Still reeling from Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton, Democrats are fixated on winning back working-class white voters. But should they?
Democrats spent $1.8 billion, collectively, in 2016. That includes the committees that support their House and Senate candidates, as well as the allied outside groups and organizations in that effort.
A new opinion piece in the New York Times notes, however, that the effectiveness of that staggering amount of money “was undermined by a strategic error.”
The Democratic Party’s fixation on pursuing those who voted for Mr. Trump is a fool’s errand because it’s trying to fix the wrong problem. Although some Democratic voters (in particular, white working-class voters in Rust Belt states) probably did swing to the Republicans, the bigger problem was the large number of what I call “Obama-Johnstein” voters — people who supported Mr. Obama in 2012 but then voted for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, or Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, last year (according to the exit polls, 43 percent of them were nonwhite).
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) launched a “unity tour” (that was a total disaster—more on that here) that focused almost entirely on white working-class voters who defected to Trump.
Meanwhile, little to no attention was paid to the group that made up 24 percent of President Obama’s winning coalition: African-American voters. Since their sound defeat in November, Democrats have only made the problem worse by redoubling their efforts to win over white working-class voters:
In spring 2016, when the progressive independent expenditure groups first outlined their plans for $200 million in spending, they did not allocate any money at all for mobilizing black voters (some money was slotted for radio and digital advertising aimed at blacks, but none for hiring human beings to get out the vote).
African-American leaders have criticized DNC Chair Tom Perez for ignoring black voters for months. Still, the question remains: will he and the rest of the party do anything to fix that problem before the 2018 midterms?
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