New Figures Argue Democrats Should Target College Graduates in Suburbs

Aerial view of a suburb of Austin, Texas
Aerial view of a suburb of Austin, Texas (Shutterstock/Roschetzky Photography)

Amy Walter reports for The Cook Political Report that a Pew Research assessment of the 2016 electorate belies some of the insights we thought we had gleaned from that year’s exit polls:

  • Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump didn’t actually split the white college-educated vote. Clinton bested Trump by 17 points.
  • They did split the white women’s vote, 45-47 percent. Exit polls suggested Trump was more popular with white women.
  • The exit polls probably overestimated the electorate’s share of white college graduates.

The revised figures argue that Trump hasn’t actually lost support from college-educated whites and white women. Fewer supported him to begin with.

The exit polls and Pew’s data do agree that Trump has lost support from white voters without a college education: from 66-64 to 57 percent. Read more

Midterm Elections Likely to Deepen Blue-Red Divide in America

View of the United States Capitol at dusk, December 8, 2011
View of the United States Capitol at dusk, December 8, 2011 (Architect of the Capitol)

Ronald Brownstein reports for CNN that the congressional elections in November are likely to deepen the divide between “blue” and “red” America:

Democrats seem likely to emerge … with a clear upper hand in highly urbanized House seats that are racially and religiously diverse, disproportionately white-collar and secular and connected to the globalized information economy. Republicans, in turn, could remain dominant in districts outside of urban centers that are preponderantly white, heavily blue-collar, more religiously traditional and reliant on manufacturing, agriculture and resource extraction.

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Give America’s Cities the Power They Deserve

View of Columbus Circle in Manhattan, New York at night, December 15, 2007
View of Columbus Circle in Manhattan, New York at night, December 15, 2007 (Thomas Hawk)

Will Wilkinson has another excellent op-ed in The New York Times about the maldistribution of power in the United States between rural and urban areas.

Part of the problem is that America’s federal system gives sparsely populated parts of the country way more power than the cities. That wasn’t such a big problem until the rural-urban divide became partisan. Now the largely white countryside and small towns vote overwhelmingly Republican while multicultural cities elect mostly Democrats. American democracy has been thrown into a crisis of legitimacy and dysfunction as a result.

Our politics is cracking up over the density divide. Big cities and their distinctive interests are suffering a density penalty and need more visibility in our scheme of representation.

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America’s Supreme Court Has Become Too Powerful

Building of the United States Supreme Court in Washington DC, June 12, 2014
Building of the United States Supreme Court in Washington DC, June 12, 2014 (Wikimedia Commons/Laura Choate)

Ezra Klein makes an excellent point in Vox: the stakes of Supreme Court nominations in America are too high.

Candidates serve for life — which, given modern life spans and youthful nominees, can now mean forty years of decisions — and no one knows when the next seat will open.

No other democracy in the world allows judges to serve for life. And in no other democracy is the process of appointing high-court judges so broken. Read more

Divided America, Deadlock in Italy and Catalan Separatists Try Again

An opponent and two proponents of marriage equality demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC, June 25, 2015
An opponent and two proponents of marriage equality demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC, June 25, 2015 (Elvert Barnes)

Anand Giridharadas writes in The Huffington Post that “Woke America” and “Great America” are so offended by each other that they can barely listen to each other anymore.

You are what offends you. Are you more offended by racism, sexism and other -isms or by people offended by those things? By the persistence of white privilege or by the term “white privilege”? By all the men who degraded women or by the implication in the air that it was “all” the men? By the original sin of American slavery or by the idea that your country has an original sin — one for which you are somehow responsible?

Giridharadas argues that beneath the anger of both sides lies pain. The only way to bring people together is to take that pain seriously.

I argued something similar in Quillette a few months ago: the only way to change minds is to empathize and explain. The meaning of democracy is not winning 50 percent plus one vote and then vanquishing your rivals. It’s a process. If we want to avoid splitting into parallel societies that don’t understand, much less care about, each other, then we all need to make the effort. Read more

No Clear Evidence for Either Democratic Strategy, Politics as Identity

Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton gives a speech in Muscatine, Iowa, October 6, 2015
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton gives a speech in Muscatine, Iowa, October 6, 2015 (Hillary for America/Mike Davidson)

The big debate in America’s Democratic Party right now is whether it should attempt to win back working-class whites, especially in the Midwest, who defected to Donald Trump in 2016, or win over more middle-income, suburban voters, some of whom switched from voting for Mitt Romney in 2012 to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I suspect the latter and I’ve made that case recently here and here.

Short version: the interests and views of middle-class, suburban voters align more closely with those of minorities, millennials and the urban upper class, which is the Democratic base, than they do with rural, small-town, reactionary voters, which is the Republican base.

If this is a winning strategy, though, is still up in the air. Nathaniel Rakich point out at FiveThirtyEight that special elections so far support both theses: Democrats have overperformed in the suburbs as well as among white voters without college degrees. Read more

Gun and Immigration Debates Entrench Tribal Divisions in United States

The sun sets on Washington DC
The sun sets on Washington DC (Shutterstock)

Ronald Brownstein writes in The Atlantic that Republicans in his country have become a “coalition of restoration”: older, blue-collar, evangelical and non-urban whites most uneasy about the tectonic cultural and economic forces reshaping American life. Republican lawmakers represent those areas with the most guns and the fewest immigrants.

Democrats, by contrast, rely on a heavily urbanized “coalition of transformation”: minorities, millennials and college-educated and secular white voters, especially women. Democratic voters have fewer guns and live in places with more immigrants.

We can see a similar divide in Europe. On the one hand, inward-looking, typically lower-educated voters living in small towns and the countryside; on the other, cosmopolitan college graduates living in the big cities. Read more