The Democrats’ Working-Class Deficit | The Nation

It’s no surprise that Democrats are up against it this fall. The president’s party generally does worse in midterm elections. Inflation is at a 40-year high. The mainstream media trumpet that crime is up. And the centerpiece of President Biden’s domestic agenda has been torpedoed by united Republican obstruction—and, until the recently brokered spending deal, by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin III.

But a more long-term difficulty was revealed recently New York Times–Siena College poll: Although they enjoy a 20-point advantage over Republicans among white, college-educated voters, Democrats have a working-class problem—and the climate deal, while welcome, isn’t going to fix it.

Currently trailing the GOP by 12 points, Democrats are becoming the party of upscale urban and suburban voters, while Republicans are beginning to consolidate a multiracial coalition of working-class voters.

A chorus of armchair pundits believe they know who’s to blame. Not Biden, not Democratic centrists, not the gerontocracy that runs the party in the House and Senate, not the party establishment.

“Wokeness,” sputters James Carville, “is a problem, and we all know it.” Ruy Teixeira argues that the left has poisoned the “party brand,” dismissing the idea that campaigning for more gun control and against the assault on abortion and Donald Trump’s “big lie” about a stolen election will save Democrats this fall.

How to make sense of this house of mirrors? After all, Biden is the president, not Bernie Sanders. Nancy Pelosi and Steny H. Hoyer lead the House, not “the Squad” or the Progressive Caucus. Centrists have sabotaged Biden’s economic plan, not the left. Murder rates are up in red and blue states alike—and Biden has called for funding the police more than reforming them. Job creation keeps setting records. Abortion, gun control, and the idea of ​​defending democracy all enjoy majority support—central reasons why Democrats lead among college-educated voters. And if, as the pundits argue, working-class voters feel looked down upon, nothing Black Lives Matter has done has been as poisonous as Hillary Clinton’s calling half of Trump supporters “deplorables.”


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