Posted on November 14, 2022

Racial Breakdowns for Midterms Expose Shifting Electorate

Silvia Foster-Frau and Sabrina Rodriguez, Washington Post, November 11, 2022

Democrats celebrated a better-than-expected performance in the midterm elections this week, blunting Republican efforts to gain ground in Congress and across the country. But their relief masked a continued problem: The party still has work to do to shore up its diverse voter base.

The red wave pundits predicted did not materialize, but support for Democrats slipped across the board, including among voters of color integral to the party’s political future. While more than 8 in 10 Black voters supported Democrats for Congress, their level of support fell between four and seven percentage points during the midterms compared with 2018, according to network exit polling and the AP VoteCast poll, respectively. Among Latinos, support for Democrats declined between nine and 10 percentage points, with between 56 percent and 60 percent backing Democrats.

In the 2018 midterms, 77 percent of Asians voted for House Democratic candidates, according to network exit polls, compared with 58 percent this year — although data from AP VoteCast showed a smaller decline in Asian American support for Democrats from 2018 to 2022: 71 percent to 64 percent. Separately, AP VoteCast and Edison Research found a majority of voters who are American Indian or Alaska Native favored Republicans this year.

White voters accounted for more than 7 in 10 voters and remained the Republican Party’s greatest source of support, with nearly 6 in 10 voting for GOP candidates for Congress, according to exit polls and AP VoteCast.

Support for Democrats among young voters and women remained high, according to network exit polls, but still slipped. In 2018, voters under 30 supported Democrats by a 35-point margin, according to network exit polls, but that was down to 28 percentage points in 2022. Women supported Democrats over Republicans in 2018 by a 19-point margin; that was down to eight points this year.

The findings come from two large surveys of voters conducted on Election Day and in the days leading up to it, with overall results weighted to match vote tallies. The data provide an early look at how different groups voted across the country, though results are survey estimates rather than firm vote tallies.

Leaders from Latino, Asian American and Black voter outreach groups said the midterm results, while better than they expected, still show Democrats spent too much time attempting to court and flip White voters rather than investing in communities of color, who already display more affinity for the Democratic Party and have historically been shut out of the political process.

“Black and brown voters, particularly Black and brown women, continue to be the base of the party, but the Democrats cannot take their support for granted. They need to take action,” said Aimee Allison, president of She the People, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for women of color in politics. {snip}

Republicans, meanwhile, found mixed midterm success with their efforts to expand their largely White coalition. They fielded the most diverse slate of candidates in the party’s history and poured millions of dollars into demographically diverse parts of the country.

In Orange County, Angilla Wang voted straight-ticket Republican for the first time. She considers herself a moderate and an advocate for abortion rights and efforts to lessen the impacts of climate change. She voted for Obama twice.

But Wang says she has been disappointed by Democrats’ approach to rising crime rates and efforts to strengthen gun laws. They are not doing enough to crack down on crime, particularly at a time when Asian Americans have been the targets of violence, Wang said.

“For the past two and a half years I’ve seen an exponential increase in Asian hate crimes … but we have such soft laws in California. It did not protect, not just Asians, it did not protect our community,” she said. “I feel like the Republican Party is going to do what they can to make it safer in regards to crime.”


Latino voters, who have a historically low turnout rate despite a growing population, played a significant role in competitive races across the country. The results were also a display of the diversity of that community.

In Miami-Dade County, a longtime Democratic stronghold, where Hispanics make up almost 60 percent of the electorate, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis flipped the county for the first time in 20 years. It’s a stunning turnaround in a county that Hillary Clinton won by almost 30 percentage points just six years ago. DeSantis himself lost the county by more than 20 percentage points four years ago and won by 11 points this year.

Across Florida, DeSantis won 58 percent of the Latino vote, according to exit polling, up from 44 percent in 2018.

DeSantis’s victory with Florida Hispanics came after the party focused on deepening support from conservative-leaning Cuban Americans, who make up almost a third of the state’s Hispanic electorate — and making further gains with the state’s growing Colombian, Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and other Hispanic groups. A majority of Puerto Ricans, the state’s second-largest Hispanic group, who historically lean Democratic, voted for DeSantis, according to network exit polls.

The circumstances in Florida, however, are unique. Across the country, Mexican Americans — who make up 60 percent of the U.S. Latino population — favor Democrats.


Exit poll data found that Latino support for Republicans in House votes nationally reached 39 percent, the most since 1978 and up 10 percentage points from 2018. {snip}


Black voters have long supported Democratic candidates at higher shares than other racial and ethnic groups of voters. But while that was still true in 2022, exit polls found the House vote margins for Democrats among Black voters were slightly narrower this year.

Around 8 in 10 Black men supported Democrats, according to exit polls and AP VoteCast; that was down from nearly 9 in 10 in 2018. Nearly 9 in 10 Black women supported Democrats, according to exit polls and AP VoteCast; 92 percent did so in 2018.

Black voters and candidates had an uphill battle this year in several states whose Republican-led legislatures redrew districts to split up the Black vote or otherwise dilute its power, said Cliff Albright, co-founder of voting rights group Black Voters Matter.

Any small slippage in the community’s vote for Democrats is overshadowed by the White vote, which continues to vote Republican, he said. White voters were even more supportive of Republicans this year than in 2018.