Women, Youth Responsible for Midwest States’ Blue Wave

FILE – In this Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 file photo, Democrat house candidate Sharice Davids speaks to supporters at a victory party in Olathe, Kan. Davids defeated Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder to win the Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District seat. Democratic House candidate Debra Haaland who won in New Mexico’s 1st congressional district and Davids will join U.S. Reps. Tom Cole, who is Chickasaw, and Markwayne Mullin, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, in the House. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley, File)

(CN) – The blue wave crashed into several Midwest states in a midterm election that saw Democrats gain the most amount of U.S. House seats in a midterm since the aftermath of Watergate in 1974.

Kansas voters elected Democrat Sharice Davids, one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress and the state’s first openly gay representative.

Voters in the largely Republican-held state also rejected gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, a conservative proponent of anti-illegal immigration laws and close ally to President Donald Trump.

In Wisconsin, Republican Scott Walker lost the governor’s race to his Democratic challenger Tony Evers in a state that voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

The Democrats not only flipped two seats in Michigan, where Trump also won in 2016, it also elected one of the first Muslim women to Congress.

While midterm elections historically energize the voters of the president’s opposing party, the youth vote, educated women and urban and suburban voters seem to have driven the blue wave in many Midwest states.

A record number of midterm voters under the age of 30 turned out to vote in 2018, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. The group estimates that 31 percent of young people voted, compared to just 21 percent in the 2014 midterms.

The youth vote is significant as it tends to skew towards Democratic voters, according to exit polling. In Wisconsin, 60 percent of young voters selected Evers compared to just 37 percent who voted for Walker.

Another driving force in 2018’s blue wave was women, specifically college-educated white women. Evers captured 60 percent of the vote of college-educated white women, compared to 56 percent of college-educated white men who voted for Walker.

Across the country, 59 percent of women voted for Democrats in House races and 40 percent voted Republican, the largest margin in history, according to CNN exit polls.

In Johnson County, Kansas’ wealthiest and heavily suburbanized county, voters overwhelmingly voted Democratic for the U.S. House and state races. Laura Kelly, the state senator who defeated Kobach for governor, won 54 percent of the vote in Johnson County. Kobach only garnered 37 percent.

Changing demographics in places like Johnson County, which is becoming more educated and suburban, could be a key factor in the Democrats’ win, according to Patrick Miller, assistant professor of political science at the University of Kansas.

“Suburbia nationally is getting better for Ds over the long term, and [Johnson County] included,” Miller tweeted. “We just didn’t really notice until 2016.”

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