The Big Sort in the Democratic Party

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52 Responses

  1. Stillwater says:

    It also could drive home just how small a part of the Democratic base white liberals really are.

    This. Or at at least potentially this. Recently I read that something like 87% of black dem likely voters support Hillary over Bernie. Like you intimated up there, I’m a bit perplexed as to why they support her to the extent they do. Especially when Bernie’s policies appear – at least on paper – to promote the interests of blacks (which shouldn’t be confused with black’s interests, ifyaknowwhatImean) more then hers do. I mean, he’s got a detailed agenda on his .com devoted to this stuff!

    More to the point, tho, I think we’re seeing something akin what’s occurring in the GOP to some extent: a large part of the base becoming disillusioned with “establishment” politics. Bernie is giving a voice to those folks, just like Trump and Palin do for conservatives, albeit quite a bit more coherently.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater says:

      Maybe Sanders speaks for them. The late Julian Bond of the NAACP once remarked that the GOP would do quite well with the African-American vote if they embraced affirmative action. Bond said that there were large innate conservatism to African-Americans.

      Perhaps many African-Americans don’t care as much about reforming Wall Street as they do about being more competitive for Wall Street jobs.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Are you speculating here or is there some grounding for that claim?Report

        • Doctor Jay in reply to Stillwater says:

          I recall Ta-Nehisi Coates making similar claims with regard to the conservatism of black Americans on his blog.

          It is also the case that many of the blacks I’ve talked to are deeply suspicious of avowals of color-blindness, and policy statements such as “addressing economic inequality will automatically help black people”. They have been betrayed by this sort of rhetoric before. For instance, the New Deal definitely excluded blacks.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Doctor Jay says:

            Dr. J,

            I meant the claim that blacks support Hillary because they want better access to an unreformed Wall Street.

            But I hear ya about various reports that blacks are conservative on lots of important issues. That still doesn’t answer why they support Hillary, tho. Or does it?

            Adding: I’ve skimmed over a couple-few articles about why Sanders can’t make headway into the black vote and it seems that the much repeated refrain is that black folks know Hillary and Bernie is an unknown. That could be correct, but it’s still sorta puzzling.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

          Cuomo beat Teachout in the gubernatorial primary by winning the African-American vote. A lot of the more intellectually inclined leftists from affluent backgrounds tend to forget that many working class people or people of color can get highly aspirational in their politics or economics. The leftist faction of the Labour Party made the same mistake with White working class people during the 1970s. What a lot of people want is in on the existing system rather than the reformation or destruction of it.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

            That may be true, but again, why do they support Hillary? What aspirations do they think will be realized in her Presidency?Report

            • North in reply to Stillwater says:

              Probably they are convinced she’s the best bet to beat whatever comes shambling out of the GOP convention slouching towards DC.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to North says:

                Which brings us right back to Bouie’s question that led Saul to write this post: Why are AAs loyal to Hillary?Report

              • North in reply to Stillwater says:

                They think Sanders is one of those white liberal cranks who hasn’t got a serious shot at the nomination and who’d get chewed up and spit out by the GOP if he did get the nod and they really really do not want to see a GOP President.

                And no, I like me some Bill Clinton but I’ve never completely grokked the odd affection my Husband and those of my in-laws’ and AA friends have for Bill and by extension Hillary.

                *edit* I asked my husband. His response “The GOP are fishers and Bill grinned and kicked them in the balls in the 90’s over and over and I like a guy like that.” Make of that what you will.Report

  2. Doctor Jay says:

    Here is a really great lecture on the racial politics happening in this election, given by David Domke, chairman of the University of Washington Communications Department.

    It’s intended for a local audience and sponsored by the UW Alumni Association (of which I am a member). There are lots of Seahawks references, too. Of course, since I met both Jim Zorn and Steve Largent back in the day, those are catnip to me.

    But really, he frames the differences on the racial dimension very well. I would hesitate to embrace your characterization of Sanders’ supporters, I just don’t have the data. It seems plausible, and is dual (a higher math term for “follows a similar pattern but with some things reversed”) to how people on disability tend to be politically hostile to “big government” and “handouts”.Report

  3. Tod Kelly says:

    I feel like much of this is just pundity horseracery. Clinton is going into the primaries with a plurality in the polls and a 16 point lead over her nearest competitor. Yes, Saunders is making noise in New Hampshire, but it’s New Hampshire — which is known for doing wiggy things when it comes to politics.

