The Democrats still cannot pick up the pieces of their party since losing the 2016 presidential election, a New York Times op-ed writer says.
Tom Edsall, a veteran Washington D.C. journalist and professor of political journalism at Columbia University, argued in a Thursday Times column that Democrats’ lost not just among white working class voters who favored Trump, but also with minority voters who failed to show up to vote.
“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,” Edsall writes.
Priorities USA surveys and focus groups found that “drop off voters” who usually vote for Democrats but did not vote in the last two midterms felt apathetic towards Hillary Clinton. Only 30 percent of these voters were favorable to Clinton while 70 percent of them were favorable to Barack Obama.
Edsall adds that Priorities also looked at the estimated 6.7 to 9.2 million Obama-to-Trump voters. Trump gained Obama-won counties in mainly Midwest and Rust Belt states.
Democratic consultants and pollsters have told Edsall that Trump’s campaign strategy relating to race and immigration was clever and “dastardly” while Democrats have an elitism problem that has not gone away.
“So it may be that within economically distressed communities, the individuals who found Trump appealing (or who left Obama for Trump) were the ones where the cultural and racial piece was a strong part of the reason why they went in that direction. So I guess my take is that it’s probably not economics alone that did it. Nor is it racism/cultural alienation alone that did it. It’s probably that mixture,” Nick Gourevitch, a partner in Global Strategies, told Edsall.
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg told Edsall that working class Americans distanced themselves from the party because of the previous administration’s praise of framing economic success in the form of bailouts, while average Americans struggled financially.
“The Democrats don’t have a ‘white working-class problem.’ They have a ‘working-class problem,’ which progressives have been reluctant to address honestly or boldly. The fact is that Democrats have lost support with all working-class voters across the electorate, including the Rising American Electorate of minorities, unmarried women, and millennials. This decline contributed mightily to the Democrats’ losses in the states and Congress and to the election of Donald Trump,” Greenberg said.
Ultimately, Edsall found from his sources that Democrats “allowed themselves to become the party of the status quo” but that Trump has forced Democrats to take a hard look at where they have been neglecting their base and the resentment that has risen from it.