Political strategist Charlie Cook has some brutal words for Dems: better win over white Christian heartland voters or else, because they're literally the only voting demographic that matters now.
Simply put, Democrats need to expand their sensitivity-training courses to include people who live in small-town and rural America—middle-class white voters, people who live paycheck to paycheck, and whites who attend church at least once a week. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition of voters is now officially dead. Democrats were losing these voters before Donald Trump came along and will continue to do so beyond his presidency unless they show genuine concern for these constituencies. To be sure, the country is changing and becoming more diverse, but it is not doing so at the same pace everywhere. Democrats are running up the score in places that do not help them win majorities in the House, Senate, and Electoral College.
An analysis by Tyler Fisher and Alyson Hurt for NPR found that Trump won 70.6 percent of the vote from rural counties and places with populations under 2,500 that were not near metro areas, compared to 25.1 percent for Clinton. Trump won 66.1 percent of the vote in small counties that were near metro areas (Clinton 30.1 percent), 65.8 percent in counties with populations between 2,500 and 19,999 not near metro areas (Clinton 29.4 percent), and 66.3 percent in similarly-sized counties near metro areas (Clinton 29.5 percent).
While many Democrats and journalists are busy reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (I personally find the title offensive), far more can be learned from The Politics of Resentment by University of Wisconsin political science professor Katherine Cramer. It is the product of nine years of interviewing rural Wisconsin voters to learn about their anxiety, fears, and resentment of urban America and its elites.
If any Republican candidate in modern history should have done badly with white churchgoers, it was Donald Trump. And yet, exit polls show that Trump carried the 26 percent of the white electorate who consider themselves evangelical or born-again voters by a 65-point margin, 81 to 16 percent. Among the 33 percent of voters of all races who attend church at least once a week, Trump won by 16 points, 56 to 40 percent, and among those who go at least monthly, Trump won by 12 points, 54 to 42 percent. Democrats can take solace in winning people who say they never go to church by 31 points, 62 to 31 percent, but they will be distressed to learn that this group makes up just 22 percent of the electorate.
Democrats worried about their poor showing among churchgoers would be well-advised to read God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by Sojourners president Jim Wallis, whom I would describe as a liberal evangelical. Wallis argues that conservatives have no corner on religion in general or Christianity in particular, but that Democrats are increasingly becoming a secular party while Republicans are becoming the party of people of faith.
In short, Democrats need to get over Donald Trump and the specifics of what happened in 2016 and begin to think about how, in their rush into America’s future, they left behind a large number of voters who are still very much here, right now. To malign these people as bigots, racists, and misogynists ignores the fact that some actually voted for President Obama at least once, have voted for women in previous elections, or have voted for Democrats in the not-so-distant past.
It's complete nonsense, of course. There's no "getting over" a candidate that ran on making people of color into second-class citizens (or non-citizens in the case of Muslim Americans.) The stupidity of "they voted for Obama once can't make them racists" is manifest in this piece, and it's precisely because of the soft racism in so many of these voters who thought Barack Obama was "one of the good ones" that allowed Trump to win.
Most of all Cook is expecting the voters most loyal to the Democrats now to be the least vocal in efforts to court the people who have already demonstrated they are the most easily swayed by white identity politics enough to abandon the Dems when a vicious demagogue like Trump rolls up.
Again, this advice is disastrous. Dems need to stick with the people loyal to the party. As for the rest, well, another economic crisis precipitated by Trump and his goons should open America's eyes. I only hope it won't be too late by then.