Yet in 2018, it’s impossible to dismiss the partisan and cultural divide as a myth. And voters agree; in the National Exit Poll, 76 percent of voters in the midterms said they believe Americans are “becoming more divided.” But these divisions increasingly make less and less sense as a split between red states and blue states, with state boundaries creating the dividing line. If you take a look at the many ways that the presidential election results of 2016 can be represented on a map, and red vs. blue visually have become much more about population density, with blue dots at America’s cities, surrounded by a field of red.
The reason why the House of Representatives fell out of Republican control in this election was not just because blue states behaved like blue states, or got bluer. Yes, Republicans got wiped out in many House districts in New Jersey, Illinois, California — quintessential blue states. But of the 32 seats that had been called as of Tuesday, just over half were in blue states. Another small handful were in the state of Pennsylvania, which is a red state as of 2016 but was also significantly redistricted as a result of a court decision earlier this year.
It was districts in the red states, places like Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah, and South Carolina, places that voted for Donald Trump by vast double-digit margins, where voters also showed Republicans the door on Tuesday. And it was, in particular, the suburbs that drove these shifts.