HORSE RACE: Demography Is No Longer Destiny for Democrats

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The Democratic Party is facing an incredibly pressing issue ahead of 2024, but it's an issue they appear to be ignoring at the moment. They do not seem to realize that the identity politics of race are no longer working for them, and that their increasingly extreme rhetoric is causing issues among voters who typically sided with them over Republicans.

Simply put: Demography is no longer destiny.

My colleague Nick Arama hit on something extremely important this morning in noting this Fox News segment focusing on a black voter in the United States.

That voter expressed incredible outrage at the idea that America could enter a war at any moment, and it's very likely President Joe Biden could be asleep at the wheel. "And I think if we were to go to a war, I'm prime age to be drafted," Jahmiel Jackson, a Democratic voter, told Fox News. "And I don't want him to check his watch while they're burying me."

Biden seems, at best, checked out at times. The worst-case scenario (and the scenario that most voters feel is likely) is that he's just incapable of mentally being all there at his age. The age question is a big problem for the Democrats, who are struggling with the fact that voters are scared of a second Joe Biden term, but absolutely don't want Kamala Harris anywhere near the throne of America.

But the party's problems go much deeper than whether or not Joe Biden should step down. The demographics of party support are no longer so cleanly split into the familiar breakdowns. There are noticeable shifts in the demographic breakdown of recent polls, and voter turnout in recent elections all but spells "DOOM!" for Democrats if they don't right the ship.

Earlier in September, the New York Times' Nate Cohn delivered a devastating breakdown that should have Democrats in a panic.

On average, Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump by just 53 percent to 28 percent among registered nonwhite voters in a compilation of Times/Siena polls from 2022 and 2023, which includes over 1,500 nonwhite respondents.

The results represent a marked deterioration in Mr. Biden’s support compared with 2020, when he won more than 70 percent of nonwhite voters. If he’s unable to revitalize this support by next November, it will continue a decade-long trend of declining Democratic strength among voters considered to be the foundation of the party.

The point to emphasize, before we go on, is the word "just" in front of "53 percent" up there. That represents a significant drop for a Democrat, as Biden's party has, in the past, enjoyed much higher nonwhite support.

The Times/Siena data suggests the emergence of a fairly clear education gap among nonwhite voters, as Mr. Biden loses ground among less affluent nonwhite voters and those without a degree. Overall, he retains a 61-23 lead among nonwhite college graduates, compared with a mere 49-31 lead among those without a four-year degree.

If the gap persists until the election, it will raise the possibility that the political realignment unleashed by Mr. Trump’s brand of conservative populism has spread to erode the political loyalties of working-class voters, of all races, who were drawn to the Democrats by material interests in an earlier era of politics.

Mr. Biden’s weakness among nonwhite voters is broad, spanning virtually every demographic category and racial group, including a 72-11 lead among Black voters and a 47-35 lead among Hispanic registrants. The sample of Asian voters is not large enough to report, though nonwhite voters who aren’t Black or Hispanic — whether Asian, Native American, multiracial or something else — back Mr. Biden by just 40-39. In all three cases, Mr. Biden’s tallies are well beneath his standing in the last election.

The education gap gives us our first clue as to what's going on here: 2024 is shaping up to be an election decided by class rather than race or gender.

One would assume that the Democrats, who have for years kept the working class - particularly blue-collar union workers - on their side, still do. But in 2016, the union vote in the Rust Belt split, in a sign of things to come. A large enough chunk of union households split between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which gave him an edge in breaking the "Blue Wall." The numbers have continued shifting in Republicans' favor ever since.

As Democratic analyst Ruy Teixeira pointed out recently regarding a Fox News poll, "two-thirds of nonwhite voters rated their personal financial situation as only fair or poor and barely over a quarter (27 percent) said the Biden administration had made the economy better, compared to 42 percent who thought Biden had made the economy worse."

His breakdown of other recent polls points out some other real flaws the Democrats are facing.

A May Washington Post/ABC News poll asked, “Who do you think did a better job handling the economy (Donald Trump when he was president), or (Joe Biden during his presidency so far)?” Nonwhite respondents felt, by 48 to 41 percent, that Trump had done a better job on the economy than Biden is currently doing.

In a recent 6,000 respondent survey conducted by AEI’s Survey Center on American Life (SCAL) and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), 57 percent of nonwhite voters say Biden has accomplished not that much or little or nothing during his time in office. About half consider the Democratic Party too extreme, think it bases its decisions more on politics than common sense and supports policies that interfere too much in people’s lives. Over two-fifths don’t see the Democrats as sharing their values. And over a third think Democrats look down on people like them, don’t value hard work and aren’t patriotic.

For decades, Democrats have maintained the idea that "demography is destiny" and have adjusted their politics accordingly. But they have perhaps gone too far down the demographic rabbit hole in their latest push on the transgender issue. Most voters are fairly open to some LGBT issues - like gay marriage and acceptance of trans identity. However, where most folks draw the line is the push prevalent among Democrats that children must be exposed to the trans lifestyle.

The push for children to be exposed to highly sexualized drag shows, for girls to have to endure the shock and shame of seeing penises in their locker rooms, for families to have to tolerate pornographic materials in their elementary students' school libraries is simply too much. Trans identity is still such a small percentage of the American population that Democrats are catering to, that it's rubbing nonwhite voters the wrong way.

Consider that black and Hispanic voters are deeply religious, for starters. That issue simply pushes them away and makes them angry.

And the Democrats' refusal to address illegal immigration further erodes Hispanic voters' faith in the Democratic Party. Hispanic voters whose families got here legally abhor the people making a mockery of the system - both the illegal immigrants and the Democratic politicians allowing it to happen with no sense of urgency to stop it. These are working-class voters who will view illegal immigrants coming in as a threat to their livelihoods. 

The Democrats are approaching these issues with blinders on, and they do so at the risk of yet another bad election cycle.


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