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Commentary by Alan I. Abramowitz

Most Recent Releases

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June 2, 2022

The Outlook for the 2022 Senate Elections: A State-by-State Analysis By Alan I. Abramowitz

What a predictive model tells us about the last decade of results, as well as 2022

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Senate elections have become firmly yoked to their state’s presidential leanings.

— Democrats now hold a tiny Senate majority in large part because of their superior performance in otherwise Republican-leaning states, a performance they may find difficult to sustain because of deepening partisan polarization.

— Based on the fundamentals of state partisanship, incumbency, and the national political environment, Republicans have a good chance to pick up at least a seat and take back control of the upper chamber. But poor candidates could hurt their chances, as they have in some other recent Senate races.

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March 24, 2022

Are Latinos Deserting the Democratic Party? Evidence from the Exit Polls By Alan I. Abramowitz

Democratic share of the Latino vote has been highly variable from election to election.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— One key question in American politics is the trajectory of Latino voters. Donald Trump performed better in 2020 with Latino voters than he did in 2016, particularly in places like South Texas and South Florida.

— However, an analysis of the longer-term trend in Latino presidential voting shows that this growing voting bloc is not necessarily trending one way or the other.

— Presidential incumbency appears to have a stronger influence on Latino voters than on other demographic groups.

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February 24, 2022

Redistricting and Competition in Congressional Elections Forces beyond gerrymandering explain rising number of districts that strongly favor one party by Alan I. Abramowitz

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

-- Based on presidential voting patterns, a much larger proportion of U.S. House districts strongly favor one party and a much smaller proportion are closely divided than 50 years ago.

-- However, gerrymandering is not the major reason for this trend. Partisan polarization has increased dramatically in U.S. states and counties, whose boundaries have not changed.

-- Moreover, despite the growing partisan divide evident in presidential voting, the competitiveness of House elections has changed very little over the past 5 decades because the personal advantage of incumbency has declined sharply during this period.

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February 3, 2022

Why Voter Suppression Probably Won’t Work By Alan I. Abramowitz

Voting procedures, turnout, and vote margins in the 2020 election.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— In the aftermath of the high-turnout 2020 election, many Republican-controlled state governments have passed legislation that Democrats believe will harm their party’s voter turnout.

— However, voting rules did not appear to have much impact on turnout and had no measurable impact on vote margins at the state level in the 2020 presidential election.

— Both voter turnout and voting decisions in 2020 were driven by the strong preferences held by the large majority of voters between the major party candidates.

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September 23, 2021

Can Democrats Win Back the White Working Class? By Alan I. Abramowitz

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— One of the defining features of American politics is the realignment of white, college-educated voters toward Democrats and that of white voters without a degree toward Republicans.

— There are competing views on how or whether Democrats can perform better among white non-college voters.

— Appealing to the economic interests of white non-college voters may not be enough for Democrats to win back their support.

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June 10, 2021

Forecasting the 2022 Midterm Election with the Generic Ballot By Alan I. Abramowitz

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— National House generic ballot polling can be a useful tool in projecting the overall results of House and Senate elections.

— The president’s party often loses ground in midterms, but the magnitude of those losses varies greatly depending on the national political environment and the seats held by each party prior to the election.

— A model using the generic ballot and seat exposure shows that a single digit lead on the generic ballot would give Democrats a good chance to keep control of the Senate. Given the expected impact of redistricting, however, Democrats probably need a larger lead to keep control of the House.

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February 25, 2021

Assessing the Impact of Absentee Voting on Turnout and Democratic Vote Margin in 2020 By Alan I. Abramowitz

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— While the 2020 presidential election saw a record volume of absentee votes cast, not all states made it equally accessible.

— Eased absentee voting rules contributed to higher voter participation rates.

— With higher turnout, President Joe Biden’s performance still tracked closely with Hillary Clinton’s state-by-state results in 2016 — he just performed slightly better across the board.

— All told, the sharp increase in absentee voting in 2020 wasn’t disproportionately beneficial to either presidential candidate.

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September 29, 2020

State Polls Give Biden Strong Lead in Electoral College as First Debate Looms By Alan I. Abramowitz

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— There is a strong relationship between the 2020 presidential polls in the states and the 2016 results.

— This relationship makes sense given that there is an incumbent on the ballot. In these kinds of elections, we see a very high degree of consistency in the results at the state level.

— There are enough competitive states for Donald Trump to come back and win, but Joe Biden is considerably closer to the magic number of 270 than Trump, based on the polls.

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June 16, 2020

Comparing National Polls in 2016 and 2020 By Alan I. Abramowitz

Biden’s lead has been similar to Clinton’s, but it has been more stable.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— In aggregate, Joe Biden’s national lead over Donald Trump so far this year is very similar to the lead Hillary Clinton held over Trump in the first half of 2016.

— However, Biden’s lead has been more stable.

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March 19, 2020

A Coronavirus Recession Could Doom Trump’s Reelection Chances By Alan I. Abramowitz

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— The coronavirus public health crisis likely will lead to an economic downturn of unknown length and severity.

— Historically, second-quarter GDP growth in the election year is an important variable in predicting how an incumbent president will perform in the fall.

