by Greg Sargent July 30 at 10:07 AM Email the author THE MORNING PLUM: Over the weekend, President Trump escalated his rage-tweets about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, threatened a government shutdown to get his great wall on the southern border, and blasted the news media for selling out the country, while basically shrugging at the idea that egging on his supporters’ hatred of the press might be placing independent journalists in greater danger. It’s a reminder that Trump’s authoritarianism and bigotry will be front and center in this fall’s midterm elections. An important new analysis of the House map by Nate Cohn of the New York Times may help explain Trump’s escalations on all those fronts — or if not, it certainly provides crucial context for understanding how those escalations might shape the battle for control of the lower chamber. Cohn’s central finding is that the House map is turning out to be a lot broader than we expected. The districts that are in play aren’t merely suburban ones in which Hillary Clinton did well in 2016; they also include many working-class and rural districts that voted for Trump. Cohn analyzed the 60 GOP-held House seats that are rated competitively (Lean Republican, Toss Up, and Lean/Likely Democratic) by the Cook Political Report. Here are the key conclusions about the aggregate electorate in those districts: The electorate in those 60 districts is 78 percent white, whereas the United States is 70 percent white overall. The electorate in those 60 districts is 65 percent suburban, whereas the United States overall is 55 percent suburban. The electorate in those 60 districts boasts about 31 percent college graduates, whereas the United States overall is 28 percent college graduates. Forty-nine percent of the electorate in those 60 districts voted for Trump in 2016, while 46 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. (Nationally, of course, Clinton actually won the popular vote by over two points.) In short, the House battleground is only a bit more suburban and educated than the United States overall, and crucially, it’s whiter and more pro-Trump. The data is complicated by the need to use different voter pools to break out different demographic categories, but that’s the overall picture. The bottom line: The fact that this electorate shows Democrats with so many pickup opportunities suggests, as Cohn says, both that Democrats have recruited strong candidates in tough areas and that the national political environment may be “more favorable to Democrats than the generic ballot polls imply.?
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