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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “This may be Biden’s best hope of reversing his slide with Black and brown voters,” Ronald Browntein writes at CNN Politics: “A wide array of recent polls shows Biden with an unusually small lead for a Democrat among both Black and Latino voters in a potential 2024 rematch with Trump. But many analysts say it’s less clear that Democrats are facing a lasting structural realignment among those voters – much less a change rooted in a long-term cultural alienation from the party – rather than immediate dissatisfaction with the economy under Biden….“I keep looking for it as well, but you are not seeing as much evidence for a culture war driving any kind of change at this moment,” said Carlos Odio, senior vice president for research at Equis Research, a Democratic polling firm that specializes in Latino voters. “What’s driving Trump and the Republicans is the economy. At the end of the day, ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ over and over again.”….If anything, rather than cultural alienation driving working-class non-White voters toward the GOP, continuing resistance in those communities to Republican priorities on many culturally and racially tinged issues may be Democrats’ best hope in 2024 of recapturing non-White voters disenchanted with Biden’s performance and the economy. Despite all the discontent over Biden, almost three-fifths of non-White voters without a college degree agreed that the “Republican Party has been taken over by racists,” in a recent national survey by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, according to previously unpublished results provided to CNN….The stakes in this struggle are enormous. White voters without a college degree, now the electorate’s most Republican-leaning group, have been steadily shrinking as a share of the total vote at a rate of about 2 to 3 percentage points in each presidential election for decades. To offset that decline, Republicans need to find votes elsewhere. The party is facing resistance among college-educated White voters, many of whom have recoiled from the hard-edged cultural and racial views the party has embraced under Trump.”

Brownstein continues, “The exit polls conducted by Edison Research for a consortium of media organizations including CNN found that Trump’s vote among non-White voters without a college degree increased from just 20% in 2016 to 26% in 2020. Research by Catalist, a Democratic voter targeting firm whose analyses are respected in both parties, found that Trump’s vote among Latino voters without a college degree spiked from 61% in 2016 to 72% in 2020; Trump also enjoyed a modest 3 percentage point gain among Black voters without a college degree over that period, Catalist found….Exactly why Trump made those gains, though, remains a matter of dispute – with important implications for 2024 and beyond. Advocates of the realignment theory argue that Trump’s gains represented an ideological rejection of Democrats among centrist and right-leaning minority voters, prompted partly by their opposition to the calls to “defund the police” in the racial justice protests that erupted after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. They pointed to evidence in exit polls that a much higher percentage of minority voters who identified as conservative voted for Trump in 2020 than in 2016….Somewhat to the surprise of both parties, the movement of non-college-educated minority voters toward the GOP stalled in the 2022 midterm election, even though those voters expressed widespread disenchantment with the economy and Biden’s performance. In Catalist’s analysis, Democrats won a slightly higher percentage of Latinos without a college degree in the 2022 House races than they did in the 2020 presidential contest. Most important for Democrats, Senate incumbents Mark Kelly in Arizona and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada – probably the two states where Latino voters are most important for the party – also ran slightly better among non-college-educated Latinos than Biden did in their states, according to previously unpublished Catalist results provided to CNN. (The exit polls, differing slightly, showed a small further national gain in 2022 for the GOP among non-White voters without a college degree.)”

Brownstein adds, “Daron Shaw, a Republican pollster and University of Texas political scientist who co-conducted a recent large national survey of Latino voters for Univision, says that those attitudes mean “there is absolutely an opening” for Trump or another GOP nominee to advance further with non-White voters in 2024. Just as many White working-class voters “felt like the financial crisis of ’08-‘09 left them rudderless [and] eroded their position in American society … both on economic grounds and on cultural grounds, there are voters within the Latino community as well, who feel no one is representing them,” Shaw said during a press call about the Univision poll….Sergio Garcia-Rios, a University of Texas political scientist who partnered with Shaw on the Univision poll, said the Latinos supporting Trump are drawn to him mostly on economic grounds. “To those who are voting for Trump, they remember that in 2016-’17-‘18 the economy worked better,” he said. “You and I can disagree with them on whether or not that is true. But that’s what they remember.”….Ruy Teixeira, a longtime Democratic electoral analyst who has become an unflinching critic of the party’s policies on social issues, has noted, for instance, that most Latinos agree with statements asserting the US is the greatest country in the world and reject the idea that racism is embedded in American institutions. “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Democrats’ emphasis on social and democracy issues, while catnip to some socially liberal, educated voters, leaves many working-class and Hispanic voters cold,” writes Teixeira, co-author of the recent book, “Where Have All The Democrats Gone?,” which makes similar arguments as Ruffini.

“Yet as polling by the Public Religion Research Institute, Univision and other groups show,” Brownstein notes,  “on many of the actual cultural policies dominating political debate, most minority voters – including most of those without a college degree – align with Democrats, not Republicans. Among non-White voters without a college degree, 57% support legal abortion, 55% back same sex-marriage, and 64% oppose placing barriers at the US border to deter migrants, according to unpublished results from the PRRI’s latest national American Values Survey provided to CNN. (Support for Democratic positions is even greater among non-White voters with a college degree, PRRI found.) Other surveys have found preponderant support among minorities for banning assault weapons and lopsided opposition to ending birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants, as Trump and other GOP candidates have proposed….Maybe most significantly, in PRRI polling, about three-fifths of non-White voters without a college degree agree the GOP has been “taken over by racists,” as do nearly two-thirds of non-White voters with a degree. By contrast, three-fifths of White voters without a college degree reject that idea….Latinos in the key states may not yet be aware of Trump’s immigration plans. But Robert P. Jones, president and founder of PRRI, said the group’s polling convinces him that Trump’s agenda on immigration and other cultural issues will ultimately repel some Latino voters otherwise disenchanted with Biden on the economy. “I think we will not know the truth about how much they [Republicans] are overplaying their hand until next summer” if Trump becomes the GOP nominee, Jones said….Some expressions of cultural liberalism – such as the fleeting calls in 2020 to “defund the police” – have clearly rankled working-class minority voters. But Biden never endorsed that idea. And his clearest path to recovering with those voters may be to convince them that the Republican agenda on immigration and other cultural issues threatens their interests and values. Rather than driving further movement toward the GOP among minority voters, in other words, issues such as abortion or immigration may be Biden’s best hope of preventing slippage with those voters.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    A key difference now is that there is a mess in Democrats’ handling of immigrant in their cities and states due to GOP moving people.

    Of the 3 questions of “57% support legal abortion, 55% back same sex-marriage, and 64% oppose placing barriers at the US border to deter migrants” only abortion is actually on the ballot (somewhat). Biden is building barriers and same sex marriage seems mostly settled.


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