NBC, Axios: Tuesday was worse for Dems than they realize

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

In my earlier post, I noted that the retreat of the Democratic Party back to its coastal enclaves and Academia had begun in earnest. NBC News and Axios both have the data to back that up, fresh off of the exit polling from Tuesday’s red wave. Democrats have shed the voters that they managed to glean from the Donald Trump era, and that erosion will not be gradual.

First up, NBC predicts a troubling future for a party married to its radical “faculty lounge,” in the words of James Carville:

But there’s an even more troubling takeaway for Democrats now that the dust has settled on Tuesday’s results: They’re losing white voters, rural voters and voters without college degrees by such large margins that it makes winning elections hard.

Even in diverse and highly educated states like Virginia and New Jersey.

Go figure that calling voters “racists” will eventually convince them to look elsewhere for representation. You don’t have to be “highly educated” to comprehend derision and contempt, although education has apparently been a hindrance to that realization until recently. Onward:

In Virginia, white men made up 36 percent of the electorate, according to the exit poll, and they broke for Republican Glenn Youngkin over Democrat Terry McAuliffe by a 2-to-1 margin, 66 percent to 34 percent. (In 2017’s gubernatorial contest, it was 63 percent to 36 percent.)

White women, who made up 38 percent of voters in Virginia, sided with Youngkin by 14 points, 57 percent to 43 percent. (In 2017, it was just by 3 points, 51 percent to 48 percent.)

Whites without a college degree, representing 36 percent of voters, went for Youngkin, 76 percent to 24 percent. (In 2017, it was 72 percent to 26 percent.)

Let’s put aside the comparison to 2017 and look at Joe Biden’s exit polling last year in Virginia. Biden won women 61/38 and white women 50/49. He managed to get 38% of whites without a college degree. That’s some significant slippage in just one year. But NBC doesn’t feature another interesting shift — Youngkin did better with black voters too, incrementally improving his share to 13% from Trump’s 10% while holding steady on Hispanic voters. The improvement was apparent among both black men and black women, the latter of whom only went 8% to Trump but 13% to Youngkin.

Both the turnout and the shifts occurred without Trump in the mix, Axios points out, which is a signal to both parties:

Lost in the public obsession with former President Trump’s loss, grievances and threats to run again: Non-Trump Republicans have had a strong, yearlong run nationally beneath and around him.

Why it matters: Democrats control Washington and hold sway in most colleges and corporate suites, plus much of the mainstream media. But Republicans are thriving despite Trump’s tactics and antics. …

The bottom line: While Trump himself lost in 2020, he grew his total vote and share of Black men and Hispanics. Republicans are expanding those gains.

It has been an article of faith among some Republicans that only Trump could generate this kind of turnout and realignment. Tuesday’s results directly contradict that, as Trump had little to no relevance at all for either Youngkin or Jack Ciattarelli in New Jersey. Instead, Youngkin focused on state-specific issues and an inclusive campaign designed to appeal to disaffected independents and moderate Democrats, especially parents sick of elitist marginalization in Democratic administrations. Youngkin generated an enormous turnout while making Trump irrelevant.

That’s a big problem for Democrats, who seemed just as convinced as Trump supporters that Trump would be their turnout machine as well. Every other word out of McAuliffe’s mouth was Trump for most of the campaign, and Joe Biden goes out of his way to mention Trump whenever he gets challenged on his own failures. As Republicans are figuring out that they don’t need Trump to get that turnout, Democrats are belatedly realizing that running on Trump doesn’t do a damned thing for them unless Trump is actually on the ticket. Trump’s irrelevance boosted Republicans in these elections and actively damaged Democrats who assumed that was the only issue that mattered to their voters.

What does that mean for 2022? Republicans should follow Youngkin’s playbook and stick to issues that matter, especially for parents who are sick to death of social engineering eclipsing effective education in classrooms. And Democrats had better find an issue other than Trump … and hope Biden somehow discovers competence in the next few months. Otherwise, the midterms might end up making 2010 look like a walk in the park for Democrats.