America’s Shockingly Moderate Electorate – WSJ


The more things change, the more they stay the same—or so it seems in American politics, after the electorate returned the Democratic establishment to power after rejecting it for a rogue outsider four years ago. The surprise finding of the exit polls is that moderates and men provided the crucial swing voters who put Joe Biden into office.

Has the American electorate changed? The answer is that despite billions of dollars spent on persuasion, massive increases in turnout, a media with an agenda, and racial unrest, the changes in American voting patterns were minuscule.

We are one country divided by two parties. The nation is largely moderate, practical and driven by common sense over ideology. Most voters prefer compromise on health care, immigration, stimulus and other thorny issues that the extremes of the parties have pushed to the limits. Only 24% of voters identify as liberal, while 38% say they’re conservative, according to CNN exit polls. Another 38% are moderate. Despite the widespread publicity given the left, since 2014—a good year for Republicans—the percentage of self-identified liberals declined 2 points, while the share of conservatives increased 3 points.

By now everyone has heard that President Trump did worse in the suburbs and better with minorities than in 2016. While technically true, the suburban swing occurred before the 2018 midterms, and the minority shift was relatively small, except for Hispanic voters in Florida and the border towns of Texas. Some surprising findings have been overlooked. Mr. Trump’s margin of victory among white women increased from 11 to 13 points, according to CNN’s final adjusted exit polls. But his advantage among white men narrowed from 30 points to 23.

Mr. Biden won almost all the liberals and Mr. Trump the conservatives. But Mr. Biden expanded the Democratic lead among moderates to 30 points from 12 in 2016—the single most significant change. Moderate men swung the race to Mr. Biden.


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