Thursday, November 04, 2010

More Midterm Musings

Some more quick hits as we start to get some real data:

The best predictor of whether a Democratic incumbent would lose?  The underlying partisanship of their district.  Seems obvious, right?  In all the post mortems, John Sides at TheMonkeyCage reminds us that fundamentals matter.  Swing districts are the most likely candidates to flip.  Because swing districts are found across the country Tuesday's GOP gains, as I noted yesterday, were not concentrated in any one region.

On the turnout front, there are some indications that the Latino vote mattered quite a bit, especially out west.  The Democrats can perhaps thank Latino voters for keeping their Senate majority.  As the GOP wave swept westward, it lost momentum by the time it hit Colorado, Nevada, and California--three states with large Latino populations.  Nate Silver picks up on this from a polling perspective, showing how the polling in the states with the largest Latino populations tended to be the most off in terms of predicting winners.  A few weeks back I attended a forum at the Center for American Progress on the Latino vote.  I was going to do a post on it, but the event turned out to be kind of a dud.  Some interesting takeaways though was a discussion on the difference between primarily English or Spanish speaking Latinos.  Estimates are that about 40% of the Latino population is primarily Spanish speaking and that these voters tend to be more strongly Democratic than English speaking Latinos.

On the redistricting front, two states approved provisions to eliminate the gerrymandering of districts and take the process out of the hands of state legislators.  Moving in the direction of a state like Iowa, California and Florida will seek a redistricting process based solely on population numbers and geographical contiguity.  California and Florida are two of the most gerrymandered states in the country.

I'm going to have more to say about Wisconsin as we move forward, but suffice it to say, the results were staggering when compared to 2008.  Whereas President Obama outperformed his national average in the Badger State during the presidential race, Tuesday so a massive reversal of Wisconsin's recent voting trends.  Going into Tuesday, Wisconsin had 2 Democratic Senators, a 5/3 advantage for Dems. in the House delegation, a Democratic governor, and Democratic majorities in both houses of the State Legislature.  After Tuesday: Split Senate delegation, 5/3 Republican advantage in the House delegation, a Republican governor, and Republican majorities in both state houses.  An absolute wipeout.  This article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gives an excellent rundown of what happened at the top of the ballot, including an emphasis on turnout.  While turnout was high overall and constant in the big Democratic counties of Milwaukee and Dane, it surged in the suburbs surrounding Milwaukee (Ozaukee, Waukesha, and Washington), propelling Ron Johnson and Scott Walker to victory.  Not only that, but as the below maps show, their vote totals, down to the county level were virtually identical.

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