Democrats may have retaken control of the House, but Tuesday’s midterms also showed that Donald Trump’s 2016 election wasn’t a fluke — and that his supporters will show up to vote for Republicans.
And while some of the election’s Trumpiest candidates — such as New York’s Claudia Tenney and Iowa’s Steve King — lost or underperformed, other Republican candidates continued to surf the crest of 2016’s wave, even if they were building on their own previous success.
To identify the congressional districts where Trump’s base remains particularly strong, BuzzFeed News analyzed data from this year’s midterms and the three previous presidential elections. Specifically, districts where:
Trump beat Clinton in 2016
Trump won at least 5% more of the vote than McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012
The Republican House candidate won in 2018
The Republican House candidate didn’t underperform Trump by more than 3 percentage points
The districts span 10 states, nearly all east of the Mississippi River. Incumbent candidates won them all. Some — like Alabama’s 4th District, where Rob Aderholt and Trump each won 80% of the vote — are Solo cup–red states that managed to go even redder than for Romney or McCain. In others, the Trump and his party’s House candidate simply won where Romney and McCain couldn’t.
The districts share certain characteristics: They’re mostly rural and suburban, very white, lower income, and have relatively few residents with bachelor’s degrees. Missouri’s 8th District, won handily by Jason Smith, is a prime example: 91% of its residents are white, and its median household income ($40,542) and bachelor’s degree attainment (16%) are substantially below both the state and national average. (New York’s 1st and 2nd Districts, the most closely contested of the 15 seats, happen to buck these demographic trends.)
Sources: Daily Kos (presidential results by district), Associated Press via the New York Times (2018 results).