Democrats Have a Problem With the Working Class

From the Washington Post:

In the heavily Hispanic South Bronx, the liberal sanctum of San Francisco and the immigrant-rich neighborhoods of Miami, President Trump also shrank Democratic margins by drawing thousands more to his side….Party strategists now speak privately with a sense of gloom and publicly with a tone of concern as the election results become clearer. They worry about the potential emergence of a mostly male and increasingly interracial working-class coalition for Republicans that will cut into the demographic advantages Democrats had long counted on.

And the New York Times:

Across the United States, many areas with large populations of Latinos and residents of Asian descent, including ones with the highest numbers of immigrants, had something in common this election: a surge in turnout and a shift to the right, often a sizable one. The pattern was evident in big cities like Chicago and New York, in California and Florida, and along the Texas border with Mexico, according to a New York Times analysis of voting in 28,000 precincts in more than 20 cities.

This has already congealed into conventional wisdom: Democrats are in trouble because their gains among the college educated aren’t enough to match their losses among both the white and Latino working class. A map provides some insight into this problem:

Democrats do fine in areas with lots of college-educated residents: the west coast, New England, the mid-Atlantic down to Virginia, and bits and pieces of the mountain west. But that’s about it. The upper midwest, which has a middling number of college grads, is up for grabs.

In recent years education has turned out to be the single biggest predictor of voting intentions, and this is not great news for Democrats for obvious reasons:

If education is the playing field, then Democrats own only about one-third of it. The rest is Republican territory. This doesn’t mean Democrats can never win in areas with a small number of college grads, but it does mean that they have to work pretty hard to do it.

To put this more simply, recent evidence suggests that Democrats don’t just have a problem with the white working class anymore, but, increasingly, a problem with the working class, period. Unfortunately, this inevitably brings us around to the tedious—but important—question of whether liberals need to move toward the center on social issues.

Needless to say, the progressive wing of the party is massively resistant to this idea. During the election, my Twitter feed was jam packed with quixotic ideas for expanding the Democratic map: eliminating the Electoral College; admitting Washington DC and Puerto Rico as states; packing the Supreme Court; etc. This is all pie-in-the-sky stuff, a desperate attempt to propose anything other than the obvious: embracing social policies that appeal to more people, especially those without college degrees. That’s Politics 101. I don’t know how this is all going to turn out, but I’ll bet it’s going to be a helluva fight.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate