Southern Democrats: An Endangered Species

Southern Democrats

Nate Cohn spotlights the Dems’ huge problem in the South:

The inability of Southern Democrats to run well ahead of a deeply unpopular Mr. Obama raises questions about how an increasingly urban and culturally liberal national Democratic Party can compete in the staunchly conservative South. It raises serious doubts about whether a future Democratic presidential candidate, like Hillary Clinton, can count on faring better among Southern white voters than President Obama, as many political analysts have assumed she might.

The Democrats running in the South on Tuesday night were not weak candidates. They had distinguished surnames, the benefits of incumbency, the occasional conservative position and in some cases flawed opponents. They were often running in the states where Southern Democrats had the best records of outperforming the national party. Black turnout was not low, either, nearly reaching the same proportion of the electorate in North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia as in 2012.

Joel Kotkin examines the demographics of last night’s electorate:

The Republicans actually won among white voters under 30, 53% to 44%, even as they lost 30- to 44-year-olds, 58 to 40. If these trends hold, the generation gap that many Democrats saw as their long-term political meal ticket may prove somewhat less compelling.

If they are losing the middle and working classes, and even some millennials, what are the Democrats left with? They did best in states like California and New York, where there is a high concentration of progressive post-graduates and non-whites, and where many of the sectors benefiting most from the recovery have thrived, notably tech, financial services, and high-end real estate.

Yet these areas of strength could also prove a problem for the Democrats. A party increasingly dominated by progressives in New York, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Seattle may embrace the liberal social and environmental agenda that captivates party’s loyalists but is less appealing to the middle class. Unless the Democrats develop a compelling economic policy that promises better things for the majority, they may find their core constituencies too narrow to prevent the Republicans from enjoying an unexpected, albeit largely undeserved, resurgence.

(Screenshot from the Upshot’s detailed maps of yesterday’s results)