Monday, June 14, 2021

Are the Democrats Misreading Nonwhite Voters?

I'd say so. The root of it is a failure to recognize the intrinsic moderation of most nonwhite voters on social and cultural issues,, even if they are supportive of the Democrats' general approach on economic issues. In the New York Democratic primary mayoral race, dominated by nonwhite voters, the latest polls have the black, but moderate, candidate Eric Adams dominating the field The leftwing but cleareyed New York political analyst Ross Barkan notes: "Rising in the polls, Adams appears to be gaining great traction with Black voters and winning over more moderate whites in the outer boroughs, particularly older voters worried about rising crime." The Marist poll data below show Adams dominating among nonwhite voters, noncollege voters, voters over 45 and voters outside of Manhattan.
Zaid Jilani astutely comments on these developments in an article on Persuasion:
"Adams is a former police officer who has derided calls to defund police services. “There are a lot of young white affluent people who are coming in and setting the conversation,” he complained in an interview this spring about the origins of anti-police sentiment.
He argued that defunding police would necessarily result in a smaller police presence. “When you start defunding, hey, the cop is no longer on your corner,” he said. “That cop is no longer in your lobby. That cop is not standing outside when you leave your Broadway play. And I have never been to an event where the people were saying we want less cops. Never.”
Generally speaking, Adams correctly summarizes Americans’ preferences. Polling shows that Americans across the board want police to spend the same amount of time in their areas or spend even more time. Blacks and Hispanics are no exception, with around 80% of them agreeing with that sentiment even as confidence in individual encounters with police remains lower in minority communities....
Progressives, who tend to take their cues on politics from social media and activists, may argue that Adams and Yang are simply out of touch. Surely a progressive city like New York isn’t crying out to get tough on crime.
But the polling suggests it’s the single most important issue for a plurality of voters there. Forty-six percent of likely voters say that addressing crime and public safety should be a top priority for the next mayor; 33% of likely voters say they think Adams would handle the issue best, with Yang coming in second.
If you look at what’s been happening in the city over the past year, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Murders went up around 40% from 2019 to 2020, with shootings in particular skyrocketing. If anyone’s confused as to why Democratic voters in New York who are members of minority groups might be particularly skeptical of left-wing calls to reduce policing, they should look at the distribution of violence.
Because of the concentration of crime, the people who live in predominantly minority neighborhoods often bear the brunt of surges in violent crime. In 2020, 73.9% of the city’s recorded shooting victims were black, and 22.5% were Hispanic.....
Although New York politics is obviously sui generis, the moderate and pragmatic streaks in the city’s minority voters are in many ways reflected in the national Democratic Party. It was black voters in the South, after all, who effectively ended Bernie Sanders’s two presidential bids.
Although there are limits to what self-identification can tell you about someone’s politics, it’s worth mentioning that only around 29% of black Democrats and 37% of Hispanic Democrats identify as liberal. Meanwhile, 55% of white Democrats identify with the label.
Research by Eric Kaufmann and others has shown that white liberals have in recent years become even more left-wing on social and cultural issues than non-white Democrats, part of the so-called “Great Awokening.”
The civil society group More In Common demonstrates that these divides go beyond issue positions and can be found in social attitudes as well. Just 34% of progressive activists—the 8% of Americans who are both ideologically left-wing and outspoken in their political activism—say they are “proud to be American.” In comparison, 62% of Asians, 70% of blacks, and 76% of Hispanics agree with that statement."
Jilani's point above about the moderate and pragmatic streak of nonwhite voters not just in New York but nationwide is well-taken. A recent report by three Democratic groups, Third Way, Collective PAC and Latino Victory Fund, based on extensive analysis of data from the 2020 election, underscores this point, as it describes Democratic misreads of the nonwhite electorate in 2020. Based on the report, Josh Kraushaar of National Journal provides a pointed assessment of the challenges facing the Democrats among nonwhite voters:
"The report, which documents Republican gains with nonwhite voters in numerous battleground races featuring diverse constituencies, should be a wake-up call to party leadership. Far too often, party officials have taken their cues on communicating with minority groups from activist organizations claiming to represent their interests....
“Folks who purport to speak for the vast communities of color across the country are speaking for one portion of them, usually highly educated urban elites or super-online activists. Those people don’t necessarily represent the views of Latino men who work in the oil fields, for instance,” Third Way senior vice president Lanae Erickson, who worked on the report, told National Journal. “What we have done is conflate urban white liberal views with the views of people of color—and allowed them to speak for those people of color.”
The report lays bare the biggest political challenge for Democrats heading into next year’s midterms—and beyond. Their coalition is more diverse and is home to more moderates than the GOP, which has grown increasingly dogmatic. On paper, it’s a lot easier to move to the middle when the Republican Party has ceded that ground. But they’re being held captive by a network of progressive activists and donors who demand ideological fealty on policy positions that are politically toxic to middle-of-the-road voters of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
The report blames Democratic organizations for treating nonwhite voters as a unified bloc that just needs to be mobilized for the party to benefit. The reality is there are plenty of persuadable voters of all backgrounds who don’t appreciate being treated like a like-minded monolith.....“Our assumptions about Democratic support among voters of color and the lack of differentiation in our messaging and outreach within demographic groups cost us support in key races,” the report concluded.....
[Democrats have] succeeded in recruiting candidates who represent the racial diversity of America, but too often their political views are ideologically homogeneous. Their nominees in competitive, conservative-minded parts of the country, from suburban Dallas to Miami, should have been challenging the progressive activists in their party, not indulging them.....
[T]he political sweet spot for the party [is]recruiting a diverse pool of candidates who can excite voters but also appeal to the vast swath of voters in the center. It’s a necessity not just to hold on to suburban moderates but to maintain the margins with traditionally Democratic voters of color, as well.
“The drop-off with nonwhite voters was a lot more than I expected. We have got to fundamentally change how we do outreach,” said one African American Democratic strategist involved in conversations about the party’s long-term strategy. “Otherwise, we’ve got a major long-term problem on our hands. It becomes a huge 2030 problem for us.”
Don't say you haven't been warned.
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