Dude, where's my 'emerging Democratic majority'?
John Judis, co-author of the famous 2002 book The Emerging Democratic Majority, positing that we are in for a period of Democrat political dominance, has, in the word of Michael Barone, “recanted.” Schadenfreude may be not the most elevated of human emotions, but it sure is fun. Writing in National Journal, the committed Democrat and Obama supporter (he calls Obama’s Stimulus program that mostly funded government bureaucrats “utterly necessary to stem the Great Recession”) acknowledges that Republicans are gaining an emerging “advantage” (but not dominance).
It turns out that the demographic expansion of minority voting blocs is being offset by three trends favoring the GOP.
1. The white working class (people with no college education) are turning into a GOP stronghold.
2. The white middle class (people with college degrees but no further education) are turning toward the GOP.
3. The millennials, who strongly supported Obama and who Judis thought would stay with the Democrats, are disillusioned and moving toward the Republicans.
Obama and the Democrats appeared to have captured the youngest generation of voters, whereas Republicans were relying disproportionately on an aging coalition. The electorate's growing ethnic diversity also seemed likely to help the Democrats going forward.
These advantages remain partially in place for Democrats today, but they are being severely undermined by two trends that have emerged in the past few elections—one surprising, the other less so. The less surprising trend is that Democrats have continued to hemorrhage support among white working-class voters—a group that generally works in blue-collar and lower-income service jobs and that is roughly identifiable in exit polls as those whites who have not graduated from a four-year college. These voters, and particularly those well above the poverty line, began to shift toward the GOP decades ago, but in recent years that shift has become progressively more pronounced.
The more surprising trend is that Republicans are gaining dramatically among a group that had tilted toward Democrats in 2006 and 2008: Call them middle-class Americans. These are voters who generally work in what economist Stephen Rose has called "the office economy." In exit polling, they can roughly be identified as those who have college—but not postgraduate—degrees and those whose household incomes are between $50,000 and $100,000. (Obviously, the overlap here is imperfect, but there is a broad congruence between these polling categories.)
The defection of these voters—who, unlike the white working class, are a growing part of the electorate—is genuinely bad news for Democrats, and very good news indeed for Republicans. The question, of course, is whether it is going to continue. It's tough to say for sure, but I think there is a case to be made that it will.
Judis can’t bring himself to admit that the policies of Barack Obama have been a disaster, and that, I believe, is the reason support for Democrats is fading. Obama has succeeded in discrediting government spending to ameliorate society’s ills. Obamacare alone has proved the point, but the decline of the economy in the face of massive deficit spending also reinforces the point.
Judis spends little time on the younger cohort of voters, but I believe that the GOP has a great opportunity to turn young people against the Demcoratic Party. They have been the greatest victims of the declinng economic opportunities produced by Obamanomics. And being naturally skeptical of the establishment, now that education and culture are so dominated by the left, their rebellious instincts can be directed toward the party of the left.