Dear Commons Community,
Thomas Edsall, contributing op-ed columnist for the New York Times, had a sobering piece yesterday on the state of the Democratic Party. Essentially he looked at the slippage of voters for Hillary Clinton and paints a less-than-rosy picture for the Party’s success in the near future. Here is an excerpt:
“Sifting through the wreckage of the 2016 election, Democratic pollsters, strategists and sympathetic academics have reached some unnerving conclusions.
What the autopsy reveals is that Democratic losses among working class voters were not limited to whites; that crucial constituencies within the party see its leaders as alien; and that unity over economic populism may not be able to turn back the conservative tide.
Equally disturbing, winning back former party loyalists who switched to Trump will be tough: these white voters’ views on immigration and race are in direct conflict with fundamental Democratic tenets.
Some of these post-mortem conclusions are based on polling and focus groups conducted by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA; others are drawn from a collection of 13 essays published by The American Prospect.
A consistent theme is that the focus on white defections from the Democratic Party masks an even more threatening trend: declining turnout among key elements of the so-called Rising American Electorate — minority, young and single voters. Turnout among African-Americans, for example, fell by 7 points, from 66.6 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent in 2016.
Priorities USA, in surveys and focus groups, studied “drop off voters,” those who lean Democratic but failed to vote in either 2014 or 2016. By and large, these voters were members of the coalition that elected and re-elected Barack Obama:
people of color (41% African-American, Hispanic, or Asian), young (22% under the age of 29), female (60%), and unmarried (46% single, separated, widowed, or divorced).
Priorities found that drop off voters were distinctly lukewarm toward Hillary Clinton:
Just 30% describe themselves as very favorable to Clinton, far lower than the 72% who describe themselves as very favorable to Barack Obama.
Priorities also studied Obama-to-Trump voters. Estimates of the number of such voters range from 6.7 to 9.2 million, far more than enough to provide Trump his Electoral College victory. The counties that switched from Obama to Trump were heavily concentrated in the Midwest and other Rust Belt states.
To say that this constituency does not look favorably on the Democratic Party fails to capture the scope of their disenchantment.”
I hope the Democratic Party leadership reads this and can develop a strategy to win back the voters who supported Barack Obama. I am not sure it can.