White Working Class Voters Bail On Democrats. Smart People Wonder Why?

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Every election begets postmortems and Monday morning quarterbacking. When an election has results as stunning at that of 2014, many navels are examined… some of them from the rear. At the New Republic, Noam Schreiber makes his contribution in The Big Question Democrats Need to Ask Themselves Before They Nominate Hillary:

So Democrats need to find a way to appeal to an older, whiter electorate as well. Specifically, they need to find a better way to appeal to the white working class, which is where they’re getting clobbered. In last week’s midterms, whites without a college degree accounted for 36 percent of voters; Democrats lost them by a 30-point margin. In 2012, the margin was 26 points.

At first blush, the white working class would appear to pose a real dilemma. The set of issues on which the Democratic Party is most coherent these days is social progressivism. It’s very difficult to find a Democratic politician that doesn’t support immigration reform, LGBT rights, women’s reproductive rights, affirmative action, steps to reduce climate change, etc. (It’s even more difficult after last Tuesday’s election.) But while these issues unite college-educated voters and working-class minority voters, they’ve historically alienated the white working class.

If you’ve been around for a while you’ve heard different permutations of this. Reagan Democrats were white working class voters who had historically voted with the New Deal politicians of the Democrat party but felt so alienated by the post-McGovern Democrat party that they bolted. They resurfaced again in 1994, this time they were Angry White Males who, allegedly, voted for the GOP because they were angry about their whole white patriarchy racket being ruined by women and minorities. This is not new. It was well documented in 2012.

It was the subject of the book, probably on every liberal’s bookshelf right beside Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-first Century,” called “What’s the Matter With Kansas.” What Schreiber is reacting to is the fact that the 30 point blowout in favor of the GOP has migrated from areas that the Democrats have written off to areas that are critical if they are to elect a president.

At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum, posits an answer to the problem of why white working class voters have abandoned the Democrats:

I’d like to offer a different interpretation. I don’t have a bunch of poll data readily at hand to back this up, so it’s possible I’m …read more    

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