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Member since: Sat Nov 1, 2008, 10:12 AM
Number of posts: 2,620

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Democrats: Left in the Lurch.

This is one of the best write-ups I've yet seen to help understand this election - where we're at - and why we're there.

When President-elect Donald Trump replaces Barack Obama on January 20, the Democratic Party will find itself more removed from power than at almost any point since the party’s creation.

Scorned by the same voters who once embraced the New Deal, built the Great Society, and put their hope in the nation’s first black president, Democrats are now locked out of power in Washington and out of two-thirds of state legislative chambers across the country.

Simply put, Democrats’ once vaunted coalition of the ascendant — younger, multiethnic, educated, and urban — failed them in 2016, and in 2014 and 2010 before that. That coalition proved to have major handicaps, part demographic and part geographic, that have been hollowing out the party for years.

Democrats may find cold comfort in Hillary Clinton’s nearly 3 million popular vote lead and the fact that more people call themselves “liberal” than ever polled. And they can, and do, fairly protest a system of representative government that allows the government to be so unrepresentative of the popular vote. But it will be up to Democrats to solve their own problem within the current rules.

Countless autopsies will be written of the 2016 election. Most will focus on the strategy and tactics of the Clinton campaign. But to understand how Democrats arrived in this mess to begin with, it helps to go back to the party’s founding over 150 years ago.

Obama’s former Attorney General Eric Holder recently launched a party-wide effort, backed by the outgoing president, focused on turning the tables on gerrymandering by winning back state legislatures ahead of 2020, when they will redraw congressional districts. The effort is crucial to Democrats’ ability to win back the House, since the party has only one chance to change the maps every 10 years.

But Democrats a have a deeper, structural problem beyond gerrymandering. Democrats lost the House in 2010 before Republicans had redrawn the maps.

The problem is quirky but its effects are profound: Electorally speaking, Democrats live in the wrong places.

Democrats could always just call 2016 a black swan event and carry on without major changes. Clinton won the popular vote, after all, and many Democrats think she only lost the Electoral College because of Russian hacking or FBI Director James Comey’s last-minute intervention.

In the 2020 presidential election, the electorate will continue to evolve in Democrats’ favor as minorities and millennials make up a larger share of overall voters while non-college educated whites continue to decline. Indeed, four more years of natural demographic changes alone might be enough to give Democrats the relatively tiny number of voters Clinton would have needed in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to win the Electoral College in 2016.

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