What Does the 2018 Vote Say About 2020?

For some reason I was noodling about the 2020 election today and suddenly wondered what the 2018 congressional results would look like if you converted them to presidential votes. That is, if you look at which party got the highest popular vote in each state, and then added up what that comes to in Electoral College votes, which party would have won the presidency? Luckily for me, it turns out that Nate Silver was curious about this exact same thing on the day after the election, and he created a nice map that was exactly what I was looking for:

Obviously this is not a perfect projection, and lots of things can happen in two years. Still, even if you look at only the states in dark blue—the ones that weren’t even close—it adds up to an Electoral College total of 278 for Democrats.

At the same time, you might also notice that this depends on Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin all coming back home to the Democratic Party. Is that going to happen, or will Trump manage to con them again about his intense love for the working man?¹ That’s impossible to predict.

Roughly speaking, though, this suggests that if Democrats nominate someone who’s nothing more than as popular as the average Democrat, they’ll probably win. Especially since it’s my guess that the economy is going to turn down at least modestly between now and the end of next year.

POSTSCRIPT: This is all part and parcel of my belief that Donald Trump was something of a fluke and Republicans know perfectly well that they’re demographically doomed. It’s true that a lot of people—including me—have been saying this for a long time, and it’s continued not to come true. So why should it come true now? That’s simple: the non-white share of the population really does keep going up and Trump has now irreparably identified Republicans as the party of white racism. It’s hard for me to see him winning in 2020, and it’s hard for me to see the Republican Party winning much of anything for the decade after that. Somehow they need to reinvent themselves as a conservative party sans racism, and that’s going to take a while.

Am I wearing rose-colored glasses? Could be. God knows that Republicans have a seemingly bottomless bag of chicanery to suppress the vote of non-whites. But eventually the tide is going to come in no matter how hard they work on shoring up the dike of white identity politics. I think 2020 is it for them.

¹Gendered usage deliberate.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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