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What happened with the suburban voters Democrats were targeting?

Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and host of the podcast “Politics with Amy Walter” has been analyzing the results of Tuesday’s election. She joins Judy Woodruff to provide insights and help us understand why voters made the decisions they did.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, she was by my side here all last night. And she's now safely back at home.

    But we turn again to Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and the host of the podcast "Politics With Amy Walter" to talk about and to deepen our understanding of these election results, as much as we have them.

    Amy, hello. I hope you got some sleep.

    But my first question to you is about one of the things you have looked very much at, very hard at, who the voters were that who each candidate attracted, including what happened in the suburbs.

    What are you seeing there?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, Judy, we talked a lot about the suburbs much of 2017 and 2018. The Democrats made many of their gains there.

    Abigail Spanberger, who Lisa just pointed to, is one of those emerging suburban areas where Democrats did really well in 2018. And Democrats were hoping that that suburban surge was going to help them pick up seats across the country, and, of course, especially for Joe Biden.

    It looks like it worked in some places, Arizona, flipping that state from Republican to Democrat, thanks to Biden's strength in the Phoenix suburbs, as well as Omaha, which is the one congressional district, so winning that congressional electoral vote there. That's a suburban district. But it only got them so far.

    Texas was supposed to be a place where that suburban sprawl that we have been seeing in the metroplex around Dallas and Houston was going to bring in a lot of new Democratic members of the House. That didn't happen, and it wasn't enough to flip those Sunbelt states that have been fast suburbanizing, Florida, Texas.

    We're still unclear about Georgia and North Carolina, but certainly still on pins and needles, as we're waiting for those. But the suburban surge only took Democrats so far.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    No question about it, being on pins and needles.

    And you mentioned Texas and Florida. Amy, as we know very well, Democrats were reaching for victories in these states. It didn't work out. What is our understanding of what happened, why it didn't happen?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, Judy, back in 2008 and 2012, Democrats were talking about something called the emerging majority.

    And it was that they were going to combine their strength in those blue wall states with the growing Latino vote in the Sunbelt. That was going to give them basically a permanent majority, an Electoral College majority.

    That hasn't come out to play, in part because, in this case, Donald Trump did pretty well among Latino voters, getting 45 percent of the Latino vote in Florida, a lot of that from South Florida, but also doing well in Texas, where he was able to, President Trump, that is, get about 38 percent of the vote, and Democrats really hoping to pick up a seat down in the Rio Grande Valley that they came up short in 2018.

    But once again, they were thwarted, this heavily Latino area in the Rio Grande Valley once again voting Republican for Congress and many of those voters also supporting Donald Trump.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A lot of soul-searching going on around that.

    So, Amy, separate from this, we saw in the voter surveys almost half the Americans who voted who were interviewed in these surveys said the coronavirus, the pandemic affected their vote.

    What are we seeing act how it affected what they did?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, Judy, it's sort of a mixed bag.

    Remember, we had been talking about the places that were really hard-hit here at the end of the campaign, places like Ohio and Iowa, and wondering if that was going to sort of dampen enthusiasm for the president or for other Republicans in the state.

    That doesn't look like that happened, although, in Wisconsin, a state that Biden just carried, that may have been a factor.

    Ultimately, Judy, seems like COVID, the biggest impact it's had on this race is the issue we're spending so much time on, which is early and absentee balloting, Democrats really pushing their voters to vote early, in part because of worries about a COVID surge there that would deter their voters from showing up at the polls.

    And that balloting, of course, looks like it's putting Joe Biden over the top in some of these states. But it also means that we're waiting for those votes to be counted right now.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    No question about it.

    And, Amy, we're going to be continuing to want to come to you for questions about what voters did, and why they did it, and a lot more than that.

    Amy Walter, thank you so much for tonight and for last night all night long. Thanks.

  • Amy Walter:

    Thank you.

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