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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Why it Matters That Democrats Lead White Men in the Midterms

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A trend in recent polls has been for Democratic senatorial candidates to have advantages over their opponents in purple state Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. In Wisconsin, incumbent Tammy Baldwin leads white men. In Pennsylvania, incumbent Sen. Bob Casey leads white men.

Why does this matter?

For example, in a tweet Friday afternoon, Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel wrote: “I’m a Wisconsin native who lost a father in the mass shooting at a Sikh temple. I’m struck by the GOP’s consistency on opioids. How did this happen?”

Well, he might find out if Democrats end up winning the Senate.

Here’s our breakdown of public polls that were taken between Sept. 29 and Oct. 13.

What we found:

In Wisconsin, on average, candidates in the two Democratic Senate primaries led white men. Then, those candidates only trailed white men by an average of two percentage points. Baldwin leads 67 percent to 32 percent among white men, and Casey leads 68 percent to 28 percent. No other margin outside of two points separated candidates.

Away from the primary elections, both candidates have roughly the same advantage over white men in a general election poll, which is usually rare in a blue state. It’s also unusual for the Democratic candidates to have an advantage over white men in two states.

And yet the Wisconsin Senate race remains within the margin of error: a runoff would be necessary if no candidate reached 50 percent of the vote. In Pennsylvania, Democrats largely lead white men, but the lead ranges from 10 points to 20 points. Neither candidate has much of a lead in a six-point generic Senate race, which would leave a runoff needed to determine who wins.

One point in Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania has a whopping four different polls conducted between Sept. 29 and Oct. 13.

What we found:

We needed to look at the same polls multiple times to determine whether trends are meaningful. For Wisconsin, we could do that simply by comparing the survey data from the first six surveys to the first six surveys from the second.

We found very little of a trendline: the good news is that Casey has gained with whites, but his gain is essentially insignificant, representing a roughly four-point gain. That has largely disappeared in recent days, as he trails by an average of five points with whites. The same trendline for Baldwin has remained remarkably stable.

In Pennsylvania, we had to look at the same poll different ways because the results were consistent and volatile.

Take a look at these results from a Dec. 3 PA-21 poll conducted by MONTEREY.

What we found:

Nate Cohn:

Now let’s look at the second Monmouth University survey of the PA-21 race, which was conducted Oct. 5-10.

What we found:

Like Monmouth, the poll is different in that it posed the question with the Democrats first, not the Republicans.

PA-21 PA-21

In that case, Casey leads by a much larger 19 points with whites, 57 percent to 35 percent.

You can see that in the basic trend data above.

A later poll of Pennsylvania found Clinton ahead of Trump by an average of nine points with whites, but Casey was leading with them by just five points.

We noticed that the Minot Daily News had a three-way race and found the Democrats and the Republicans going one-two with whites. That was the other way it seems to work in most other recent polls.

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