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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The dramatic, across-the-board victory engineered by Republicans in Tuesday’s elections would seem to bode well for the party’s chance to capture the White House in 2016. The GOP took full control of Congress, flipped at least four governor’s offices from blue to red, and prompted much talk of a resurgent Republican movement.

Not so fast. A more careful look at the returns significantly complicates the narrative that an American electorate, which recently tilted Democratic, has since shifted back to the Republican fold.

In fact, the 2014 election results appear to say more about who did not vote than who did: Younger voters and minority communities stayed home in large numbers, as is typical during a midterm election. If trends from the last two presidential elections hold, those same groups are likely to be far more energized during the next White House campaign, making Tuesday’s results of limited value in predicting 2016.

If anything, data from the midterms reveal that Republicans could face a steeper climb than usual in two years. Exit polls showed that Republicans actually got a smaller percentage of the female vote than they did in the 2010 midterms, even as many of their highest profile candidates tried to moderate their image on issues like abortion and contraception.

If that trend continues, the GOP could find itself more reliant than ever on white males, the one slice of the American electorate on which the GOP has a lock. But that won’t be enough to win national elections with the country growing markedly less white. According to data compiled by the Pew Research Center, the United States is on track to become a majority-minority population in the next three decades, and people of color consistently vote more Democratic than Republican.

Republicans can try to counteract Democrats’ built-in demographic advantage by influencing turnout. This, Democrats argue, is the real point of the restrictive voter identification laws that Republicans have turned to as a fix for supposed voter fraud. It is about depressing minority participation at the polls. That seems less like a sustainable long-term strategy and more like an act of desperation.

Of course, Democrats have their own problems with midterm elections — namely, turnout. In 2010, the share of the electorate comprised of non-white voters dropped by 3 percentage points from the 2008 election, and the share of 18-29 year olds dropped by 6 percentage points. In that midterm election, those groups still voted Democratic, but by smaller margins.

As it happens, the 2010 midterm elections look strikingly similar to the 2014 results.

Exit polls from House of Representatives races in 2010 showed a national electorate made up of 35 percent self-identified Democrats, 35 percent Republicans and 29 percent independents. Exit polls from Tuesday’s election showed a nearly identical breakdown. Those same polls showed the parties maintaining roughly the same level of loyalty among their own voters as in 2012. The only major difference is that Democrats in 2014 actually improved their performance by 5 percentage points among independent voters.

But again, the midterm losses from 2010 didn’t mean disaster for the party in the presidential election. Instead, 2012 brought back young and minority voters in large numbers, giving Obama his second term. The same will likely prove true, unless the GOP goes through a very rapid transformation.

To be sure, if Republicans are looking for a positive political message to take away from this midterm (beyond gaining more lawmaking power), it is that the GOP can probably look ahead happily to 2018. Midterms are their meat: They play to their strengths and lessen the impact of their demographic weaknesses. But they shouldn’t get overly excited about 2016 — at least not until they come up with new a strategy and policy platform.

David Sirota is a senior writer at the International Business Times and the best-selling author of the books Hostile Takeover, The Uprising and Back to Our Future. Email him [email protected], follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at

AFP Photo/Oliver Lang

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18 Responses to Tuesday Probably Meant Nothing For 2016

  1. Yeah! It’s hard to give much credence to voting results when only about 36% of voters turn out – more than 40% turned out in 2010. So even less nonRepublicans hit the polls last Tuesday; no wonder the GOP won big; Clueless Democrats and Independents once again didn’t bother to vote.

    Where Democrats did get out and vote though, like in Oregon where people vote via the mails – the Democrats won big. See this from the Daily Kos:

    Oregon voter turnout was 69.5 percent, and Democrats won BIG

    More Democrat-led states need to copy the Oregon model of voting to increase voter participation in our elections.

    • Yep.

      The people who voted against Obama in 2012 voted against his allies in 2014 even those who denied it. Add this to Gerrymandered districts, mounds of dark money and horrible messaging and viola 2014. Surprised – you shouldn’t be.

