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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ten Problems for Democrats

Doug Sosnik, who served as President Clinton's political director, identifies ten long-term problems for Democrats:

 1) Obama’s Personal Favorability Doesn’t Translate to Democrats Broadly: The nature of Obama’s strength is personal and is not easily transferable to other candidates in the future. 
2) Obama’s Failure to Build the Party for the Long-Term: The President’s lack of commitment to build up the DNC’s structure and base will have lasting consequences for the party. 
3) Declining Favorability: Democrats can’t afford to ignore the party’s declining support among all voters since Obama took office. This decline is in spite of a Republican Party that has been in political free-fall. 
4) 2010 State Losses Created an Enduring Grassroots Deficit: Moving forward, it will be very difficult for the party to fully recover from the devastating losses at the state and local level from 2010 elections. With their success, Republicans controlled the reapportionment and redistricting process in a majority of the states, enabling them to draw very favorable district lines at the state and federal levels, which will benefit them for the rest of this decade. 
5) Declining Democratic Party Self-Identification among Younger Voters: Millennials (born 1981-1994) and Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) have voted overwhelmingly Democratic for the past decade. However, their votes have largely been more about support for Obama and opposition to Republicans than they have been about identifying as Democrats. According to Pew polling from last year, 45% of Millennials self-identify as Independents, which is a six-point jump since 2008, and 31% self-identify as Democrats, which represents a four-point drop since 2008. The same analysis showed that 42% of Gen Exers identify as Independents, an eight-point increase since 2008, and 29% self-identify as Democrats, a five-point decline in Democratic self-identification during the same time.
6) Democrats Should Not Count on Same Levels of African American Turnout and Support without Obama on the Ballot: According to a Census Bureau report on the 2012 elections issued this week, for the first time in history black eligible voters turned out at a higher percentage than whites (66% v. 64%). In addition, a Gallup analysis of the African American vote found that 18-34 year olds are nine-points less likely to self-identify as Democrats (75% v. 84%) than African American voters 55 years or older. 
7) Declining Democratic ID among Younger Hispanic Americans: Although Hispanics have overwhelmingly voted against Republicans since George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, younger Hispanics feel less of an allegiance to the Democratic Party than their elders. A Gallup analysis of last year’s tracking polling found that Hispanic voters aged 18-34 are nine points less likely to self-identify as Democrats (50% v. 59%) than Hispanic voters 55 years or older. Young Hispanic voters are a disproportionately large share of the Hispanic electorate. 
8) Asian American Support for Democrats in Recent Elections Exceeds Their Party Identification: Despite voting overwhelmingly for Obama in the past two elections - with their support topping 73% in 2012 – a 2012 Pew poll found that only 50% of Asian voters self-identify as Democrats. 
9) Midterm Turnout Favors Republicans: Historically, the voters who are most likely to vote Democratic are the least likely to vote in a midterm election. 
10) Thin Presidential Bench beyond Hillary Clinton and Uncertainty that Democrats can Replicate Obama Turnout Levels: While Clinton laps the field against any and all contenders, the election is still over three years away. If she doesn’t run, there is not an obvious and ready pool of candidates to step in and fill the void. Furthermore, without Obama on the ballot, it is far from certain that the Democrats will be able to generate the same high levels of voter turnout that proved decisive in the last two Presidential elections.