The Corner

The Democrats’ Working-Class Problem

A couple of shrewd pieces of election analysis from the Left. First John Judis at The New Republic:
…in 2016 and in future midterm elections, the Democrats will still have to do better among those parts of the electorate that have flocked to the Republicans: older voters and white working-class voters. The numbers for the latter in this election were singularly dispiriting. In Florida, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist lost whites without college degrees by 32 to 61 percent; in Virginia, Senator Mark Warner’s near-death experience was due to losing these voters by 30 to 68 percent. In Colorado and Iowa, they held the key to Republican Senate victories. In 2012, the Democrats benefited by facing a Republican who reeked of money and privilege and displayed indifference toward the 47 percent. Romney lost the white working class in states like Ohio. Democrats may not have that luxury of a Mitt Romney in the next election. And in that case, they will have to do considerably better among these voters, or else 2016 could turn out to be another nightmare election for the Democrats.
And Greg Sargent of the Washington Post talks to Democratic pollsters about the same issue:

“We have a problem,” Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, who polled on the Kentucky Senate race, told me. “If we’re really going to expand our chances in the Senate and House, we have to appeal to a wider group than we are now.”

The exit polls show that candidates like Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan, Bruce Braley and Mark Udall lost by anywhere from large to truly massive margins among non-college whites and older voters. That’s also true of theoverall national electorate. You should treat these exit polls with a grain of salt, but the pollsters I spoke to agree that this gets at a fundamental problem Democrats face….

“We have a huge problem: People do not think the recovery has affected them, and this is particularly true of blue collar white voters,” [Democratic pollster Celinda] Lake said. “What is the Democratic economic platform for guaranteeing a chance at prosperity for everyone? Voters can’t articulate it. In the absence of that, you vote for change.”

“Our number one imperative for 2016,” Lake concluded, “is to articulate a clear economic vision to get this country going again.”

That is quite an indictment, if obviously true: In the late Obama years, Democrats are vision-less and out of gas. It also gets to the challenge for Republicans: Setting out their own version of such a vision and finding a candidate in 2016 who can (among other things) take it to working-class voters more convincingly than Mitt Romney did in 2012.

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