Trump Is Taking Over Republican Party, Making Realignment More Likely

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Marco Rubio talk during a commercial break in a debate televised by CBS News from Greenville, South Carolina, February 13, 2016
Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Marco Rubio talk during a commercial break in a debate televised by CBS News from Greenville, South Carolina, February 13, 2016 (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Donald Trump is splitting America’s Republican Party in two — and his side is winning.

NBC News and The Wall Street Journal asked Republican voters if they consider themselves to be a supporter of the president first or a supporter of the Republican Party. 58 percent said Trump, 38 percent the party.

The Trump supporters are more likely to hail from rural areas and to be men while Republican Party supporters are more likely to be women and residents of the suburbs.

CNN found a similar divide: Trump’s support is strongest among old white voters without a college education. Republicans under the age of fifty with a degree are disappointed in him.

These trends portend a realignment of America’s two-party system in which the Democrats become the party of the affluent and the optimistic and the Republicans a coalition of the left behind.

Before such a realignment can happen, though, the Republicans need to break up. Read more

Democrats Should Look to the Middle, Not to the Left

Hillary Clinton supporters listen to a speech in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12, 2016
Hillary Clinton supporters listen to a speech in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12, 2016 (Hillary for America/Alyssa S.)

Since last year’s presidential election, the American left has been calling on Democrats to adopt a program of economic populism in order to lure back working-class voters.

This would be a mistake.

A lurch to the left may not bring back working-class whites but would disappoint middle-class voters who have been joining the Democratic Party in far greater numbers. Read more

Resistance to Trump Is Making Strange Bedfellows

Republican senator Mike Lee of Utah attends the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, March 3, 2016
Republican senator Mike Lee of Utah attends the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, March 3, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Democrats in the United States are heaping praise on Republican senator Susan Collins for taking a stand against her party’s health-care reforms.

The praise is deserved. Collins, a centrist Republican from Maine, refused to support a plan that would have taken health care away from millions of low-income Americans while making it cheaper for the wealthy.

But it’s too bad the left doesn’t extend the same gratitude to conservative purists who joined her.

None of the other supposedly moderate Republicans in the Senate supported Collins in her fight against the rushed effort to replace Obamacare. They all caved to right-wing pressure.

Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Rand Paul of Kentucky held firm. Read more

Democrats Need Not Obsess About the White Working Class

A Donald Trump supporter listens to a speech in Washington DC, January 19
A Donald Trump supporter listens to a speech in Washington DC, January 19 (James McNellis)

Democrats in the United States have obsessed about winning back working-class whites since these voters left the party to elect Donald Trump last year.

Even Ruy Teixeira, the author of the “emerging Democratic majority” thesis which holds that ethnic minorities, women and postindustrial workers will ultimately shift the balance of power away from the white working class, tells New York magazine that Democrats cannot ignore the group.

They may be a shrinking demographic, but he points out they still hold power. If Democrats can’t retain a reasonably solid, if minority, level of support among low-income whites, their electoral arithmetic falls apart, Teixeira warns. Read more

Arizona or Ohio? Two Paths for Democrats

A tramcar makes its way through downtown Phoenix, Arizona, May 24, 2009
A tramcar makes its way through downtown Phoenix, Arizona, May 24, 2009 (Christopher White)

NBC News has a longread about what went wrong for Democrats in 2016 and how they can become competitive again nationally.

The report, written by Alex Seitz-Wald, touches on many of the issues we have written about since Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election in November: how the white working class in big industrial states abandoned Democrats; how the concentration of liberal and progressive voters in cities and coastal states has made it harder for them to win majorities in the Electoral College and the Senate.

Seitz-Wald argues that, unless they decide to muddle through, Democrats must choose whether to take what he calls the “Ohio path” or the “Arizona path” to address these problems. Read more

Demographics Aren’t Destiny: It’s the Choices Parties Make

Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005
Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005 (Thomas Hawk)

In my last post about the demographic shifts that are reshaping America’s two major political parties, I may have given the impression that I see these as unstoppable forces of history that have nothing to do with the choices party actors make.

That’s not the case. It’s both.

Demographic and economic changes, including heterogenization, deindustrialization and the stratification of society along educational lines, are global, long-term and almost impossible to reverse. They have a huge impact on the composition of both the Democratic and Republican Party coalitions.

But the choices Democrats and Republicans make about what sort of party they want to be matter just as much. Read more

Demographics Worked in Clinton’s Favor — But Not Enough

Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21 (Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump’s election has thrown into doubt the assumption that Democrats were emerging as America’s natural ruling party from a confluence of demographic and social changes.

I argued here last month that Trump’s candidacy was accelerating trends that could reshape the two-party system: the consolidation of lower-educated white voters in the Republican Party and the flight of college-educated whites and minority voters to the Democrats.

Many — myself included — predicted that these shifts would hand the election to Hillary Clinton.

That obviously didn’t happen. Was the theory wrong? Read more