Another Op-Ed Says The Path Back For Dems Goes Through The South And Southwest

Steve Phillips has an op-ed in the NY Times today that again makes the point that Democrats do not need to go on an “ill-fated quest” to win over the disgruntled white working class in the Midwest. Rather, the party should continue its move to the left and focus its efforts “on the ample opportunities in the Southwest and the South”.

In a shameless plug, I will say that this nicely dovetails with a post that I put up last week that made a similar point. Phillips points out that the reason for Hillary Clinton’s loss in the last election was not so much because Obama voters flipped to Trump but that Obama voters went to a third party, either Johnson or Stein. According to Phillips, “That is the white flight that should most concern the next D.N.C. chairman, because those voters make up a more promising way to reclaim the White House. The way to win them back is by being more progressive, not less.”

In Michigan and Wisconsin, Trump only added about 175,000 votes to Mitt Romney’s total. But the third party candidates added around 300,000 votes in those two states, compared to the just under 400,000 fewer votes that Hillary received as compared to Obama. The problem was not so much that Hillary lost votes to Trump; it was that Hillary lost votes to Stein and Johnson. That problem will not be fixed by becoming Republican-lite.

Phillips additionally points out that the minority share of the electorate is growing while the white share shrinks, saying, “Nearly half of all Democratic votes (46 percent) were not white in 2016, and over the next four years, 10 million more people of color will be added to the population, as compared with just 1.5 million whites.” He summarizes, “The path to victory involves reinspiring those whites who drifted to third-party candidates and then focusing on the ample opportunities in the Southwest and the South. Mrs. Clinton came closer to winning Texas than she did Iowa. She fared better in Arizona, Georgia and Florida than she did in the traditional battleground state of Ohio. The electoral action for Democrats may have once been in the Rust Belt, but it’s now moving west and south.”

Matt Yglesias has a pinned post on twitter that says, “Trump got 46% of the vote — a smaller share than Romney — it’s not literally necessary to convert any of those voters to win.” That is entirely true. It would be helpful to bring back those Democratic voters who defected to third parties. But more importantly, Democrats need to focus on states like Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina, states that are growing in total population and in minority population. That is the real path to a Democratic resurgence.

[I’ve also written about this and other issues on my personal blog at]

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