The Democrats lost to Donald Trump and may do it again. How did the world’s oldest political party, which has won four of the past seven presidential elections and received popular-vote pluralities in two more, find itself in this pickle?
One symptom of the party’s ailment is that its four top-polling presidential candidates in national surveys are in their 70s and No. 5 is a 38-year-old former mayor of a city of 102,000. Why haven’t others risen? Where are the candidates with demonstrated appeal to critical segments of the electorate? One answer is that over the past decade the Democrats have had a tough time electing candidates beyond heavily Democratic constituencies.
Today, with its four top contenders from the heavily Democratic Northeast—Delaware, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York—it has a similar problem. Delaware and Vermont were competitive states when Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders first sought office in the 1970s. But neither man has faced a competitive statewide race in decades.
Representing a one-party constituency tends to breed habits of complacency, which have been exacerbated by widely circulated prophecies that demographic changes will give the Democrats a reliable national majority.
Democratic strategists—especially whoever advised Hillary Clinton to attack voters as “deplorables”—seem to have assumed that noncollege whites in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa would continue to vote as heavily Democratic as they had between 1992 and 2012. That made some sense: Recent elections had shown unusually small changes in partisan preferences. But the “blue wall” in these states was never very high, and treating voters with contempt was no way to shore it up.
Democrats—voters as well as politicians—suffer from cultural insularity. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues have shown that conservatives are better at understanding liberal views than the converse. That’s not surprising: Whereas liberal views permeate the news media and popular culture, liberals can easily avoid exposure to conservative views. That distorts their view of the world and produces oversensitivity to leftist social-media mobs along with overconfidence in demographic trends.
Read the whole story: Wall Street Journal