The 2018 Midterms: A Blueprint for Democrats in 2020
The conventional wisdom pre-election held that the Democratic energy was on the far-left. But the actual voters chose moderates and delivered wins where Democrats need them. Indeed, the House and Governors races of 2018 offer the blueprint for beating Donald Trump: avoid going too far left and go with mainstream Democratic candidates and ideas.
The House: The new majority was delivered almost entirely by moderates.
- Primary Voters Chose Moderates: The moderate House New Democrats won 86% of primary races in red-to-blue districts. The far-left Our Revolution won just 37% of their contests.
- Moderates Flipped Seats: 33 moderate New Democrat-endorsed candidates flipped red House seats to blue. That’s more than 79% of the total Democratic flips. Not a single Our Revolution-endorsed candidate captured a red seat. Zero.
- Moderates Won in 2020 Battlegrounds: In the critical presidential battleground states, those moderate New Democratic candidates elected seven new House members, including two flips in MI, two in PA, one in AZ, one in IA, and a hold in NH.
Governors: Midwest and battleground states chose moderate Democrats.
- Moderates Delivered Statehouses: Moderate Democrats won 6 of 10 general elections for governor in the Midwest and other presidential battleground states.
- Moderates Rebuilt the Blue Wall: Moderate Democratic governors won the Blue Wall states of MI, PA, and WI by a combined 1.3 million votes (55-44%) compared to a 100,000 vote loss by Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Ideas: Winning candidates ignored the far-left litmus test issues like Medicare-for-All.
- Democratic Ads: Democrats in competitive House races ran away from Medicare-for-all. Of the 967 TV ads they aired between Labor Day and Election Day, only 2 mentioned support for single-payer health care or Medicare-for-All. Both of those candidates lost winnable seats.
- Republican Ads: Republicans in competitive races ran towards Medicare-for-All, running ads in at least two dozen competitive races trying to tag Democratic candidates for allegedly supporting Medicare-for-All.
- Far-Left Agenda: No Democrat in a competitive House district ran even one TV ad on the other cornerstone far-left ideas: free 4-year college, a federal jobs guarantee, or a $15 minimum wage.
Democrats had a spectacular midterm election. It was not an accident, and it wasn’t just hatred of Trump. The candidates represented diversity of race, gender, and sexual orientation, as well as the diversity of Democratic ideological views. And crucially, in places where Democrats absolutely needed to flip seats to regain the majority, they nominated and elected passionate moderates with fresh, pragmatic ideas. That is how to beat Trump in 2020.