The Corner

The Coalition of the Ascendant?

This National Journal piece is, to say the least, food for thought.

Here’s an extract:

With his suddenly aggressive second-term agenda, President Obama is recasting the Democratic Party around the priorities of the growing coalition that reelected him—and, in the process, reshaping the debate with the GOP in ways that will reverberate through 2016 and beyond.

On issues from gay rights to gun control, immigration reform, and climate change—all of which he highlighted in his ringing Inaugural Address last week—Obama is now unreservedly articulating the preferences of the Democratic “coalition of the ascendant” centered on minorities, the millennial generation, and socially liberal upscale whites, especially women. Across all of these issues, and many others such as the pace of withdrawal from Afghanistan and ending the ban on women in combat, Obama is displaying much less concern than most national Democratic leaders since the 1960s about antagonizing culturally conservative blue-collar, older, and rural whites, many of whom oppose them.

A “ringing” inaugural address? Who knew?

But I interrupt:

Democrats have been constrained since the 1960s by fear of losing the blue-collar, rural, and older white voters who traditionally made up the conservative end of their electoral coalition. Reflecting that perspective, House Blue Dogs, as well as swing-state and red-state Democrats in the Senate, who represent regions with large numbers of those voters, have often discouraged the party from highlighting issues such as gun control and immigration reform, much less gay marriage.

But the ongoing racial and ideological sorting of the electorate has rapidly reduced the Democrats’ dependence on those voters. In 2012, Obama lost more than three-fifths of noncollege whites and whites older than 45; he carried only one-third of noncollege white men, the worst performance of any Democratic nominee since Walter Mondale was buried in Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide. Yet Obama nonetheless won a solid victory by posting strong numbers with minorities (a combined 80 percent), the millennials (60 percent), and college-educated white women (46 percent overall and more in many key states); moreover, each of those groups expanded its share of the total vote. (For the first time, white women with college degrees cast more votes last year than white men without them.)

As I said, food for thought.

Read the whole thing. 


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