washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: The Working Class Vs. The “Woke-eoisie” — Which Way Will Elizabeth Warren Go?

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Elizabeth Warren could win the Democratic nomination and even win the general election. But to do so, she’s got to make some changes. As Jeff Greenfield notes in Politico,

“The strategic premises of her campaign are to claim the progressive mantle from Bernie Sanders, stake the “alternative to Biden” ground, and then engage in a one-on-one battle for the nomination….There are significant challenges to this strategy, not the least of which is winning over a reasonable share of the African American vote, where Biden dominates…..

In polls, Warren trails Biden in South Carolina by dozens of points. What’s more, about half of the state’s black Democrats say they support Biden, while Warren is practically tied for the lead among the state’s white Democrats.

And African American Democrats are, as Tom Edsall pointed out in a much-discussed column in the New York Times, on average, more centrist than white Democrats. The party’s “more moderate wing, which is pressing bread-and-butter concerns like jobs, taxes and a less totalizing vision of health care reform, is majority nonwhite, with almost half of its support coming from African-American and Hispanic voters,” he wrote.

So it would make sense for Warren to draw some distinctions between herself and her party’s most liberal voters, in order to make her candidacy more appealing—or at least acceptable—to the elements of her party that do not fully embrace the canon. And there’s a long history of winning presidential candidates doing this without alienating their most loyal supporters.”

This shouldn’t be so hard. Most of her economic positions are fine in the context of today’s Democratic party and can be sold to a wider electorate in a general election. Voters really do oppose crony capitalism and really do want a reformed system that isn’t dominated by the rich and Wall Street and is focused on the welfare of the middle class and poor. That plugs right into the concerns of the moderate voters, particularly nonwhite and working class voters, mentioned by Edsall.

But Warren has gone too far in some areas, competing to seem the most “woke” on issues like decriminalizing the border and reparations and endorsing Medicare for All instead of Medicare for All Who Want It. This is not necessary. Her strong economic program has great appeal but so far Warren’s support is heavily dominated by educated whites, with very little noncollege or nonwhite support, as shown by the graphic below.

No photo description available.

That needs to change and the way to do it is to take positions that appeal to the working class, not the “woke-eoisie”, and ditch the ones that don’t. My guess is she’d retain most of her educated white support anyway but start gaining in places where she’s currently weak. If she wants to win, that may be a bet she’ll have to make.

2 comments on “Teixeira: The Working Class Vs. The “Woke-eoisie” — Which Way Will Elizabeth Warren Go?

  1. Victor on

    She will have to slowly pivot and her discourse is ambiguous enough on healthcare (by refusing to put out her own ideas).

    But all Democrats have made immigration central to the strategy to defeat Trump, so it will be harder to walk back the decriminalization idea. Her immigration proposal has no enforcement component.

  2. Rod on

    I’m a big supporter of Warren intellectually. But I think her campaign will be a political trainwreck. This is most unfortunate as it’s entirely unnecessary, but will be the result of a series of unforced political errors. Pity.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.