If the Democrats are to get to past the Republican takeover of the Senate, they will need to again start talking about jobs, wages, and upward mobility; get beyond the politics of grievance and identity, and reach out to middle-income voters who are not public employees. That task, however, is easier said than done, with the culture gap underlying both parties’ strategies of capturing an electoral majority.
For the Democrats, George McGovern’s Coalition of the Ascendant has supplanted FDR’s New Deal Coalition. The Democrats have gone from a party of Southern whites, urban ethnics, and minorities to a high-end-low-end amalgam of coastal and cultural elites sitting atop of a minority base, with the former providing the cash that drives campaigns and the latter bloc providing the votes. In the process, the Democrats have become more diverse, but also less tied to middle-income voters. Indeed, a majority of Democratic voters will be minority voters shortly after the next census is taken.
As the 2010 and 2014 midterms showed, the Democrats’ strategy has is limits. Young voters, single women, and minorities may be enough to get a Democrat elected and re-elected as president, but they are an insufficient by themselves to act as an effective governing bloc. The rest of America matters, particularly when the rest of America is expected to pick up the tab for the Democrats’ wish-list.Here is another reason not to bet too much on the Democrats. The current economic expansion has already lasted 66 months, the 6th-longest since 1854 (see this article from March 2014). To ensure a Democratic victory, it will have to last another 23 months.