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Trump Coattails?

When examining 21st century electoral behavior, in an overwhelming number of states, we find that voters are choosing the US Senate contender of the party whose presidential candidate carries their particular electorate, and the 2020 vote is mostly no exception to such a premise.

This pattern allows the various presidential nominees to develop political coattails and potentially bring in additional members of his party to both the Senate and House.

In November, the only state where voters swayed from that pattern was Maine, where Pine Tree State voters broke 52-43% in favor of Democrat Joe Biden at the top of the ticket but returned to the Republican column to re-elect Sen. Susan Collins* by a 50-42% margin. And, as we will see when examining the data below, in the 2020 presidential race the coattail margin was not as determinative as it has been in other such campaigns during the past 20 years.

Though not legal victories in the sense that the first-place finisher did not obtain the office sought, the two Georgia Senate elections did yield Republican “wins,” if you will, since the GOP candidates finished ahead of their Democratic counterparts in a state that President Donald Trump failed to carry.

Remember that all of the Georgia races finished with razor-thin margins, so the pattern is not particularly definable. While President Trump was losing to Mr. Biden by just 12,670 votes of 4.998+ million ballots cast, Sen. David Perdue* (R) outpaced Democrat Jon Ossoff with an 88,098 vote spread, and the aggregate special election Senate Republican vote total was 47,808 higher than the combined Democratic sum.

The patterns of how the Senate Republican candidates fared with President Trump leading the ticket are interesting in that they don’t yield a consistent flow. In the 35 Senate races from 34 states where such elections were conducted, President Trump carried 19 of the states hosting Senate races as compared to 15 for Mr. Biden. Simultaneously, Republican candidates placed first in 22 of the 35 Senate races.

In ten of the states hosting a Senate race where President Donald Trump won, the Republican Senate candidate, though winning in all ten of those instances, ran behind the top of the ticket by an average of 2.2%. Conversely, however, in nine other states that President Trump won, he fell behind the GOP Senate candidate by an average of 2.8%.

Turning to the 16 states hosting Senate elections that Joe Biden carried (counting Georgia twice because of their two Senate campaigns), President Trump ran ahead of the losing Republican Senate candidate in nine states by an average percentage factor of 1.9, while he ran behind the losing Republican in four, and then behind the winning, or first place, Republican in three more. In these latter situations, the deficit margin was 1.8%.

Therefore, with a split decision throughout the potential Senate coattail states, it appears wholly dependent upon the particular Senate campaign whether the President was a slight boost or minor burden to the down ballot candidate.

Below is a chart showing the Senate states and President Trump’s performance in each compared with the Republican Senate contender. In summary, despite strong opinions being waged on both sides of the pre-election argument – those being that Trump was a help or hinderance to the Senate Republican candidates – it appears that the controversial Republican President was not a severe factor in most of the Senate campaign results.

In the Senate Winner column, the percentage figure depicts either how far ahead of Trump (+) the Republican Senate candidate ran, or how far behind (-).

STATE

TRUMP %

WINNER

R SENATE %

WINNER

AL

62.0%

Trump

60.1%

Tuberville -1.9%

AK

52.8%

Trump

53.9%

Sullivan +1.1%

AZ

49.1%

Biden

48.8%

Kelly (R -0.3%)

AR

62.4%

Trump

66.5%

Cotton +4.1%

CO

41.9%

Biden

44.2%

Hickenlooper (R +2.3%)

DE

39.8%

Biden

37.9%

Coons (R -1.9%)

GA-A

49.3%

Biden

49.7%

Perdue +0.4%

GA-B

49.3%

Biden

49.3%

Aggregate R +0.1%

ID

63.8%

Trump

62.6%

Risch -1.2%

IL

40.5%

Biden

38.8%

Durbin (R -1.7%)

IA

52.8%

Trump

50.8%

Ernst -2.0%

KS

56.2%

Trump

53.2%

Marshall -3.0%

KY

62.1%

Trump

57.8%

McConnell -4.3%

LA

58.5%

Trump

59.3%

Cassidy +0.8%

ME

43.5%

Biden

50.4%

Collins +6.9%

MA

31.9%

Biden

32.2%

Markey (R +0.3%)

MI

47.8%

Biden

48.2%

Peters (R +0.3%)

MN

45.3%

Biden

43.5%

Smith (R -1.8%)

MS

57.6%

Trump

54.1%

Hyde-Smith -3.5%

MT

56.9%

Trump

55.0%

Daines -1.9%

NE

58.5%

Trump

67.4%

Sasse +8.9%

NH

45.4%

Biden

41.0%

Shaheen (R -4.4%)

NJ

41.4%

Biden

40.9%

Booker (R -0.5%)

NM

43.5%

Biden

45.6%

Lujan (R +2.1%)

NC

49.9%

Trump

48.7%

Tillis -1.2%

OK

65.4%

Trump

62.9%

Inhofe -2.5%

OR

40.4%

Biden

39.3%

Merkley (R -1.1%)

RI

38.6%

Biden

33.3%

Reed (R -5.3%)

SC

55.1%

Trump

54.4%

Graham -0.7%

SD

61.8%

Trump

65.7%

Rounds +3.9%

TN

60.7%

Trump

62.2%

Hagerty +1.5%

TX

52.1%

Trump

53.5%

Cornyn +1.4%

VA

44.0%

Biden

43.9%

Warner (R -0.1%)

WV

68.6%

Trump

70.3%

Capito +1.7%

WY

69.5%

Trump

71.1%

Lummis +1.6%

   

19R-15D

 

22R-13D


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