Home 2021 Elections Progressive “Data Utility” Catalist Releases “What Happened in Virginia” 2021 Report, Finds...

Progressive “Data Utility” Catalist Releases “What Happened in Virginia” 2021 Report, Finds “much about the election result can be explained by national trends”

Catalist also finds that Dem turnout relative to the presidential election was about the same as in 2017, but GOP turnout was "at 75-80% of 2020 levels"


A good analysis by Catalist (“the data utility powering the progressive community”) is out this morning, regarding “What Happened in Virginia” in the 2021 election. The major takeaways from the analysis are as follows (comments by me are in parentheses/green, following each takeaway):

  • Election night was largely disappointing for Democrats. Despite historic developments since 2016, including record-shattering turnout in 2020, an ongoing pandemic, and a violent right wing attack on the U.S. Capitol, the 2021 elections were largely consistent with previous years in which voters are more likely to cast ballots against the president’s party.” (What’s most maddening to me is that, just 11 months after a violent, pro-Trump insurrection just a few miles from Virginia – and in which Governor Northam sent Virginia National Guard troops – a slight majority of Virginia voters were like, whatever, we’ll give the Party of Trump, and the candidate who said “President Trump represents so much of why I’m running”!!! – another chance. Crazy.)
  • “…much about the election result can be explained by national trends, especially when we compare Virginia’s results to New Jersey’s, which also held a less competitive statewide election…when we see a 6-7 point swing across multiple races with varying levels of competitiveness, coverage, and spending, it is clear that the national environment is having the largest effect on election outcomes.” (Agreed.)
  • Turnout in Democratic areas matched their relative rates from 2017: about 60-70% of the previous presidential election. But in Republican areas, turnout was at 75-80% of 2020 levels, even though 2020 turnout was at an all-time high itself.” (Exactly – Dem turnout was up 200,000 from 2017, when Ralph Northam won in a landslide, yet Republicans still emerged victorious due to MASSIVE, near-presidential-turnout levels on their side)
  • “Virginia has become more diverse in recent years, both in terms of population and in the composition of the electorate, but this trend essentially stopped in 2021 among gubernatorial voters. The percent of voters that were white dropped from 79% (2009) to 76% (2013) to 74% (2017), but that number appears to have held steady at 74% in 2021.” (If that percentage had continued its decline, it’s quite likely that Democrats would have held the House of Delegates, probably the Attorney General’s office as well…)
  • “Youth voting usually sees a significant drop-off from presidential to odd-year elections. This was true in Virginia, but this drop-off occurred from a significantly higher baseline thanks to record-breaking youth turnout in 2020. At the same time, older cohorts showed less drop-off for an odd year election, as we’d expect.” (Not surprising, but disappointing and frustrating. Also, compare to Tom Bonier’s analysis, which found that “Republicans rode a ‘silver surge’ to victory in VA last year.”)
  • In Virginia, [exit polls] show that almost the entire change from Biden to Youngkin support came from white non-college voters. We think this is inaccurate, as we don’t see any evidence of this in our or other data. Because the exits are weighted to add up to the correct result, this means estimates of other demographic groups are also unreliable. ” (Interesting.)


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