The Democrats have taken identity politics a step too far. Somehow, their message has gone from lunch-bucket concerns to a date with Girls. In the face of record low workforce participation, the Democrats have paid a high price for making the unholy trinity of Lena Dunham, Al Sharpton, and billionaire climate-change crusader Tom Steyer the face of their party.
According to the exit polls, 60 percent of white working-class voters went Republican, the same as in 2010, while a record 64 percent of white men did the same. Sometimes, jobs and paychecks come out ahead of self-actualization.
Still, it wasn’t just the usual suspects who were turned off by the Democrats slicing and dicing the electorate. Core Democratic constituencies also had enough of what the President was selling. In a marked reversal from past elections, a majority of Asian-Americans went Republican, as did a third of Latino voters. But it was more than simply ethnic blocs; it was also about deep blue states saying please don’t tell us that what you’ve put on our plates is chicken salad.At The New York Times, David Leonhardt writes:
We’re living through the great wage slowdown of the 21st century, and nothing presents a larger threat to the Democrats’ electoral fortunes than that slowdown.
The Democratic Party fashions itself as the defender of working families, and low- and middle-income voters are indeed more favorably disposed to Democrats than to Republicans. Those voters have helped the party win the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. But if Democrats can’t deliver rising living standards, many voters aren’t going to remain loyal. They’ll skip voting or give a chance to Republicans who offer an alternative, even a vague alternative.At The New York Times, Thomas Edsall points to Obamacare (Fred Lynch):
Obamacare shifts health care benefits and tax burdens from upper-income Americans to lower-income Americans, and from largely white constituencies to beneficiaries disproportionately made up of racial and ethnic minorities. The program increases levies on the overwhelmingly white affluent by raising taxes on households making more than $250,000.
To achieve its goals, Obamacare reduces by $500 million, over 10 years, spending on Medicare, according to the Medicare board of trustees, which oversees the finances of the program. Medicare serves a population that is 77 percent white. Even as reductions in Medicare spending fall disproportionately on white voters, the savings are being used to finance Obamacare, which includes a substantial expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid recipients are overwhelmingly poor and, in 2013, were 41 percent white and 59 percent minority.
In addition to expanding Medicaid, the overall goal of Obamacare is to provide health coverage for the uninsured, a population that, in 2010 when the program was enacted, was 47 percent white, and 53 percent black, Hispanic, Asian-American and other minorities.
It’s not hard to see, then, why a majority of white midterm voters withheld support from Democrats and cast their votes for Republicans.