Although Democrats held off a widely expected red wave in the 2022 midterm elections, Republican turnout was actually stronger, and the party energized key demographic groups including women, Latinos and rural voters, according to pollsters. a report published on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.
The report serves as a warning sign for Democrats ahead of the 2024 presidential election, with early polls indicating a possible rematch between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump.
Although Democrats retained control of the Senate, all but one of their governor’s mansions and only narrowly lost the House, the Pew data show that a greater percentage of voters who supported Mr. Trump in 2020 voted in November than those who supported Mr. Biden. did People who voted in past elections but resigned in 2022 were overwhelmingly Democrats.
And for all the Democratic emphasis on finding Republican voters who could be persuaded to turn against their party in the Trump era, Pew found that a vast majority of voters stayed with the same party during the 2018, 2020 and 2022 elections. Only 6 percent of voters voted for more than one party over those three elections — and those voters were more likely to be Democrats turning to Republican candidates than Republicans to Democratic candidates.
“An eternal debate among political analysts after each election is what was a bigger factor in the outcome — persuading voters to switch their allegiance, or getting more of their core party loyalists to vote,” said Hannah Hartig, one of the authors of the Pew. a report
Voters who voted in 2018 but skipped the 2022 midterms favored Democrats by two to one in the 2018 election.
Democrats tried last year to galvanize these voters, seeking to inflate Mr. Trump’s profile and tie other Republicans to him. Mr. Biden coined the phrase “ultra-MAGA” to describe Republicans trying to engage Democratic voters.
In the end, what most likely drove Democrats to the polls was less about Mr. Biden’s actions than a broader reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Dan Sena, former executive director of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, said the Pew results suggested the key to 2024 would be persuading independent and moderate Republican voters who dislike both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump to support Democrats. Abortion rights, he said, is the issue most likely to do so.
“There is a group of convinced Republicans that the Democrats could win,” Mr. Sena said. “Those voters align very closely with those who see choice and personal freedom in health care as compatible.”
Pew’s analysis is based on a panel of more than 7,000 Americans whose attitudes and voting behavior the group tracked across multiple election cycles. Pew also compared voters to state electoral rolls to verify that they actually cast ballots in 2022. Together, this provides a portrait of the 2022 electorate.
In most midterm years, the party that is not in the White House does well. And while Republicans enjoyed a turnout advantage in 2022, they still fell short of expectations and did not match Democrats’ turnout advantage in 2018, the first midterm election since Mr. Trump took office.
However, midterm voters historically lean older and whiter than voters in presidential years, a phenomenon that tends to benefit Republicans. The 2018 midterms were, in many ways, the exception to that rule, with increased participation across age groups, but especially among young people. The 2022 electorate was more in line with historical trends.
Much of the narrative surrounding the 2022 election has focused on Democratic energy following the Supreme Court’s abortion decision. And while this has happened in key gubernatorial races in states where abortion has been on the ballot, nationally, Democrats appear to have lost ground with a crucial group: women.
In the 2018 election cycle, when increased activism — including the Women’s March — fueled record turnout among women, Democrats held an 18 percentage point advantage. That margin has shrunk to just three points in 2022, Pew found.
However, the study found that few women actually changed the party they supported. Instead, most of the fall for Democrats stemmed from the fact that Republican women voted at a higher rate than Democratic women.
Hispanic voters continued to support Democrats overall, but by a much smaller margin than four years earlier. In 2018, Democrats won 72 percent of Hispanic voters, but in 2022 they won only 60 percent. The decline began in 2020, when Democrats also won about 60 percent of Hispanic voters.
And Republicans also continued to increase their support from rural voters. The party has made gains with them not only through increased turnout, but also among rural voters who have voted for Democrats in the past but are voting Republican in 2022.
“The Trump base is still motivated,” said Corry Bliss, a Republican strategist who ran the party’s House super PAC in 2018.
However, Mr. Bliss added, “In a handful of races that really matter, we’ve had bad candidates, and in all the races that matter, we’ve been outspent.”