2018 Midterms: Did anti-establishment Democrats perform better?

Republicans here!

Anti-establishment Democrats outperformed establishment Democrats by an average of 1.9 points relative to their districts’ partisan leans in the 2018 U.S. House general elections Election performance: anti-establishment vs. establishment Democrats


What if?

If Biden Endorsed? were ignored, and/or Party Support? and/or Obama Alum? were considered indicative of establishment status, the observed effect becomes even smaller (closer to 1 point) and the effect is no longer statistically significant. This illustrates that the effect is very small and highly dependent on how one categorizes a candidate as “establishment” or “anti-establishment”.


I used FiveThirtyEight’s dataset on 2018 Democratic primary candidates. This dataset includes only candidates who had primary challengers, so incumbent U.S. Representatives who did not face a primary challenge were excluded from this analysis.

Data Sources

2018 Midterms

2018 Midterms: Did anti-establishment candidates really perform better?

“The Year of the Woman”: Did candidate gender impact electoral performance?

2018 Midterms: Did candidates’ professional background, characteristics, and/or identities affect performance?

U.S. House: Do moderates come from swing districts? Relationship between caucus/coalition membership and district partisan lean

Last Updated: Feb 8, 2019