Five primary takeaways point to Democratic gains in November

Five primary takeaways point to Democratic gains in November
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What are the overarching lessons from the latest primary elections?

First, given the results in Ohio and Washington, far more seats are likely available for Democratic pickups than was thought previously. One of the most notable takeaways was in the 12th congressional district of Ohio, where voters came out to bring Democrat Danny O’Connor within 1 point of Republican Troy Balderson in a district that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE not only carried by double digits two years ago, but also a district that has been represented by a Republican in Congress for more than 30 years.

Further, the results in Washington state indicate there will be a number of competitive seats in November that historically have been held by Republicans. These include the fourth ranking Republican in Congress, Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersLawmakers celebrate 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote The GOP's commitment to electing talented women can help party retake the House McCain and Dingell: Inspiring a stronger Congress MORE, whose seat is now at risk against Democrat Lisa Brown. Following the primary elections last week, a number of commentators on cable television have suggested the results indicate that anywhere from 50 seats to 60 seats are risky for Republicans.

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While I think that is an exaggeration, it is fair to say that the results have dispelled any doubt about the potential for the Democrats to make significant gains in November. The House of Representatives is very definitely in play, and the Democrats at this point are clear favorites. Of course, things can change in 90 days, with national events and developments on the campaign trail. But at this point, although not a certainty, there is a clear likelihood that Democrats will win the House.

Second, the suburbs remain a great problem for the Republicans in ways that are hard to overestimate. In the heavily Republican 12th congressional district of Ohio, the two suburban areas are Franklin County and Delaware County. Takeaways from both of these areas reveal how the Republicans have become steadily weaker since 2016. In Delaware County, Republican Balderson won narrowly on Tuesday but only got around 60 percent of the vote that Donald Trump won in 2016, while Democrat O’Connor got nearly 75 percent of the vote that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from Trump's 2020 kickoff rally Five takeaways from Trump's 2020 kickoff rally Trump jokes he'd get 'electric chair' if he deleted even one 'love note' email to Melania MORE received.

This trend is even more evident in Franklin County, where Balderson got just over 50 percent of the vote that Trump received in 2016, while O’Connor got more than 65 percent of the vote Clinton received, ultimately leading him to win that county. Moreover, there has been a significant drop in Republican turnout, especially in suburban districts. For Republicans, the totality of the primary results thus far indicate that a number of suburban seats are at risk around the country.

Third, this is truly the year of the women. On Tuesday, the Democrats nominated two female candidates in Michigan and another Kansas, as well as a number of female candidates in Washington and Missouri. Further, with Florida primaries still to come, this enhances the possibility that more female candidates will nominated. Ultimately, this bodes well for Democrats as an explicit appeal to women, which is something that Republicans and Trump have no clear strategy to combat.

A Quinnipiac University poll from July showed that Democrats have a nearly two-to-one lead in support from women in hypothetical House races. Unless Republicans adopt a more moderate, inclusive strategy which emphasizes an economic plan that both looks ahead and touts recent successes, rather than continuing to execute their “polarize and divide” strategy, it is likely that the gender gap will be exacerbated and Republicans will fail to maximize their vote in November.

Fourth, the strategy that proved so successful for President Trump on Tuesday and thus far in the primary election cycle, which is to endorse those Republican candidates who promote his agenda, is unlikely to be as successful in the general election. Ultimately, as you move away from areas that were core Trump districts, turnout got higher. Put another way, the higher the level of turnout, the more Democratic the area.

This is substantiated by the fact that, in Ohio, O’Connor got 62 percent of the 162,000 votes that Clinton won in 2016, while Balderson won just 102,000 votes in a district where Trump received 206,000 votes in 2016, which is less than 50 percent. Evidently, Republicans have a turnout issue, especially in rural areas, and a persuasion issue in the suburbs, both of which will certainly pose a problem for them come fall.

Fifth, remember that primary elections are not general elections. Yes, Trump has to get his base and the traditional conservative base fired up. Yet, the results from Tuesday show that core Trump supporters are not showing up to the polls as much as the Republicans need. While primary turnout is almost always lower than for the general election, the lack of enthusiasm for Republican candidates is a harbinger for midterms.

Ultimately, a lot can change by November and it will be up to both the Democrats and the Republicans to motivate their core supporters.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books, including “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”