Sunday, November 5, 2017

Which Way for the Democrats?

Dan Balz has a good piece in the Washington Post that leans heavily on the recent Griffin/Halpin/Teixeira CAP report in posing this question:
At a minimum, the unfolding [Brazile] controversy among Democrats is a distraction they don’t need right now. But it could reflect deeper differences inside a party that can’t shake off 2016 and is still searching for a comeback strategy that goes beyond being anti-Trump.
That question hinges in part on which voters are seen as most important to the party’s coalition: African Americans and other minorities or the white working class. A new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive think tank, offers fresh analysis of 2016 that tries to answer that question. The authors, Rob Griffin, Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, plumbed available resources to produce the analysis, one that they say provides a more accurate portrait of the electorate than did the exit polls. The study does not attempt to evaluate the impact of Russian hacking on the campaign.
Among the conclusions is the electorate on Election Day 2016 included a higher percentage of white voters than the exit polls said at the time.
More significant, the composition of those white voters was strikingly at odds with the exit poll estimates.
“Briefly put, the exit polls radically overestimated the share of white college-educated voters and radically underestimated the share of white non-college-educated voters,” the authors write.
Exit polls said white college-educated voters made up 37 percent of the electorate, while white non-college-educated voters constituted 34 percent.
The CAP analysis says whites with college educations accounted for 29 percent of the electorate while whites without college educations made up 45 percent. A post-election online poll by SurveyMonkey reached a similar conclusion.
The report looks at the national electorate as well as those in some of the key states that decided the election, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, the three Rust Belt states that sealed Trump’s victory.
After assessing how shifts in support and levels of turnout affected the most crucial states, the authors made other calculations and argue that Clinton would have won the election if either of two things had occurred. She would have won if black turnout and support levels had been identical to those of 2012 or if white non-college-educated voters’ support had been similar to that of 2012.
Neither course was as easy as it might have seemed, however.
The authors note that any Democrat would have had difficulty re-creating black turnout and support levels of 2012, given the election involved the first African American elected to the White House.
Anyone following would have struggled to generate both the turnout and support levels of those campaigns.
Nor do the authors underestimate the difficulty of retaining the 2012 levels of support among white non-college-educated voters, given shifting allegiances among that group that have been ongoing.
But the authors argue that even a modest improvement in her performance in 2016 would have allowed Clinton to win the three Rust Belt states.
Trump will be vulnerable in 2020, but Democrats still must better learn the lessons from Clinton’s defeat. To appeal to the full range of voters they need to win, the authors argue, Democrats must “go beyond the ‘identity politics’ versus ‘economic populism’ debate to create a genuine cross-racial, cross-class coalition.” Is there a leading Democrat out there who has cracked that code yet?
That about sums it up, right? 

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