    It’s hard not to read a lot of this and not think it’s a case of people manufacturing a dramatic storyline in order to get people to click/buy/not change the channel.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      He’s leading in Iowa, too. 🙂Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

        Wake me when he’s close to single digits.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          I’m not sure what you’re arguing here. Is it that support for Bernie doesn’t constitute a fracturing of interests within the Dem party? He’s at 38% nationally (last time I looked) advocating policies that are robustly outside the current status-quo Democratic policy box.

          Or are you saying he won’t win the nomination? (That seems like a different issue than whether the Dem party is sorting along different and new axes.)Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

            I’m saying he won’t win the nomination — and that he won’t even come close.

            As to the rest, none of that seems like news to me. There’s always been a more progressive Jackson/Brown/Edwards to the Clintons, Obamas, and Dukakises, in pretty much every POTUS election I can remember when the Dems weren’t the incumbents. Heck, Nader himself was the exact same dynamic, only there was no way to kick him down before the general because he picked out the party’s progressives from the outside.

            What’s new here isn’t Saunders. He’s existed in different names in every primary. The new thing is the commodification of constant election news for years in advance of voting. And so it just seems like what Saunders is doing is revolutionary, because it has to be reported that way to make it BIG and IMPORTANT and NEVER EVER SEEN BEFORE.

            The real story, I would argue, continues to be that the party anointed a POTUS candidate long before the primaries without bothering to, you know, have a primary or anything. But that’s old news, and no one wants to click on those stories anymore, so now we have the amazing story of a plucky upstart guy with a dream who’s going to lose by near-record number or ballots.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              Hmmm. You and I view these things very differently. 🙂Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              FWIW here is my prediction,

              Sanders wins in New Hampshire, Vermont, and maybe Iowa. He gets truanced in other states that are more diverse. White, college, semi-bohemians will flail for a month and unite behind HRC.Report

            • North in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              I do agree that the news is inflating this out of a desperate need to spin a story out of the matter. in fairness both the Democratic Party and Clinton’s campaign are also abetting this in their own ways. The Dem’s because there’s nothing wrong with ginning up the base and getting eyeballs and the Clinton campaign because managing expectations is a lesson they definitely learned from 2008 (along with keeping Mark Penn far away from everything thank God(ess?)) and they don’t plan on making that mistake again.Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              Why are you doing this “Saunders” thing?Report

            • Morat20 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              The real story, I would argue, continues to be that the party anointed a POTUS candidate long before the primaries without bothering to, you know, have a primary or anything.

              Nope. If the party had that power, it would have been Clinton v. McCain in 2008.

              What happened here was a lot simpler, and doesn’t require shadowy back rooms. Hillary is simply a big enough candidate that the rest of the serious contenders all said “Screw it, I’ll try in 4/8 years”.

              Money, name recognition, network, and came within a whisker of beating Obama in the 2008 primary — the man who went on to effortless spank the GOP two elections in a row.

              Nobody anointed Hillary. She simply ran effectively unopposed, and not because the field was cleared for her by a shadowy cabal or establishment figures. But just because she was the proverbial 800 pound gorilla.

              You don’t have to think she’s a good candidate to acknowledge the political calculus that goes into deciding a run, and that Hillary looks like a particularly tough nut to crack. If you’re younger then her? Better to wait. If you’re her age, you’re running against the Clinton machine — which you saw in the 90s and again in 2008.

              Honestly, I think Sanders is running entirely to keep her honest (as it were) and to promote his message. O’Malley is angling for the next run up, 4 or 8 years from now.Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                O’Malley might want VEEP. that’s the traditional reason someone runs when they’ve got no chance of winning.

                Wonder if anyone’s not running because of the Chris Dodd Effect?

                I think Sanders is a neat bit of kabuki theater, designed to let the Democratic partisans believe that people care about their votes. It neatly lets Hillary sidestep the “she thinks she’s so inevitable that she’s not even going to listen to us”

                People like to think that their votes matter, they like a lively debate about the issues, and they’ll line up to vote for Hillary in the general.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          The latest CNN poll has him up by 8 over Clinton. 🙂Report

      • Autolukos in reply to Stillwater says:

        RCP has Clinton up 3 in the average, though a couple of polls have Sanders ahead.

        The only state poll I see in their list outside of Iowa and NH is a Florida poll that has Clinton +36, which I expect to be similar to her final margin in more diverse parts of the country.

        Edit: They also have North Carolina (Clinton +33) and Maryland (Clinton +13).Report

  4. Kolohe says:

    I don’t think Bouie is right about the late 90s

    There was still a gap between black and white, but the boom resulted in the lowest African American unemployment rate *ever* (ie since that statistic was started in 1972)Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

      Perception matters a lot. Even if the 1990s had the lowest rate of African-American unemployment ever, your going to be miffed if this is mainly in low skill and low paying work.Report

  5. Michael Cain says:

    Bishop, in his The Big Sort, spends a lot of time on geography. How much of Bernie’s problem is simply “white boy without a clue from out in the sticks”? As has been pointed out to me here regularly, despite the rest of the country’s opinion, the Northeast doesn’t see Vermont as being part of the urban corridor. That same tag could quite justifiably be hung on me, as well.

