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The Democrats’ Nonwhite Working Class Problem
It’s Not Going Away
With all the Democratic back-patting going on, I’m not sure they’re really facing up to an emerging problem that severely undermines their electoral theory of the case. I speak of their declining margins with the nonwhite working class. That’s not to say they don’t still carry the nonwhite working class vote, it’s just they carry it by a lot less. That wasn’t in the “rising American electorate” battle plan.
As I have previously noted, AP/NORC VoteCast estimates the decline in Democrats’ advantage among the nonwhite working class as 14 points between 2020 and 2022, 23 points between 2018 and 2022 and (splicing in some Catalist data, which are consistent with VoteCast data where they overlap) an astonishing 33 point drop between 2012 and 2022.
That’s the national data. It’s interesting to look at the state-level data to see some of these places where this pattern manifested itself.
Arizona. The 2020 Presidential election and 2022 gubernatorial election were both extremely close. Interestingly, while Democrat Katie Hobbs ran quite a bit ahead of Biden among white college voters, she actually ran 3 points behind among nonwhite working class voters.
California. Gavin Newson in 2022 ran considerably behind Biden in 2020. One place where he kept almost all of Biden’s support from 2020 was among white college voters. In contrast, he lost a lot of support among nonwhite working class voters: 14 points.
Florida. Ron DeSantis of course ran way ahead of Trump in his 2022 gubernatorial race—about 16 points. But he ran 27 points ahead among nonwhite working class voters. And he did 38 points (!) better among nonwhite working class voters this year than he did in his initial 2018 gubernatorial race.
Georgia. Brian Kemp ran ahead of Trump in his 2022 re-election, albeit not on DeSantis’ level. But he did 16 margin points better among nonwhite working class voters and, compared to his initial election bid in 2018, also against Stacey Abrams, did 27 points better among those voters.
Pennsylvania. John Fetterman ran almost 4 points ahead of Biden in his successful bid for the Senate. Interestingly, as confirmed by an analysis on 538, he actually did even better than that among white working class voters in the state. But the Fetterman magic did not extend to nonwhite working class voters. He did an astonishing 21 points worse among these voters.
Texas. Greg Abbott ran about 5 points ahead of Trump in 2022. He did even better than that among nonwhite working class voters, running 15 points ahead of Trump across the state.
This pattern did not hold everywhere but it held in enough places to give the Democrats plenty to worry about. And, as noted above, we are now talking about a general trend of fairly long standing.