Democrats' narrow path to winning the House

But Democrats on Tuesday made much less progress cracking the competing Republican coalition, which revolves around older, blue-collar, non-urban, and evangelical whites who generally express anxiety about demographic, cultural, and economic change. Even amid Gillespie’s lopsided defeat, he still held 72 percent of non-college-educated whites and nearly four in five white evangelical Christians. He also improved on the GOP’s margins from 2013 in many rural southwestern counties. And 15 of the 16 state House seats that Democrats captured came in districts that Clinton carried, noted Geoffrey Skelley, the associate editor of the political publication Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

A suburban recoil from Trump in places like New Jersey; the Philadelphia suburbs in Pennsylvania; and Orange County, California, can propel Democrats to the brink of a U.S. House majority: Eighteen of the 23 House Republicans holding seats that Clinton carried in 2016 represent districts with more white college graduates than the national average. And Republicans hold another 30 House seats with higher-than-average numbers of white college graduates where Clinton improved over Obama’s showing in 2012. Tuesday’s blowout is also likely to encourage more retirements among House Republicans in white-collar districts, increasing Democratic opportunity. Still, relying only on white-collar places would leave Democrats very little margin for error. Because the coalition of transformation is so centralized in the largest urban areas, it is better suited for winning the White House than either the House or the Senate (and even that advantage cracked with Trump’s Electoral College win).