    Slightly related, because I’m woefully ignorant… do blacks in California see themselves as part of the same group as blacks in Mississippi, or Flint, or Bed-Stuy? (Well, Bed-Stuy at least as I knew the fringes of it back in the last 70s.) Or do they think their problems need different solutions?Report

  6. pelez says:

    all democratic average like this …Report

  7. Jesse Ewiak says:

    To be blunt, here’s a lot of reasons for black peoples (and to a lesser extent, other non-white dudes support) for Hillary – they have a lot more to lose. Look, as a straight white guy who lives in Seattle, even though I’m not making all that much money, the actual difference between a Republican and Democratic Presidency won’t effect my life all too much. Hell, I might even get my taxes cut.

    So, why I’m not gung ho for Sanders? Because I’ve got female friends in red states who will feel the affects of cuts to PP and multiple Republican nominees sending Roe (and Casey) to the shredder. I’ve got gay friends who don’t need their marriages invalidated. I’ve got Hispanic friends who have undocumented relatives who will be living in fear, even more than they already do, for their family. Every low income person I know with kids will feel the effects of likely cuts on stuff like SNAP, Head Start, etc.

    Yeah, Sanders could win. But, up against anybody except Kasich (who’s not going to be the nominee) and Rubio (who I only fear of getting the Bush in 2000 kids gloves treatment), Hillary wins walking away agaiinst all the other candidates.

    I also think there’s a distinct difference between slightly older liberlas (30+) who actually remember the Bush Presidency and younger liberals who frankly, don’t have all that much institutional memory of what Bush and GOP Congress did for the first 6 years.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    Hillary has been the presumptive nominee for about 4 years. I imagine that people who knew that they’d be voting for the presumptive nominee for the last 4 years have less reason to keep up with primary politics than people with a lot of leisure time.Report

  9. j r says:

    Here is my overly simplified take. All politics is local. The majority of black Americans live in large U.S.’ cities and in the south. My guess is that Sanders isn’t very popular in the south writ large. In the cities, black politics tends to be machine Democratic politics. Hillary is the machine Democratic candidate.

    Also, Tod is right. Political and social media always like to make it seem like ‘this time is different.’ That may actually be the case in the GOP primary, but I’ve seen nothing to suggest that Sanders is all that much more than this years Nader or Howard Dean.

    If the Sanders campaign picks up steam, then I expect it to pick up steam with black voters as well. Maybe this is just another way of saying that most Sanders early adopters are progressive-minded coastal whites, like him.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to j r says:

      Also, Sanders is greatly helped by the fact that there’s no other competition. Let’s say Hillary decides not to run, is indicted, falls on a banana peel and breaks her hip, etc.

      In a field with O’Malley, Hickenlooper, Gillibrand, Kloubacher, (possibly) Warren, and a variety of other candidates, he gets the 10-15% hardcore liberal vote and possibly not even that. Hell, he might end up being the Mike Gravel Memorial Old Man candidate.Report

  10. Kim says:

    Minorities in general, and blacks in particular are your most conservative Democrats (barring the sliver of rural population which is rapidly dwindling everywhere). Hillary’s cast herself as the conservative choice, both in mien and in policy.

    Blacks tend to be more pro-torture than other Democrats, and Hillary’s a hawk.

    It is possible, folks, that minorities simply like Hillary’s style and policy better than they like Sanders.

    Simply because YOU don’t like Hillary’s more war-prone shading, doesn’t mean she doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing. [n.b.: I’m not convinced a bit of what she’s doing is simply “I’m a woman, but I’m butch enough to be President” — but I do feel it has an appeal]

    Minorities ain’t Pennsylvania voters, who really do go with who’s familiar over everything else.Report

  11. Roland Dodds says:

    I think your observations are generally correct here @saul-degraw. I would add that many white liberals I know (myself included perhaps) went to some of the same universities as the folks now working on Wall Street. There is a distrust of the frat-boy atmosphere of the place, as well as a distrust of capital and those who move it around. But there is also a little anger at the fact that those folks we knew in college now make a lot more money than those of us who went into less lucrative realms of employment.

    I think one can be against Wall Street for entirely rational reasons (I know I am), but I have always suspected a little sour-grapes among well-to-do white liberals towards the like.Report