While we’ve yet to see any semblance of a deep, personal reflection on why the Democratic Party was soundly defeated this year, we do have some idea as to what they think the future holds for them, and it’s about as predictable as them playing the victim is a loss of this calibur. Via Wired:
The country is currently in the midst of what Taylor calls a “racial makeover.” Latinos accounted for more than half the country’s population growth between 2000 and 2014, according to Pew Research. This demographic shift is having far-reaching effects on voting patterns. Since 2012, the country’s white voting-age population, which tends to vote Republican, has proportionally grown the least among major groups. The Hispanic voting-age population, which tends to vote Democratic, has expanded the most.
The assumption here is based on past voting trends of Latino voters. But, if the influx of Latinos is changing voting patterns, clearly that change is away from Democrats, who lost soundly in 2016 and saw not only no gain among Latinos but actually lost ground at the presidential level. This means that they cannot simply blame an aging and (proportionally) shrinking white share of the vote for their losses. Actual, young, Latino voters went for the Republicans. It’s lazy, not to mention wishful, to blame it all on a population that they are openly and actively waiting to die off.
There are a multitude of reasons for this, but a lot of it comes down to what we know of Hispanic culture: they are more deeply spiritual than the white liberal, and many Hispanic voters also resent the illegal immigrants who are cheating the system they worked hard to work through.
To the former point, Hispanic culture is largely rooted in Catholicism, a faith which rejects the ideas of gay marriage abortion rights. As well, it neither believes in nor wants men to use women’s restrooms simply because they claim to be transgender (a similar argument can be made with regard to black culture, which is also deeply rooted in Christian spirituality – Donald Trump did get a greater share of the black vote than Mitt Romney did four years ago).
To the latter point, the Democrats have long seen the Hispanic vote as the next black vote – dedicated almost exclusively to them. Therefore, allowing more potential Hispanic voters in and giving them the ability to vote drives a lot of their immigration beliefs. However, in doing so, they earn the scorn of the Hispanic families who, within the last few generations, fought like hell to become legal citizens. Their hard work seems worthless when the system can just as easily be ignored with no punishment. Playing fast and loose with the system for political benefit can backfire on the Democrats.
Another demographic point from Wired:
It wasn’t just minority voters the Republican party saw it had to please back in 2012, however. Millennial voters have now surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation. “If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out,” the report said.
This, while a little more possible than the idea of more Latinos equaling more Democratic votes, still assumes a lot about millennials, and many of those assumptions are put to the test in a study that CNN wrote about back in September.
Additionally, millennials are more likely to identify as conservative than either Generation Xers or Baby Boomers were at the same age, said Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and lead author of the paper.
“High school seniors are more likely to identify as political conservatives now compared to 10 years ago. Most surprising, more identify as conservatives now compared to the 1980s, presumably the era of the young conservative, such as the character Alex P. Keaton in the 1980s show ‘Family Ties.’ That goes against the common view of millennials as very liberal,” said Twenge, author of the book about millennials titled “Generation Me.”
“So the current view of millennials as liberals might be due to their age — young people are more likely to be liberal. But if you compare young people now to young people in previous decades, those now are more conservative,” she said.
It is difficult to say which piece, Wired or CNN, has the right answer, but the latter does mean that Democrats should not generalize who they do and do not have in their pockets when it comes time to vote*. What we do know is that Barack Obama played the demographic game in 2008 and won, and then again in 2012. However, in 2010, 2014, and 2016, the Democrats simply could not make it work in their favor. It isn’t a given anymore.
Using demographics to say you have the advantage is the equivalent of saying “We don’t need to have ideas.” Which they don’t. They are running on largely the same platforms they’ve been running on for decades, and the act is wearing thin. If and when they do release an autopsy of 2016, if they don’t recognize this, then they cannot begin to recover until at least 2020.
*As an aside: I can say that, as a teacher, a lot of students 18 and under deeply resent Democrats (specifically Michelle Obama) for the changes to school lunch menus. And rightfully so. Most of it is terrible.