To recover, Democrats need to take a look at the map. The relevant map in this election divides the nation between coastal America (the West Coast plus Hawaii, as well as the Northeast from Maine to Washington, D.C.) and heartland America (the South, the Midwest and the Mountain West, as well as energy states Alaska and Pennsylvania). Coastal America casts 31 percent of popular votes and 170 electoral votes. Heartland America casts 69 percent of popular votes and 368 electoral votes.
Clinton earned all but one electoral vote (Maine’s 2nd Congressional District) in coastal America. But in heartland America — where Barack Obama lost the electoral vote narrowly, 206–162, in 2012 — Clinton got only 63 electoral votes, compared with Trump’s 305. Yes, Trump won the 46 electoral votes of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin by a combined popular vote margin of only (at latest count) 77,193. But the fact is he didn’t need a single popular vote in coastal America to win.
Democrats are even weaker in heartland down-ballot elections. In races for the House of Representatives, Republicans won more than 200 seats there, compared with only 90 for Democrats. Democrats could win half of the Republicans’ 35 U.S. House seats in coastal America and still fall short of a House majority. In state legislatures, heartland Republicans outnumber Democrats by nearly a two-to-one ratio.
My advice to Democrats is the advice Justice Louis Brandeis gave to young New Dealers in the 1930s. “Get out of Washington,” he said. “Go home, back to the states.” Leave the latte-soaked coastal cocoons. Return to your hometown or set down new roots, and run for office in the heartland — and not in university towns but in real America.