In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Democrats’ emphasis on social and democracy issues, while catnip to some socially liberal, educated voters, leaves many working class and Hispanic voters cold. Their concerns are more mundane and economically-driven. This is despite the fact that many of these voters are in favor of moderate abortion rights and gun control and disapprove of the January 6th events. But these issues are just not salient for them in the way they are for the Democrats’ educated and most fervent supporters....
Strong progressives clearly live in a different world than Hispanic and working class voters. In strong progressive world, views on abortion, gun control and January 6th fit neatly into an overarching set of sociocultural beliefs that are highly salient to them and increasingly drive the Democratic party’s priorities and rhetoric. Hispanic and working class voters lack this overarching set of beliefs—in fact, don’t share many of them—and are much more concerned with the basics of their material lives. It should thus be no surprise that these voters are increasingly losing interest in the party of abortion, gun control and January 6th. As Josh Kraushaar notes:
- Democrats are becoming the party of upscale voters concerned more about issues like gun control and abortion rights.
- Republicans are quietly building a multiracial coalition of working-class voters, with inflation as an accelerant.
Exaggerated? Maybe. But consider this: between the 2012 and 2020 elections—which Democrats won by similar popular vote margins—Democrats’ advantage among nonwhite working class voters decreased by 19 margin points (Catalist data). Over the same period, Democrats’ performance among white college-educated voters improved by 16 margin points. So perhaps we’re just on trend
Hispanic Americans also tend to possess strong religious values. In October 2020 the New York Times’s Jennifer Medina published a prescient report highlighting Trump-supporting Hispanic Evangelicals. Called “Latino, Evangelical, and Politically Homeless,” it featured this insightful sentence: “Hispanic evangelicals identify as religious first and foremost.”
Yes. Absolutely. That’s exactly why a politics focused on mobilizing by race/ethnicity will not reach them, especially when identity politics is paired with hard-left cultural positions and hostility for traditional religion. Hispanic voters will find a religious connection with many, many white Republicans, and that religious connection can prove far more culturally and politically consequential than any effort to create a politics based on ethnic or racial identity.
The disproportionate secularization of white Democrats represents a danger for the Democratic Party, for the country, and for American religion. The danger for the Democrats is clear. America may be more secular than it’s been in generations, but it is still a quite religious country. It’s far more religious than any European nation. It’s far more religious than Canada or the rest of the anglosphere nations. And it’s going to remain extraordinarily religious for the foreseeable future.
A party that’s culturally disconnected from (or perhaps even scornful of) traditional religious faith is going to alienate itself from tens of millions of voters it could otherwise reach.