Several factors that pollsters look at are predicting a “blue wave’ in the fall elections, and some observers are calling 2018 the “year of the woman” given the number of female candidates running across the country. And it seems female voters are getting ready to strengthen the Democratic Party.
In CNN’s June poll, half of voters said they’d vote for a Democratic candidate in the upcoming midterm elections, with 42% saying they’d vote for a Republican. This question is colloquially referred to as the generic ballot, and it’s a useful measure of how the two parties will perform in an election.
There are other predictors that find a “blue wave” is coming as well.
First off, more people (especially women) are planning on voting for the Democratic candidate this year. This is somewhat expected since the opposing party holds the presidency and majorities in both chambers of Congress.
The amount of people saying they’ll vote for the Democratic candidate has increased by 5 percentage points in total, by 1 percentage point among men and by 8 percentage points among women compared with near this time before the midterm elections in 2014. The men’s vote for the Republican candidate also has increased, but only by 2 percentage points, while female support for the GOP has dropped by 10 percentage points.
This is also the highest the generic Democratic candidate has been in CNN polling at this point before a midterm in the past four midterm cycles. The 2006 election was widely considered a wave election for the Democrats, due to their substantial gains in Congress – they won majorities in the House and Senate – and major wins in gubernatorial races. Polling at this point in 2006 showed 44% of voters said they’d vote for the Democratic candidate and 36% planned to vote Republican – a 9-point advantage for the Democrats. In the most recent CNN poll, Democrats have an 8-point advantage.
It’s clear Democratic support has grown since the most recent midterms, with those who said they’d vote for the generic Democratic candidate and those who said they’d vote for the generic Republican candidate basically tied in 2014.
Men have generally trended to be more Republican. Men backed Republicans by about the same amount in 2014 and 2018.
However, while women supported the Democratic candidate over the Republican by a 7-point margin in 2014, CNN’s June data shows the group saying they’ll vote for Democrats over Republicans by a 25-point margin in 2018.
It’s hard to say whether women moving toward the Democratic Party is simply partisanship becoming more polarized or if they feel empowered by the amount of female candidates on the ballot in 2018. It’s likely some combination.
With this centering – men headed toward Republicans and women toward Democrats – there’s a 33-point difference between how many women are planning to vote for the Democratic candidate in the 2018 midterms and how many Democrats are planning to do the same. CNN’s polling in June shows 91 percent of Democrats plan to back the Democratic candidate. A smaller gap between the percentage of women planning to back the Democratic Party and Democrats planning to vote for the Democratic candidate means more women are planning to back Democrats than usual.
In past years, that gap has been much bigger. A big gap between the numbers means women aren’t staying with the base Democrats as much, with 2014 resulting in a 48-point difference between women’s vote for the blue candidate and Democrats’ vote. The difference in 2006 is relatively similar but still not as small, at 38 percentage points apart.
The graphic shows women moved away from the Democratic Party in 2010 and 2014 polling but are returning in 2018.
Men do almost the opposite. While 2010 (a wave election for Republicans) was a big year for men to vote with the Republican Party, they’ve been moving away since then.