BY RICK MORAN
A Pew Research analysis of verified voters and nonvoters in the elections in 2022, 2020, 2018, and 2016 has found that differences in partisan turnout — rather than vote switching between parties — are the major reason for GOP gains in 2022.
“Overall, 68% of those who voted in the 2020 presidential election turned out to vote in the 2022 midterms. Former President Donald Trump’s voters turned out at a higher rate in 2022 (71%) than did President Joe Biden’s voters (67%),” the analysis concluded.
Partisan loyalty played a huge part in the 2022 midterms. Among those who voted for president in 2020 and for a congressman in 2022, just six percent crossed party lines or voted for a third party.
Similarly, the vast majority of those who voted in both 2018 and 2022 had consistent party preferences across the two elections: 95% of those who voted for a Republican candidate in 2018, and 92% of those who voted for a Democrat, voted for a House candidate of the same party four years later.
Democratic 2018 voters were slightly more likely than Republican 2018 voters to defect in 2022, with the net consequences of the party balance flipping 1 or 2 percentage points to the GOP.
That is a potentially impactful shift in an environment of very close elections, but the greater driver of the GOP’s performance in 2022 was differential turnout: higher turnout among those supporting Republican candidates than those supporting Democratic candidates.
While the changes are small, the significance is huge. In a 50-50 nation, political commitment to a party becomes far more important than changing hearts and minds. In fact, with the political polarization present in American politics today, elections will hinge more than ever on how many of your own supporters can be driven to the polls.
Shifts in turnout, as opposed to defections, were responsible for most of the changes in vote margins from the 2018 midterms within most subgroups in the population. For example, the Democratic advantage among women dropped from 18 points in 2018 (58% Democratic, 40% Republican) to just 3 points in 2022 (51% and 48%, respectively).
But when looking only at women who voted in both elections, there is no net advantage for either party from defections: 6% of those who voted Democratic in 2018 flipped to vote for a Republican candidate in 2022, and a nearly identical share of women who voted Republican in 2018 voted for a Democratic candidate in 2022 (5%).
The abortion issue had a negligible impact in 2022. Women who switched from Republican to Democratic were matched by Democrats who switched to Republicans. Democrats who think they can ride abortion to victory in 2024 are fooling themselves.