Reason #1 African American turnout surprised everyone. Black voters are now high turnout voters even in off-year elections — we saw this in Virginia last year and James Carville says it will happen in Louisiana this year. There and elsewhere voter suppression is a visible, ugly race-motivated effort to deny African Americans and Latinos the right to vote and they noticed.
Reason #2 Democrats in Senate and Governor’s races ran on economic issues that affected unmarried and working women and these notorious non-presidential year drop-off voters decided the election matters. Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund and the House and Senate Democratic leaders have been pressing just such an agenda and Ron Brownstein just spotlighted where they are making the difference in the National Journal. Republican opposition to equal pay for women has been the strongest attack against GOP candidates.
Reason #3 The conservative Republican governing model that swept the states in 2010 is deeply unpopular, and conservative governors are immensely unpopular. We see this in North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Maine.
Reason #4 Latino voters notice that Republicans are running as the anti-immigrant party, and they begin to emulate African Americans who see important reasons to vote. They may notice ads from the RGA that accuse Democrats of favoring welfare for illegal immigrants or that the Republican House voted to rescind President Obama’s executive order on the ‘Dreamers.’
Reason #5 The Republican party brand and Republican Party priorities— both deeply unpopular with voters – mattered more than President Obama in the contested states. The national coverage centered on President Obama, but successful Democratic candidates in the states were using paid media to remind voters each day what today’s GOP really believes.