What 2021’s Biggest Upset Elections Tell Us About The Losing Parties

What 2021’s biggest upset elections tell us about the losing parties, via @FiveThirtyEight:

12/7/2021 9:53:00 AM

What 2021’s biggest upset elections tell us about the losing parties, via FiveThirtyEight:

2021 was bookended by high-profile elections. In early January, traditionally GOP-leaning Georgia sent two Democrats to the U.S. Senate in two runoff elections,…

, too.But once again, to understand how each party won in a state that usually backs the other, we compared their vote share to Biden’s and Trump’s in the 2020 presidential election across precincts. In this case, we just looked at Perdue’s race against Ossoff, as that contest proved closer (1.2 points) than Warnock’s against Loeffler’s (2 points).

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Turnout declined less dramatically in Georgia from the presidential to the runoff than in Virginia from the presidential to the gubernatorial,3but as in Virgina, we plotted the change in two-party votes from the 2020 presidential election by how much a precinct supported Trump in 2020. And as you can see in the chart below, both Ossoff and Perdue won fewer votes relative to their party’s presidential candidates in all types of precincts.

Still, the places where they lost votes weren’t even. There was pro-Democratic mobilization inheavily Black areas, but the votes cast did not quite keep pace with presidential votes from 2020 (lines slope slightly downward). Ossoff lost more ground relative to the November presidential race in heavily pro-Biden precincts, meaning that Perdue improved on Trump’s margin in those precincts. In fact, if Perdue had also received Trump’s margin over Biden elsewhere, he would have won. headtopics.com

But that’s not what happened. Instead, Perdue ended up losing the election primarily because of underperformance in heavily pro-Trump precincts, as the sharp downward slope of the Republican line on the chart’s right side makes clear.Simply put, Perdue lost the election in places where Trump did best. We cannot say for certain why he underperformed so substantially heavily pro-Trump precincts — whether the underperformance reflected

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turnout, persuasion or both. But because Ossoff did not see large gains relative to Biden in those precincts, it is reasonable to think Perdue’s problem was, at least in part, that many November Trump voters stayed home in January.Right after the January runoffs in Georgia, it seemed quite plausible that in heavily pro-Trump precincts, Trump had a mobilization advantage over a more traditional Republican like Perdue. But the Virginia results showed that another businessman-turned-politician could outperform Trump, even in Trump’s strongholds and even in a governor’s race in which overall turnout was less than in the presidential election.

When viewed alongside Virginia, decreased turnout in heavily Republican precincts in Georgia’s runoffs lends itself to another interpretation. Republicans don’t always face a disadvantage without Trump on the ballot — Virginia makes that clear. But they did face a disadvantage before Biden took office, when Trump’s false election claims and accusations against Georgia elections officials were at a

fever pitch.But perhaps the biggest takeaway is that in both contests, Virginia in November and Georgia in January, the losing party faltered most on its own home field.

Read more: ABC News »

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