With so many candidates who are not white men on the ballot Tuesday, it’s a near-certainty that there will be some barrier-breaking success stories. But will they happen in the predominantly white working-class areas of the country that determined the outcome of the 2016 presidential race, and could do so again in 2020?
For example, Democrat Mikie Sherrill is primed to flip New Jersey ‘s 11th Congressional District after 34 years in Republican hands. She’s led every poll. She holds a sizable money advantage. She has a strong personal story as a former Navy pilot. And she’s elevated the unfavorables of her white male opponent, Jay Webber, with an ad campaign that hammers him for what she says are retrograde views on equal pay for women and gay rights. But she’s running in a district Trump won by only a hair. And unlike most of Trump’s turf, a majority of the district’s residents are college graduates, and therefore tend to be more culturally liberal. The gender card may work for Democrats here, yet not in the places where it really counts two years from now.
With those demographic factors in mind, keep a close eye on these 25 races. They’ll give us the hardest evidence yet of how well Democratic women and people of color candidates fare in Trump’s America.