout advantage in 2018, the first midterm election after Trump took office.
Still, midterm voters are historically older and whiter than voters in presidential years, a phenomenon that tends to benefit Republicans. The 2018 midterm elections were, in many ways, the exception to that rule, with higher turnout across all age groups, but especially among the youth. The 2022 electorate was more in line with historical trends.
Much of the narrative around the 2022 election has focused on Democratic energy after the Supreme Court’s abortion decision. And while that played out in key gubernatorial races in states where abortion was on the ballot, nationally, Democrats appear to have lost ground with one crucial group: women.
In the 2018 election cycle, when increased activism, including the Women’s March, spurred record turnout among women, Democrats led by 18 percentage points. That lead narrowed to just three points in 2022, Pew found.
However, the study found that few women actually changed the party they supported. Instead, most of the fall for Democrats was due to the fact that Republican women voted at a higher rate than Democratic women.
Hispanic voters continued to support Democrats overall, but by a much smaller margin than four years earlier. In 2018, the Democrats won 72 percent of Hispanic voters, but in 2022 they won just 60 percent. The decline began in 2020, when Democrats also won about 60 percent of Hispanic voters.
And the Republicans also continued to increase the support of rural voters. The party made gains with them not only through increased turnout, but also among rural voters who had voted Democratic in the past but voted Republican in 2022.
“Trump’s base continues to be motivated,” said Corry Bliss, a Republican strategist who led the party’s House super PAC in 2018.
However, Mr. Bliss added: “In a handful of races that really matter, we had bad candidates, and in all the races that matter, we spent a hell of a lot more.”