I’ve seen this before

From The New York Times:

The Democratic Party Is in Worse Shape Than You Thought

Thomas B. Edsall | Contributing Op-Ed Writer | June 8, 2017

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.

I have said it before: the Democrats cannot be both the party of the working person and the party of the non-working person.

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.

I suppose that it’s wholly politically incorrect to say it, but is it any particular surprise that black voter turnout, which increased dramatically with Barack Obama on the ticket,1 decreased when neither the presidential nor vice-presidential nominee was black?

That Hillary Clinton was white may be only part of the reason black voter turnout decreased, to close to what it was in 2004; Mrs Clinton was both a duller-than-dishwater candidate, who actually inspired few people, but she was also projected, by virtually, everybody, to win handily. In 2016, well, Mrs Clinton just didn’t need people to go to the polls, right? And when they didn’t, she wound up somewhat disappointed with the election results.

Skipping much further down:

Democratic pessimism today stands in contrast to the optimism that followed the elections of 2006, 2008 and 2012.

At that time, the consensus was that Democrats had found the key to sustained victory. The party saw its future in ascendant constituencies: empowered minorities, singles, social liberals and the well-educated.

Democratic activists saw the Republican Party as doomed to defeat without a radical change of course because it was tied to overlapping constituencies that they viewed as of waning significance — for example, older, non-college, evangelical white Christians.

Today, in a world of angry, fearful voters, it is liberal optimism that is at a low ebb — buffeted by a drumroll of terrorist incidents, rising levels of hostility toward immigrants and a broad animus toward difference, the unknown and the other.

Yet it was the Republicans who were optimistic, not just after 2016, but 2010 and 2014.

I’ve seen this so many times in the past few election cycles: there are all sorts of stories about how the losing party is going to be stuck in permanently losing status. The Republicans were pronounced dead following the 2008 elections, yet came back to take the House of Representatives in 2010.  After 2012, it was conceded that the GOP wasn’t quite dead, but probably locked out of the White House for the foreseeable future.  Somehow, some way, the predictions of the ‘experts’ don’t seem to yield expert results.

There’s a lot more at the original, much of it concerning the statistics of 2016, and how the Democrats face doom-and-gloom.  As much as I’d like to see the Democrats truly facing political death, ’tis better to (mis)quote Samuel Clemens: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”


  1. In 2012, black voter turnout of 66.2% exceeded that of white voters, at 61.4%. In 2008, black voter turnout was 64.7%, up from 60.0% in 2004.