The special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is the first major test of the Democratic resistance to President Trump. In one sense, the results of the first round in April were promising for the party. Thanks to an impressive Democratic turnout, Jon Ossoff, the Democrat who advanced to this month’s runoff, almost cracked 50 percent of the vote in a district that’s nearly 10 percentage points more Republican than the nation as a whole.1
The result, moreover, was a reversal of some turnout trends we saw in 2016, when President Trump outperformed the polls on the back of higher turnout in Republican-leaning areas. And if the runoff election on June 20 features a similar electorate, the race will be too close to call.
But the Georgia 6 April primary was a continuation of some 2016 turnout trends too — trends that should worry Democrats. In 2016, turnout among whites was up across the country, and in highly educated areas like the 6th District in the suburbs of Atlanta. This redounded to Democrats’ advantage. At the same time, black turnout was down precipitously, from 66 percent in 2012 to 59 percent in 2016. This black-white turnout gap continued in the first round of Georgia’s special election, where the Democrats got impressive turnout levels from all races and ethnicities — except African-Americans.
Lower black turnout in 2016 might be explained as a reversion to the mean after that group’s historic turnout for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. It’s possible that Clinton could never inspire black turnout the way the first African-American president could. But even if this shift is more of a return to the old status quo, Democrats will still have to grapple with these turnout levels going forward, and there are powerful lessons we can learn from the party’s failure to raise or maintain previous black turnout levels in 2016. Painting Trump as a bigot did not motivate more African-Americans to vote, in 2016 or in the Georgia 6th. Hope and shared identity seem to be much more effective turnout motivators than fear.
In 2018, Democrats may be able to win over and turn out the kinds of white voters who showed up for them in Georgia’s 6th — educated, left-leaning, but usually unlikely to vote in midterms — even as “the resistance” fails to appeal to the African-American community that has been a major element of Democrats’ traditional base. But that strategy is more limited in 2020, when marginal voters are concentrated in African-American and other nonwhite communities, and no candidate has shown an Obama-like ability to reach them.Ruffini explains why blacks are so important for the Dems -- because they vote 90%-plus Democratic. That's 180-proof. Latinos show nowhere near that level of party loyalty. So it takes a lot more Latino voters participating and turning out to vote in elections to make up for the drop off in African Americans.
Yes, things are dire for the Democrats. The Obama Coalition is a thing of the past. If you can't nominate candidates like a Bernie Sanders or a Jeremy Corbyn, lifelong social democrats, then you had better nominate a black man (I don't mean Cory Booker) or a Latino who has some social-democratic credibility. Nominating an Elizabeth Warren is not going to do it. We learned in November that there is no gender solidarity among white women.
With Trump scoffing at the Green voter -- Dakota Access Pipeline, Keystone XL, now Paris -- it is time for Dems to shit or get off the pot. I expect neither.
A "March for Truth" is set for Saturday with a demand of "getting to the bottom of Trump's ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice." Would you give up your Saturday for that? I wouldn't. Why not demand impeachment for illegally bombing Syria?
The Democrats continue to bleed out with little hope on the horizon that the bleeding will stop. Hillary is in the news again for a talk she gave at the spooky Code Conference where she reiterated the belief that her loss to Trump was not her fault. Even Clinton's backers in the mainstream medium are growing tired of this tune. Apparently the final straw was her heaping scorn on the DNC's data operation.
Today Thomas Edsall in "Has the Democratic Party Gotten Too Rich for Its Own Good?" makes a convincing case for the irretrievably oligarchic character of the current Democratic Party:
Can the Democratic Party, as it is currently constructed, maintain its commitment to a redistributive agenda? Put another way, can a political party impose costs on its own constituents, especially those voters who make up the most influential faction of the party: the affluent and well educated?
The preliminary evidence from actual events is that demanding sacrifice poses major risks. Asking people to think of themselves as compassionate and to pay higher taxes is one thing — many Democrats have made that leap — but ask them to live in a mixed income neighborhood or ask them to have their kid give up her spot at Princeton, and you get a different response.
[Richard] Reeves [senior fellow at the Brookings Institution] . . . points to the Democratic uproar when President Obama proposed a relatively modest change in a tax-based mechanism to help pay college costs. The change in what are called 529 College Savings Plans was designed to make the program more advantageous to people with moderate incomes and less so for those with high incomes. An estimated 70 percent of the tax benefits of 529 plans currently go to families with incomes above $200,000.
The moment Obama suggested the reform, prominent Democrats from both the House and Senate were inundated with angry complaints from affluent constituents. They pressured Obama to drop the proposal. In less than a week, he did.
“The idea was sensible, simple, and progressive,” Reeves writes. “The episode was a brutal reminder that sensible policy is not always easy politics.” Reeves noted that two of the leading Democratic opponents of the 529 reform, Nancy Pelosi and Chris Van Hollen, who was elected Maryland’s junior senator in November but was a congressman when Obama proposed it, represented districts where “almost half their constituents are in households with six-figure incomes.”
Perhaps the most problematic issue for affluent Democrats are proposals calling for expanded construction of affordable housing in middle-to-upper-middle class neighborhoods.
When local officials and the courts pressed for construction of relatively small numbers of moderate income housing units in such upscale liberal bastions as San Francisco (Clinton 84.5 percent, Trump 9.2 percent) and neighboring Marin County, Calif. (Clinton 77.3 percent, Trump 15.5 percent), the groundswell of opposition was loud and clear.
Looking at the case of Marin County, Jonathan Rothwell, a senior economist at Gallup, first made the case in a July 2015 Brookings report, Zoning Out The Poor, that liberals have a moral obligation to support desegregation initiatives:
"Segregation is a disaster for the poor. It crushes upward mobility by cutting off resources to essential public goods like quality education. Yet, in almost every city and metropolitan municipality there is a strong entrenched group committed to using political regulations to perpetuate segregation. These people are more commonly known as homeowners."
When officials in Marin County — median home value $815,100, median household income $93,297 — began plans to build affordable housing, the reaction was immediate, Rothwell wrote:
"The Lucas Valley Homeowner’s Association was formed to oppose “high density development." Likewise, the Marin Community Alliance was formed “to protect and preserve the character" of the area."
The response, Rothwell continued,
"is sadly typical. Since zoning’s modern origins in the 1920s, homeowner associations and other groups have banded together to keep racial minorities and non-affluent people out of their suburban municipalities and neighborhoods."