Here's What 2018 Exit Polls Tell Us About Republican Voters

There is a growing gender gap. There are also increasing age, race, income, and education gaps.

The exit polls are in for this week’s midterm elections. If you’re a politics junkie, it can be fascinating to compare the breakdown of this year’s voters with previous years. Even if you aren’t a fan of statistics, it can be useful to look at who voted for who to help determine why the election turned out the way it did.

In this case, we can look back at previous exit polls to compare how well Republicans and Democrats did with various demographic groups. Since midterm elections have a different electorate from presidential elections, I looked at CNN’s exit polls from 2014 as well as 2016 to compare them with the new results from the 2018 midterms.

The most basic breakdown is between genders. In 2018, Republicans won 51 percent of male voters but lost female voters by a 19-point margin (40-59 percent). This was six points worse than the 2016’s 13-point gender gap and 15 points worse than 2014.

Democrats typically win younger voters and 2018 was no exception. The difference this year was that the Republican-leaning age groups were even older than normal. In 2014 and 2016, Republicans won majorities of age groups above 40-years-old while Democrats won all age groups younger than 40. In 2018, Democrats won all age groups younger than 50.

Margins were worse for Republicans in all age groups as well. Even though the GOP won all age groups older than 50 in 2018, the margin was only 1-2 points, a virtual tie.

When it comes to race, there was more bad news for Republicans. The GOP won just over half of white voters, 54 percent, and lost all other racial demographics by convincing margins. The share of white voters won by Republicans has declined from 60 percent in 2014 and 57 percent in 2016.

In the exit polls, minority voters are broken into three categories, black, Latino, and Asian. Again, the Republican share of these demographic groups has declined as well. The percentage of each group that voted Republican is listed below by year:

2014:

Black – 10 percent

Latino – 36 percent

Asian – 50 percent

2016:

Black – 8 percent

Latino – 28 percent

Asian – 27 percent

2018:

Black – 9 percent

Latino – 29 percent

Asian – 23 percent

Between 2014 and 2018, Republican support among blacks remained relatively constant at just less than 10 percent. Support among Latinos declined initially and then stabilized at slightly less than 30 percent. Support among Asians has been more than halved over four years.

In 2004, when President George W. Bush ran on immigration reform, the numbers for Latinos and Asians were considerably better than they are today. Although President Bush only garnered 11 percent of the black vote, he won 44 percent of the Latino vote and 44 percent of the Asian vote.

Interestingly, while the percentage of black and Asian voters in the electorate has remained relatively constant, the share of Latino voters has increased. From eight percent in both 2004 and 2014, Latinos increased to 11 percent in 2016 and 2018. Over the same time period, white voters decreased from 77 percent of the electorate to 71 percent.

Voting patterns have also changed with respect to education. In 2014, Democrats won voters without high school diplomas and voters with postgraduate degrees. Republicans won high school graduates and four-year college graduates. By 2016, most college graduates were voting Democrat. In the 2018 elections, voters who had not graduated high school and voters with associate degrees were the only categories won by Republicans.

By ideology, conservatives usually vote Republican and liberals usually vote Democrat. The share of conservative, liberal, and moderate voters has remained relatively constant over the past four years, but moderate voters have voted Democrat at an increasing rate. In 2014, moderates went Democrat by eight points. By 2016, the margin was 12 points and, this year, moderates selected Democrats by a whopping 26 points.

Low-income voters typically vote Democrat, but Republicans won voters who earned above $50,000 annually by double-digit margins in 2014. In 2016, Republicans eked out a victory in the $50-100,000 range by only three points. Voters who earned more split almost equally between the two parties. This year, Democrats won the $50-100,000 category while Republicans won voters who earned more than $100,000.

Republicans enlarged their Senate majority in 2018, but the party has lost support in every demographic group. Even white males, the GOP’s core demographic, has declined from 64 percent support in 2014 to 60 percent in 2018.

Much has been made of the Republican gender gap with 2018 being called the “year of the angry female college graduate.” This prediction turned out to be true with Republicans losing women by almost 20 points. Unfortunately, the Republican problem is not limited to women. The GOP also has an age gap, a race gap, an education gap, and an income gap. So far, all of these gaps are getting worse under President Trump.

[ Governor Sarah Palin exits a voting booth in Wasilla Town Hall on Election Day 2008. SarahPAC/Flickr]

Comments
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thekux
thekux

Women vote for welfare and security. The so-called college graduate from the female perspective want the government to pay for all their expenses. They're also trying to drive men out of colleges with claiming there's rape culture and Title Nine. Republicans win married women but the single mom is vote Democratic. They're voting Democrats because they want all the free s*** they want resources out of men and that includes the men that are married taking care of a family.

technophobe
technophobe

It's easy to see why we're turning off women, people of color, and college graduates.

The Republicans (and Trump) are presiding over a great economic picture. That wasn't the message, though. The message was that immigrant hordes are at the border and the President continues to demean women and people of color. Many of these demographics would vote for R candidates in greater numbers if the strategy wasn't to simply keep chucking red meat at the base.

Grey0135
Grey0135

These nationwide statistics have little relevance in a federal system of government. The reality is that Republican performance with all these groups varied widely from state to state. For instance, Republicans did terribly in CA with Latinos, as they always do, and that skews the numbers because there are so many Latinos in CA. But elsewhere, Republicans did well: Greg Abbott got 45 percent, Cruz got 35 percent, Nelson and DeSantis each got 45 percent, etc.

Same story with the gender gap, with Republicans doing particularly badly in states that are completely out of play for them.

FloridaMan
FloridaMan

The biggest mystery in history is why the Republican Party's full throated endorsement and support of Donald Trump is causing them to loose support among suburban women. It's a mysterious mystery of the mysterious variety. Perplexing even more is how nooooobody saw it coming.

Veritasenvitas
Veritasenvitas

Whether justified or not the GOP has a problem! Between the President and his tacit endorsement of "good people on both sides" and people like Peter King and the rhetoric about "invaders at the borders". The Republican party has managed to alienate most people of color. There truly is a problem when your party is monolithically white and white supremacist rhetoric is winked at and tacitly endorsed because you realize that your base is made up of a lot of white people in the south and elsewhere. That Republican base views the "other" as a threat to America and American values. Obviously there is a cross section of rural American that truly is frightened of the changing demographic. When your president can't stop talking about the brown peril at the border, rather than talking about the great economy then you have a real problem with retaining people of other colors and nationalities in your party!