In Defying the Odds
, we explain how economic distress worked against Democrats in 2016. Thomas Edsall writes:
A consistent theme is that the focus on white defections from the Democratic Party masks an even more threatening trend: declining turnout among key elements of the so-called Rising American Electorate — minority, young and single voters. Turnout among African-Americans, for example, fell by 7 points, from 66.6 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent in 2016.
Priorities USA, in surveys and focus groups, studied “drop off voters,” those who lean Democratic but failed to vote in either 2014 or 2016. By and large, these voters were members of the coalition that elected and re-elected Barack Obama:
people of color (41% African-American, Hispanic, or Asian), young (22% under the age of 29), female (60%), and unmarried (46% single, separated, widowed, or divorced).
Priorities found that drop off voters were distinctly lukewarm toward Hillary Clinton:
Just 30% describe themselves as very favorable to Clinton, far lower than the 72% who describe themselves as very favorable to Barack Obama.
Priorities also studied Obama-to-Trump voters. Estimates of the number of such voters range from 6.7 to 9.2 million, far more than enough to provide Trump his Electoral College victory. The counties that switched from Obama to Trump were heavily concentrated in the Midwest and other Rust Belt states.
To say that this constituency does not look favorably on the Democratic Party fails to capture the scope of their disenchantment.
The accompanying chart illustrates this discontent. A solid majority, 77 percent, of Obama-to-Trump voters think Trump’s economic policies will either favor “all groups equally” (44) or the middle class (33). 21 percent said Trump would favor the wealthy.
In contrast, a plurality of these voters, 42 percent, said that Congressional Democrats would favor the wealthy, slightly ahead of Congressional Republicans at 40 percent.