Friday, August 3, 2018

Democrats, the South and the White Vote

Democrats have to do better in the south than they have been doing. That matters not just for 2018 but for 2020 and beyond. But can they do it? Ron Brownstein has a great piece up on CNN that breaks down the components of this challenge. In particular, he takes aim at the default "changing demographics" strategy embraced by many Democrats:
"Most discussion on whether Democrats can restore their tattered competitiveness in the big Southern states has focused on whether the party can increase turnout among those minority voters, who are rising as a share of the population in many Southern states. Registering and turning out more African-Americans, Latinos and other non-white voters undeniably represents an essential part of the equation for Democrats across the region, strategists in both parties agree. Abrams, in particular, has staked her campaign in Georgia largely on spurring greater turnout among minority and young voters who don't usually participate in midterm elections.
But in virtually every state in which Democrats have grown more competitive since the early 1990s, increased minority participation has been only part of the equation -- it has been necessary, but not sufficient. Whether in California, Illinois and New Jersey, which tilted toward Democrats in the 1990s, or Colorado, Virginia and (more equivocally) North Carolina, where the party strengthened its position in the 2000s, the winning Democratic formula has combined both an increase in minority participation and improved performance among college-educated white voters....
"The idea that changing demographics alone are going to carry Democrats through, particularly in a deep South state, is fanciful," says Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who has polled extensively across the South. "Changing demographics make it easier for them if they run a good campaign that appeals to whites as well."
This is absolutely correct. The numbers don't lie. "Necessary but not sufficient" as Brownstein puts it is the right way to think about mobilizing the minority vote in the south. See my recently posted analysis of Georgia for some hard numbers about how much better the Democratic Party will likely have to do among whites.
About this article
CNN.COM
One key measure of any Democratic wave in the midterm elections will be whether it crests high enough to overcome the formidable Republican defenses in the growing suburbs across the South. The answer will have implications that extend far beyond 2018.

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