  2. The 2016 campaign started a nano second after the midterm election results were known. Everything we hear from both parties from this point on will be focused on the 2016 elections. Both parties will micro analyze the results of the midterm election, will develop their respective strategies, and will focus on ways to motivate their constituents and convince them to vote for them.
    I expect Hillary Clinton to be our nominee, and I am convinced that she is the indisputable front runner. The only question is who her running mate will be. The big question mark is who will win the GOP nomination. I believe that politicians such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and a few others are just distractions, without the slightest chance to be nominated. I think Nikki Haley is a chew in for the VP slot, especially if Hillary runs. Who they nominate for the top of their ticket is very much in question and it depends on who prevails: the GOP establishment or the Tea Party. Another factor, especially if the GOP succeeds and pushes the candidacy of Jeb Bush is whether or not he will accept.

    • I agree completely, and would add that although those far-right distraction candidates you mentioned have virtually no chance of being nominated, the Bush name isn’t going to win much of the independent/swing vote – and we just saw how much those votes matter. Bush’s are far too powerful as it is with their financial/industrial status and the political influence that comes from two family members having achieved the highest elected office. Hillary is the front runner, and Bush would lose to her by a much larger margin than I think is commonly anticipated. No more Bush’s in the Whitehouse!

  3. I think Rarry Sabato in Virginia has raised something very, very important that there must be an investigation how it happened polls and results don’t march at all. I do not think investigation should be done only in Virginia, it should be all over the country. I do not believe at all that all pollsters, I mean all of them were quite wrong. I doubt the RESULTS not the pollsters. Remember in 2012 there were something to happen in Ohio, BUT clever boys did their things and prevented all such mischiefs to happen. (Remember that moment when that woman at Fox News – Megyn Kelly was also astonished too). If no action is taken now, this will happen again come 2016.

  4. Tuesday meant nothing? Nonsense. It means that even with a Democrat elected President, he or she will have a Republican majority to deal with right out of the box. Is that nothing? The fact is that the Democratic agenda under the second term of the Obama administration has pushed the swing voters away, and those swing voters are necessary – party-liners would vote for Dracula as long as he had a “D” or “R” after his name. Unless Democratic policies can be revised to win those swing votes back, those people may just vote for the “R” Presidential candidate.

  5. Only the Memo can take the rout and spin it as good new for Hilary. Her stump speeches were a disaster and showed why she isn’t competent to run for the presidency

    • As I have said before the right can’t win on a national scale. Add the fact that they will have a record to run away from by 2016, unlike 2014 when they used the Harry ate our bills so we couldn’t do anything line.

      • Dem’s won in 2008 and 12 for 1 reason 4 Million illegal alien votes. With voter ID the Republicans have put a nail into that coffin

      • Dem’s won in 2008 and 12 for 1 reason 82 Million illegal alien votes. With voter ID the Republicans have put a
        nail into that coffin

        • So disenfranchising 3.5% of the voters won the republicans the election, so much for the 15th amendment. The constitution only applies when Obama bashing.

        • What,Between 2000 and 2010 there were 649 million votes cast in General elections in the United States of America,47,000 UFO sightings,441 Americans killed by lightning and THIRTEEN CREDIBLE CASES OF IN-PERSON VOTER IMPERSONATION!!Thank You.I now rest my case.Have a medicore day!!

  6. If I didn’t think the results would be pure hell (Great Depression 2) for too many Americans I’d seriously consider voting for and rooting for a GOP candidate in 2016. Their economic concepts are so inept and wrong that surely by 2020 we’ll be seeing 21st Century New Deal and a completely marginalized GOP.

    To give you an example of how wrong of Conservative Economics theories are (as pointed out by J.M. Keynes), if Conservative employment theories (the same ones that lead to opposing the minimum wage) were right there would have been NO unemployment in the 1930-32 period because huge numbers of the 25% who were unemployed would have been willing to work for any wage even three hots and a cot.

    • Checkout Business Weeks Cover Story “Why John Maynard Keynes is the Economist the World Needs Now” (Can’t get the link to paste – this website is really glitchy!)

  7. The Democrats need to make getting out the vote in midterms a top priority. Right now they need to start making sure people get the id’s they will nee instead of waiting. I would also like to see lawsuits against states that do not make sure people can get documents they need stat no cost and that they do not have to travel far to get id’s.

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