— A recession could seriously damage President Donald Trump’s reelection chances.

— However, we are in truly uncharted territory, and it’s unclear how the public will respond electorally to an economic downturn forced by a pandemic.

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November 14, 2019

Medicare for All a Vote Loser in 2018 U.S. House Elections By Alan I. Abramowitz

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— “Medicare for All” has been a major issue in the Democratic primary race. But it also came up a lot in the 2018 cycle.

— A regression analysis comparing the performance of 2018 Democratic House candidates shows that those who supported Medicare for All performed worse than those who did not, even when controlling for other factors.

— Democratic presidential candidates would do well to take heed of these results, particularly as the eventual nominee determines what he or she wishes to emphasize in the general election.

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August 22, 2019

Which Party’s Voters are More Divided? By Alan I. Abramowitz

Hint: It’s Not the One You Think.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— More Republicans identify as conservative than Democrats identify as liberal.

— This has led to questions about whether ideological fissures in the Democratic Party could make it harder for the party to rally around its eventual nominee.

— However, Democrats actually are more united on individual issue positions than Republicans, which may mean the Democrats are less divided than ideological self-placement suggests.

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August 8, 2019

Did Russian Interference Affect the 2016 Election Results? By Alan I. Abramowitz

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent testimony was a reminder that Russia attempted to influence the outcome of the 2016 election and very well may try to do so again in 2020.

— This begs the question: Is there any evidence that Russian interference may have impacted the results, particularly in key states?

— The following analysis suggests that the 2016 results can be explained almost entirely based on the political and demographic characteristics of those states. So from that standpoint, the answer seems to be no.

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July 25, 2019

The 2020 Congressional Elections: A Very Early Forecast By Alan I. Abramowitz

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— A forecasting model based on postwar electoral history along with the president’s approval rating and the House generic ballot points to Democratic gains next fall.

— The model’s projection won’t be finalized until late next summer and will be based on whatever the president’s approval and the House generic ballot polling is at that time.

— The Republicans enjoy some advantages on both the House and Senate map that might allow them to overperform whatever the model’s final projection is.

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April 4, 2019

Assessing Trump’s Chances: Forecasting the 2020 Presidential Election By Alan I. Abramowitz

The author’s “time for change” presidential forecasting model has a successful track record of projecting presidential elections. In 2016, it showed Donald Trump as a favorite to win the national popular vote. Though Trump ultimately lost the popular vote while winning the Electoral College, the model presented an early indication that Trump was more than capable of winning the 2016 election.

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December 20, 2018

Moderation in the Pursuit of Reelection May Not Help: Evidence from the 2018 House Elections By Alan I. Abramowitz

In my book, The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation and the Rise of Donald Trump, I argue that the United States has entered a new era of electoral competition in the 21st century. The most important characteristics of 21st century elections are partisan polarization and nationalized elections, and the results of the 2018 House elections provide striking evidence of both. The outcomes of House contests in 2018 were overwhelmingly determined by two factors — the partisan composition of House districts and the unpopularity of President Trump in many of those districts, including some that had supported him in 2016.

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December 14, 2017

Partisan Gerrymandering and the Outlook for the 2018 U.S. House Elections By Alan I. Abramowitz

There is a growing sense among political observers that the United States may be heading toward a wave election in 2018. Results of recent special elections, including Doug Jones’ (D) victory in the Alabama Senate race on Tuesday, along with Democratic victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections and surprisingly large Democratic gains in the Virginia House of Delegates all point toward the likelihood of substantial Democratic gains in next year’s midterm elections, including a real possibility that Democrats could regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, results of recent generic ballot polling generally show large Democratic l

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August 3, 2017

Forecast Model Suggests Democratic Gains Likely in 2018 Gubernatorial Contests By Alan I. Abramowitz

In addition to the entire U.S. House of Representatives and about one-third of the U.S. Senate, Americans will be choosing 36 state governors in 2018. Control of statehouses is crucial not only because many important policy decisions are made at the state level, but because the governors elected next year will, in many cases, play key roles in redrawing congressional and state legislative district lines after the 2020 census.

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July 6, 2017

Generic Ballot Model Gives Democrats Early Advantage in Battle for Control of House By Alan I. Abramowitz

Results of recent special elections have fueled speculation about whether Democrats have a realistic chance to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. Although Republican candidates have won recent special elections for seats vacated by President Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointees in Georgia, Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina, the GOP victory margins in all four contests have been much smaller than those for the former Republican incumbents in 2016.

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August 25, 2016

Generic Ballot Forecasting Model: Democrats Could Take Back Senate but Republicans Likely to Hold House With Reduced Majority By Alan I. Abramowitz

Since the conclusion of the Republican and Democratic national conventions last month, pundits, political reporters, and ordinary Americans have, for understandable reasons, been preoccupied with developments in the presidential campaign. And the contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has certainly provided plenty of material for serious political observers as well as late night comics. With the presidential contest getting so much coverage in the national media, however, much less attention has been devoted to the critical battle for control of the next Congress. Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, whether Republicans or Democrats control the House and Senate will have enormous consequences for the direction of the country and the ability of the next president to carry out his or her agenda.