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Foreign Policy Analysis
The nationwide trends Tuesday’s off-year election results reinforced

The nationwide trends Tuesday’s off-year election results reinforced


JUDY WOODRUFF: The day’s other major story:
the elections of 2019. Democrats are mostly smiling over Tuesday’s
returns, including the Kentucky governor’s race. But the Republican in that race is asking
officials to check the math. Amna Nawaz begins our coverage. ANDY BESHEAR (D), Kentucky Governor-Elect:
I want to say thank you to our union families that helped make this election happen. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) AMNA NAWAZ: In Kentucky, last night Democratic
Attorney General Andy Beshear claimed victory in the race to be governor of the Bluegrass
State. He finished about 5,300 votes, less than half
of 1 percent, ahead of incumbent Republican Matt Bevin. The governor today asked that elections officials
check all voting machines for possible errors. GOV. MATT BEVIN (R-KY): We simply want to ensure
that there is integrity in the process. We owe this to the people of Kentucky. AMNA NAWAZ: Bevin is a close ally of President
Trump, who carried Kentucky by 28 points in 2016, and held a rally in the state on Monday
night. Mr. Trump’s campaign manager said in a statement
that — quote — “The president just about dragged Governor Bevin across the finish line.” Beshear, the son of former Governor Steve
Beshear, plunged ahead today, taking up his action plan for education and other issues
in Louisville. ANDY BESHEAR: We’re going to start
bring Kentucky together by changing the tone, no more us vs. them, no more this side or
that side. This is about focusing on those core issues,
public education, pensions, health care and jobs, that are good for every single Kentucky
family. AMNA NAWAZ: Despite Bevin’s apparent defeat,
Kentucky Republicans swept the other statewide races, including David (sic) Cameron, who
will be the state’s first black attorney general. Elsewhere, Democrats in Virginia won majorities
in the House of Delegates and Senate for the first time in 25 years. Ghazala Hashmi became the first Muslim elected
to the Virginia Senate, after flipping her suburban Richmond district. GHAZALA HASHMI (D), Virginia State Senator-Elect:
This victory is not mine alone. It belongs to all of you who believed that
we need to make progressive change here in Virginia. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) AMNA NAWAZ: Democrats said they will use their
new power to pass gun control laws, especially universal background checks, and to approve
the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. TATE REEVES (R), Mississippi Governor-Elect:
This victory belongs to you. AMNA NAWAZ: Republicans did manage to hold
the Mississippi governor’s mansion. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves beat Democratic
Attorney General Jim Hood by six points in a state that President Trump carried by 17
points. The president congratulated the night’s GOP
winners in a series of tweets. Tonight, Mr. Trump is holding a rally for
the Republican running for governor in Louisiana. JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to take a closer look
at yesterday’s election results, I’m joined by Kyle Kondik. He is the managing editor of Larry Sabato’s
Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Kyle Kondik, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” KYLE KONDIK, University of Virginia: Thanks
for having me. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, these elections were across
the country. We just highlighted three of them just then. But let’s talk about what lessons we can maybe
learn from these results. Where did each party do well and why? KYLE KONDIK: I think that the results were
generally a confirmation of the trend we have been seeing in American politics since 2016
and even before that, in that you have got a lot of affluent, highly educated suburban
areas that are moving towards the Democrats. And we saw that really in Virginia, in that
a lot of the key districts that the Democrats flipped fit that sort of characteristic in
places like Northern Virginia, Greater Richmond, Hampton Roads. On the other hand, Republican strength is
still enduring or getting better in a lot of rural areas or small cities across the
country. Now, Kentucky is an exception to that trend,
in that Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, the Republican, really was very, very unpopular. He tried to nationalize that race, bring in
the president. But he still wasn’t able to get a lot of Trump
voters to vote for him. But I think that’s more of an aberration. Mississippi, I think, is maybe a better confirmation
that here we have a Republican state, you had a pretty strong Democratic challenger,
and yet the Republican still won relatively handily. JUDY WOODRUFF: Maybe the answer to this next
question is just a mirror image of what you just said, Kyle, but what — where did each
party not do well, and why? And are these things they can change? KYLE KONDIK: Let me give you an example from
another state that held elections on Tuesday night, and that was in Southern New Jersey. Jeff Van Drew, a U.S. House member, used to
