The upstairs/downstairs Democratic coalition leaves out a lot of people in the middle of the stairs.
“The Democrats have committed political malpractice,” says Morley Winograd, a longtime party activist and a former top aide to Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton years. “They have not discussed the economy and have no real program. They are offering the middle class nothing.”
Winograd believes that the depth of white middle- and working-class angst threatens the bold predictions in recent years about an “emerging Democratic majority” based on women, millennials, minorities and professionals. Non-college educated voters broke heavily for the GOP, according to the exit polling, including some 62% of white non-college voters. This reflects a growing trend: 20 years ago districts with white, working-class majorities tilted slightly Democratic; before the election they favored the GOP by a 5 to 1 margin, and several of the last white, Democratic congressional holdovers from the South, notably West Virginia’s Nick Rahall and Georgia’s John Barrow, went down to defeat Tuesday night.
Perhaps the biggest attrition for the Democrats has been among middle-class voters employed in the private sector, particularly small property and business owners. In the 1980s and 1990s, middle- and working-class people benefited from economic expansions, garnering about half the gains; in the current recovery almost all benefits have gone to the top one percent, particularly the wealthiest sliver of that rarified group.Nate Cohn writes at The New York Times:
For decades, Southern Democrats could count on winning local and statewide offices, even though the voters in their states would often withhold support for the Democrat in presidential races. No longer.
Despite efforts to distance themselves from President Obama, none of the Democratic Senate candidates in the South outdid his 2012 results on Tuesday. Democrats lost Senate races, sometimes by wide margins, in Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina, most of which were thought to be competitive for much of the year. They nearly lost in Virginia, where they were thought to be heavy favorites and where The New York Times has not yet projected a winner.
The inability of Southern Democrats to run well ahead of a deeply unpopular Mr. Obama raises questions about how an increasingly urban and culturally liberal national Democratic Party can compete in the staunchly conservative South. It raises serious doubts about whether a future Democratic presidential candidate, like Hillary Clinton, can count on faring better among Southern white voters than President Obama, as many political analysts have assumed she might.