Insider Democrat 2020 fears chronicled by a sympathizer
A fascinating look inside Democrats' deepest fears about 2020 comes from a Bloomberg columnist. Democrats are afraid of President Trump expanding his voting base to people who haven't voted in recent elections. One of their own has written a highly revealing column about their fears.
Francis Wilkinson, a highly partisan Bloomberg columnist (who calls Trump "a man uniquely unsuited to presidential powers"), goes deep on the Democrats' fears about the 2020 presidential election, focusing on Wisconsin as a crucial swing state. Wilkinson spoke with Democrats in America's Dairyland and comes to the conclusion that dissatisfied former non-voters who may (or may not) decide to vote for the first time in recent elections and support Trump are the key. In "Democrats Face Their Fears in Wisconsin" (read the whole thing — there is a lot of interesting interview data with Democrat insiders), Wilkinson writes:
[W]hat if Trump represents not a last gasp of cultural and racial revanchism but a new wave? What if the trickle of white men who voted for the first time in years in Wisconsin in 2016, despite widespread predictions that Trump's candidacy was doomed, is followed in 2020 by a wave of previously nonvoting white males who conclude that Trump's brand of tribal aggression is at last something worth voting for?
The universe of nonvoters is vast. Nationwide, 4 in 10 of those eligible did not vote in 2016. According to Brookings Institution demographer William Frey, more than 21 million nonvoters in 2016 were non-college-educated white men, Trump's base. In Wisconsin, which is 81% non-Hispanic white, 459,000 non-college-educated white men didn't vote in 2016. Trump won non-college-educated white men nationwide by an astounding 50 points. A modest rise in their turnout in key states in 2020 could swamp the Democratic nominee.
Political campaigns are generally organized to appeal to voters, not nonvoters. Strategists know much more about the former than the latter. Low-propensity voters tend to be low-information voters with weak or nonexistent ties to political institutions and limited interest in politics. But Trump has been politicizing every corner of American life, from consumer brands to social media and even football. With politics inescapable, how many more nonvoters might join the fray?
That question leads to a second catch: In a nation in which confidence in political institutions, including political parties, is grievously injured; in which once-trusted mediating institutions, such as unions, are depleted; and in which millions of voters reject legitimate news and information sources in favor of propaganda (domestic and foreign) — how do you effectively rebut Trump's appeal to low-information voters and encourage them to embrace a Democratic alternative?
Put aside the bias, and it becomes clear that Democrats are worried about the Americans who have gotten the back of the hand from politics, as other groups' claims on help from government have gotten priority, and whose welfare has counted for nothing in trade and other policies. Another expression, from the 1930s, for these voters is "the forgotten man." Back then, such voters were considered New Deal–supporters.
Today, Democrats rely on wealthy and prosperous professionals and dissatisfied minorities, whom the court with preferences. And they fear those left behind to whom they offer no identity group preferences (AKA white males) being roused from their alienation and turning out to support the many who champion their interests.
This makes me wonder if the usual suspects such as "Rock the Vote" will be quite as active in 2020 as they have been in the past, when turnout drives traditionally have benefited Democrats.