Election results: Red states get redder, blue districts bluer, the partisan divide deeper
WASHINGTON – Divided we stand.
Red states got redder. Blue districts got bluer. And the gulf 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. They reinforced a chasm between the two major parties that has been growing in the Age of Trump.
In day-after news conferences Wednesday, 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. This partisan realignment and the political exploitation of the divisions it reflects contributed to the growing unwillingness by some partisans to see the other side as warranting respect and cooperation.
The days of congressional delegations including liberal New England Republicans and conservative southern Democrats, once ameliorating forces when compromises were negotiated, are long gone.
Indeed, some of the more moderate House Republicans, those most likely to work across party lines, were ousted Tuesday. At his combative White House news conference, Trump mocked them by name – Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Mike Coffman of Colorado, Mia Love of Utah, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Peter Roskam of Illinois, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, John Faso of New York – for failing to embrace him more closely. "Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost," the president said. "Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia."
Some of the more centrist Senate Democrats, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, also were defeated.
Republicans are increasingly grounded in rural areas, small towns and the exurbs, drawing their most overwhelming support from white evangelicals and voters who don't have a college education, especially men. Democrats are increasingly centered in big cities and the suburbs that surround them, drawing their strongest support from African-Americans and college-educated women.
The two parties reflect two Americas that have conflicting 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, working-class voters were once part of the Democratic coalition, and white, college-educated voters in the past tended to vote Republican. 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 previous midterm election, in 2014, those better-educated whites voted for Republican congressional candidates by 16 percentage points. Tuesday, they backed Democrats by 11 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 significant swing was among college-educated suburban women. In the 2014 midterm, they supported Republicans by 2 points. Tuesday, they backed Democrats by 23 points, 61-38 percent.
By geography: Three of the Senate Democrats that Republicans ousted were in more rural states, Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota. Democrats flipped House seats in suburbs across the country, even in some of the nation's reddest states, including areas around Charleston, South Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Oklahoma City; and Salt Lake City.
Congress will return 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 Americans are becoming more politically divided.