In Bid to Take House, Dems Should Follow the Sun
There is an awful lot of hand wringing about how the Dems need to win back WWC voters in the Rust Belt. But it seems that if the Dems have a shot in 2018 it will come via not the Rust Belt but the Sun Belt:
There has been no shortage of reports that President Trump is still very popular in the bars and diners of the old industrial towns that decided the 2016 presidential election.
But if you want to meet the voters who will decide the biggest political story of the 2018 congressional elections, you might have to fly right over the blue-collar workers of Youngstown, Ohio, and go talk to the real housewives of Orange County, Calif.
Yes, it’s early. But if we’re already breathlessly checking in on Altoona, Pa., then add the O.C. to the mix.
“Orange County was the heart of Sun Belt conservatism and one of the most reliably Republican bastions of the 20th century. It voted Republican in every presidential election from 1936 until 2016, when it voted for Hillary Clinton by a nine-point margin.”
As we know from the great German philosopher, Hegel, success tends to sanctify all enterprises in retrospect. The temptation is because the Dems were not successful in 2016, this means everything they did was wrong. There is always the tendency to give too much credit when there is success and too much condemnation when there is failure.
But going forward, despite HRC’s EC loss-precipitated by Comey’s wrongful intervention-the HRC playbook may well be the one used by the Democratic party of the future.
In Virginia too, the party is now running candidates in every district with a GOPer won by HRC.
Nate Silver had suggested that HRC’s coalition might be too early in 2016 but ripe in future elections.
Back to Nate Cohn:
“It’s hard to think of a place that was less relevant to Mr. Trump’s fortunes in 2016. Mrs. Clinton’s success in Orange County, and in well-educated and Hispanic areas elsewhere in the Sun Belt, helped her win the popular vote — though there was no payoff in the Electoral College. But it’s districts like these that will decide whether the Democrats can make a serious run at control of the House.”
“There is no guarantee that the Democrats can put the House in play, even if Mr. Trump’s approval ratings remain as low as they are now or slip further. The Republicans have so many safe seats that they could even survive a so-called wave election like the ones that swept Democrats to power in 2006 and out of power in 2010. The Democrats need 24 seats to retake the House.”
“But whether the Democrats can do it will come down to places like Orange County, which is more populous than Iowa. Four congressional districts that have at least some territory in the county still have Republican representatives, and all four were carried by Mrs. Clinton.”
“It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the road to a Democratic House begins and ends at Laguna Beach.”
“Darrell Issa, who represents the California coast from southern Orange County almost to La Jolla, is probably the nation’s most vulnerable incumbent. That’s based on factors that tend to predict which districts are likeliest to be competitive — like the result of his last election (he won by just 1 point) and how the district voted in recent presidential contests.”
“By the same measures, the 24th-most vulnerable Republican is Dana Rohrabacher, whose district is immediately north of Mr. Issa’s — stretching up the Orange County coast from Laguna Beach to Sunset Beach. In between, Ed Royce and Mimi Walters represent the 13th- and 20th-most vulnerable districts.”
“Of course, the exact House battleground will be shaped by a lot more than these few factors. Democratic recruitment and Republican retirements will play a big role, and a competitive race will expose the vulnerability or resilience of individual Republicans to a degree that recent elections have not.”
“But Orange County is not an outlier. Across the nation, the most vulnerable Republican incumbents among the 50 or so most competitive seats tend to be in relatively well-educated, metropolitan districts with above-average Hispanic populations. It’s the opposite of most of the 2016 presidential battleground states, which were whiter, less educated and far less Hispanic than the country as a whole.”
“Mr. Trump might still be riding high in central Pennsylvania steel towns, but there are plenty of signs that his support remains weak in precisely the districts where House Republicans are most vulnerable. The most recent Pew Research poll found that Mr. Trump had just a 38 percent approval rating among white voters with a college degree, with 61 percent disapproving. Mrs. Clinton probably won well-educated white voters by only a narrow margin, so the Pew result seems to imply a weakening in his standing.”
Hillary’s 2016 coalition-of minority voters, urban voters, liberals, and educated white voters-will serve as the prototype going forward.
Educated white voters historically have been GOP going back to 1952. HRC’s narrow win among educated whites was a Democratic first. Some of these voters were old GOPers who needed an excuse to vote GOP-they were wary of Trump but the constant demonization of HRC over the server gave them enough cover.
Comey’s letter cinched that.
But going forward this is what the Dem playbook will look like. The key predictor for Democrats is not wealth but education. It’s not for nothing that Herr Trump says ‘I love the poorly educated.’
P.S. If you enjoy my blog and my support of #TheResistance-I’m also considering a 2018 run against GOP Congressmen Peter King of the NY 2nd district-then please consider a donation.