From one side, Trump’s overt appeals to white racial anxieties about immigrants, Muslims, and black football players, as well as his derogatory comments about women, inspired unprecedented numbers of minority and white female candidates to seek office as Democrats. “We all know that there is the Trump effect going on among women and people of color, and the sense that there is something very significant at stake, perhaps in a clearer way than ever before, that needs to be fought for,” Carter says.
But from the other direction, the diverse slate of Democratic candidates provides a powerful symbol of social change that may make more white voters receptive to the message of racial solidarity from Trump and other Republicans. In this way, the same underlying force—a political debate that’s more and more centered on questions of national identity and cultural affinity, rather than economic interests—is pushing Democrats toward embracing a changing America and pushing Republicans toward resisting it.
Whatever the results next month, this election will likely be remembered as a crossing-the-Rubicon moment when the diversity of the Democratic candidates for the first time approximated the diversity of the party’s electoral coalition.