Saturday, July 30, 2016

Will Democrats Welcome Less Educated White Working-Class Voters?

Cross-posted from American Power.



Democrats hate the white working-class, especially white working-class men in flyover country. That demographic is literally a despised enemy fit to be shot.

I didn't blog it at the time, for some reason, but this description of leftist hatred of the white working-class is perfect, at the New Yorker, "How Donald Trump is Winning Over the White Working Class":
Identity politics, of a different brand from Trump’s, is also gaining strength among progressives. In some cases, it comes with an aversion toward, even contempt for, their fellow-Americans who are white and sinking. Abstract sympathy with the working class as an economic entity is easy, but the feeling can vanish on contact with actual members of the group, who often arrive with disturbing beliefs and powerful resentments—who might not sound or look like people urban progressives want to know. White male privilege remains alive in America, but the phrase would seem odd, if not infuriating, to a sixty-year-old man working as a Walmart greeter in southern Ohio. The growing strain of identity politics on the left is pushing working-class whites, chastised for various types of bigotry (and sometimes justifiably), all the more decisively toward Trump.
See that? Chastised for bigotry, sometimes justifiably!

So, no. Democrats aren't going to win over bedrock white working-class voters. They're not even winning over white women with no college education, according to recent polls.

The question remains whether building a winning presidential coalition around this demographic will be enough to win in November. And even if Trump wins, with the coming tsunami of brown-power demographic change, to say nothing of the rising youth vote of transformation, it's doubtful Republicans would be able to hold on to power. In the back of my mind I feel we're on the verge of a long-lasting party realignment toward the Democrats, which would see far-left politics and ideology entrenched at the national level for decades. A Trump victory in November might simply postpone that inevitability. If change is too rapid, regardless of inevitability, we'll continue to have intense ideological and demographic divisions in the years ahead.

In any case, here's Ronald Brownstein, at the Atlantic, "Does the Diverse Democratic Party Have Room for the White Working-Class?":
The evocative sound of barriers falling was the signal note during the Democratic National Convention’s first two nights.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s riveting Monday-night speech condensed the centuries of racial pain and progress bound up in her husband’s two victories into a single indelible phrase: “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.” One night later, Hillary Clinton shattered another ceiling when she became the first major-party female presidential nominee.

The delegates have displayed understandable pride in these twin social milestones. But there is also an undercurrent of concern that something old is being lost in this celebration of the new. The fear among some is that this polychromatic Democratic Party, open to all races, both genders, all sexual orientations, welcoming to immigrants, and championing diversity, may not have preserved enough room for the working-class white voters who anchored the party from Andrew Jackson through Lyndon Johnson.

Those voters haven’t been the party’s center for years: except for Bill Clinton in 1996, no Democrat has won more than 40 percent of white voters without a college education since 1980, according to media exit polls. On a national basis, Democrats have largely replaced them with increased support from Millennials, minorities, and college-educated whites—while running just enough above their national numbers among working-class whites in the key Midwestern battlegrounds to retain the advantage in those pivotal states.

Even so, many in the party are incredulous that so many blue-collar whites are flocking to Donald Trump, a candidate Democrats view as uniquely divisive and unqualified. The post-Republican National Convention polls released on Monday poked directly at that anxiety. Trump held big leads among non-college whites in the surveys released by both CBS (23 percentage points) and CNN/ORC (fully 39 percentage points). The CNN poll had Trump attracting not only 69 percent of non-college white men but 64 percent of white women without college degrees—and recording most of his convention gains among the latter.

Both surveys showed Clinton holding preponderant leads among minority voters and running much better than Democrats usually do among college-educated whites. Those strengths could allow her to survive a Trump majority among working-class whites. But not any majority: If Trump’s advantage among blue-collar whites grows too large, Clinton would still struggle to overcome it with other voters.

Many Democrats are also uncomfortable with the thought of becoming a party that largely concedes the white working-class to rely on white voters mostly above the median income, and non-white voters mostly below it. (If nothing else, that’s not a plausible strategy for controlling Congress, even if it works at the presidential level.) Reduced reliance on working-class whites since the 1990s has freed Democrats to pursue a more consistently liberal cultural agenda. But anyone watching this convention’s first nights might easily view social inclusion, not economic opportunity, as the party’s core priority. “One of the challenges for Democrats is talking about diversity, talking about gender in a way that doesn’t put people on the defensive, [and] make them feel like they are being … accused of being bigoted,” says Democratic pollster Margie Omero.

The convention has exposed the inconvenient truth that Democrats no longer have many voices that intrinsically resonate in white working-class communities. Monday night’s opening speeches were often eloquent and compelling. But at one point, Cory Booker (Stanford, Yale Law School) gave way to Michelle Obama (Princeton, Harvard Law School), who was followed by former Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren. Each overcame significant barriers and showed great tenacity to scale those heights; but all were winners in the information-age meritocracy...

As note above a the New Yorker piece, it's clear leftists don't care about white working-class voters, and I expect the bedrock white turnout for Trump to be even stronger than the current consensus suggests. Indeed, if that CNN poll Brownstein cites is a reliable indicator, I'd argue Trump will be the prohibitive favorite in November.

Still, some of the polls are all over the place, and it's especially important to take a look at the survey methodology. There's been way too much variability in the numbers, with Trump up by high-single digits in one poll to the exact reverse in another (see Reuters' terrible new poll, for example).

I'll have more on this, as always.

Previously, "Two Party Conventions Showcase America's Stark Political Polarization."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hmmmm... not sure the rural counties can defeat the urban ones even if trump gets more white voters than romney.....