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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

A Path to Democratic Victory

From Laura Meckler’s Wll St. Journal article, “How Democrats Could Win the White House Again in 2016-Report“:

To win the presidency in 2016, Democrats must climb a steep hill: persuade Americans to keep them in power for a third straight term at a time of voter frustration at the status, heightened fear of terrorism and low approval ratings for outgoing President Barack Obama.
But they have a powerful force in their favor: demographics, and the fact that the party is strongest with groups of voters that are on the ascent-racial minorities, young people, college-educated professionals and secular voters.
A new report by demographics expert Ruy Teixeira and colleagues at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, does the math and comes up with significant advantages for Democrats heading into 2016, and also some potential pitfalls.
Based on demographic shifts alone, the report finds that if the 2016 Democratic nominee performs as well as Mr. Obama did in 2012 with various voter groups, she (or he) would win by six percentage points–up from Mr. Obama’s four-point win last time.

Meckler quotes the report’s authors, who credit the Democratic Party for keeping up with the demographic transformation, “enabling the party to grow markedly at the national level.” However, add the authors, “If Democrats are to retain the presidency in 2016, they will need to successfully transfer the enthusiasm and support of the Obama coalition to a new candidate and overcome the wide belief that the party had its shot for eight years and that it is now time for a change.”
That’s an enormous challenge, which Democrats must face, regardless of how crazy things get in the Republican primary season. Meckler notes that the white voter percentage of the electorate is projected to decline to 72 percent by November of next year (down from 74 percent in 2012), and the “percentage of white working class voters–who are particularly supportive of the GOP–is falling even faster.” Meckler cautions, however,

Huge numbers of black and Hispanic voters turned out to vote in 2008 and 2012, and 81% of them voted for Mr. Obama, the nation’s first black president. Most observers think that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, or any other nominee, would face a challenge replicating those high turnout levels and such strong levels of support. The report notes that in 2000, Vice President Al Gore won 77% of the minority vote, and in 2004, Democrat John Kerry took just 74%. Both lost (though Mr. Gore won the popular vote).

But Dems do have some wiggle room, notes Meckler, with the rapid demographic transformation, plus a possible uptick in support from white women if Clinton wins the Democratic presidential nomination. If Sanders is nominated, he could also increase pro-Democratic turnout by certain segments of the electorate.
The report identified Ohio and Wisconsin as potential problem areas for Democrats. But Meckler quotes Teixeira’s colleague William Frey as putting Nevada, which has experienced rapid growth in Latino voters, is now likely a “safe” state for Dems.

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