For years, partisans and ideologues have assured us that the political center is dead, so don’t bother making persuasive arguments to swing voters. Just get your base out, and may the most “energized” team win. The 2018 midterm elections, however, showed that the center’s demise has been greatly exaggerated.
The big story was the revolt of suburban voters, led by white, college-educated women, against President Trump’s polarizing populism. Their defection helped Democrats win the popular vote (again), score their biggest gains in the House of Representatives since 1974 and add a slew of new governors.
A national poll by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) and Expedition Strategies taken on the eve of the midterm provides further evidence that America’s pragmatic center is resilient and bouncing back after two years of Trump’s bizarre presidency.
It suggests that our democracy’s firewalls against demagoguery and extremism are still intact and that Trump’s 2016 win may be an aberration, a detour rather than a fundamental realignment of U.S. politics.
In fact, our survey illuminates a new political landscape that is favorable to Democrats heading into the 2020 presidential election cycle.