be a member of the state Senate in New Jersey, Van Drew was one of only two Democrats in
the House not to back the impeachment inquiry last week. And we sort of got a sense as to the reason
why, in that Republicans actually picked up the two state Assembly seats that cover sort
of the general area where Van Drew is from and also the state Senate seat that Van Drew
used to hold. And that’s a — kind of a white working-class
area, Southern New Jersey. That’s the kind of place where Donald Trump
really performed quite well in 2016. And we see a similar — similar kind of results,
in that, even with Trump in the White House, those places may be sort of trending away
from Democrats. JUDY WOODRUFF: And you mentioned the suburbs
a minute ago. Philadelphia suburbs, Democrats did well. Is there something about the kind of suburbs
where Democrats are getting stronger and where they aren’t? KYLE KONDIK: I’ll tell you what. If you look at — if you just look at census
numbers, and you look at whether a place has higher-than-average four-your college attainment
— nationally, the number is about 30 percent, but if a county has 35, 40 percent four-your
college attainment, that’s a place that’s generally trending toward the Democrats. Now, various places are in various sort of
stages of transition. But if you look at that number, it really
tells the tale. And, likewise, if you look at a place that
is overly white, doesn’t have particularly high four-year college attainment, sort of
classified as that white working-class area — Southern New Jersey, I think, is a good
example of that — trending more toward the Republicans. And, look, there are there are lots of varieties
of election results, lots of differences in the outcomes. But those big picture trends, that nationalization
and this split in the white electorate amongst white voters — white voters who have a four-year
degree and those who do not, it’s becoming very prevalent. I mean, American elections, if you go back
40, 50 years, I think they used to be actually a little bit more interesting, in that you
had a lot more regional variation in how the places voted. But a lot of that is falling off, and it’s
being replaced by kind of national political feelings. JUDY WOODRUFF: And if you’re — whether you’re
a Democrat or Republican, and you’re looking closely at what happened yesterday, are you
taking — and you’re running for president — are you taking something away from what
happened? Or are you careful about what you see? KYLE KONDIK: I think you should be careful. And I also think that people who are partisan
should make sure they recognize where the other side is doing well, too. And Pennsylvania is an example, in that we
mentioned that, in some of these local level races, the Democrats did as well as maybe
they had ever done in some suburban Philadelphia places in terms of the county level government
and those places. But at the same time, there are a lot of ancestrally
Democratic places in Western Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh where Democrats used
to be strong, and Democrats — and Republicans did pretty well in a lot of those county level
races. And so there are shifts in these key states
in places like Pennsylvania, which — a state that very well could effectively decide the
presidential race. There are positives that both parties can
point to. JUDY WOODRUFF: What about turnout? I hadn’t thought about asking you this. But as I listened to you talk so much of what
happens in an election is who turns out, can we tell anything from an off-year election
like this that just doesn’t get the kind of national attention? KYLE KONDIK: The general trend has been the
turnout has been pretty good in the Trump era. The midterm turnout last year was about 50
percent, which is basically a modern record. And in Virginia, turnout was a lot higher
than you would expect for an off-off-year election, no governor’s race on the ballot. It’s just the state legislative stuff and
local races. So turnout was pretty good in Virginia. Turnout was really good in Kentucky. It was not so good in Mississippi, which actually
might be a little bit of a warning sign for Democrats, in that African-American turnout
wasn’t particularly great. That’s a state that is very polarized by race. Democrats really needed a dynamite African-American
turnout for Democrat Jim Hood to get over the finish line. That did not really materialize for him in
that state. But, broadly speaking, turnout has been pretty
high in these elections since Trump got elected. And I think it’s indicative of a very engaged
electorate. And we could be looking at a record presidential
turnout. Usually, you’re looking at more like 60 percent. But maybe it’s going to be more like 65 percent,
a lot of people coming out of the woodwork. The general assumption is that that’s good
for Democrats, because the Democratic base is less reliable. However, there are lots of potential Trump
voters out there that didn’t show up in 2016 that maybe would show up in 2020, particularly
in some of these key states. So don’t just assume for sure that high turnout
is good for Democrats everywhere. JUDY WOODRUFF: Kyle Kondik, the University
of Virginia, thank you very much. KYLE KONDIK: Thank you.

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