That Trump won in no small part on the votes of former Obama voters suggests that racism was not the determinative factor in 2016. The left also tends to conflate racism and white identity politics, when the connection is fairly weak. Moreover, linking support of Trump to his stances on race and identity may reverse cause and effect. The left’s rationalization further ignores that Trump otherwise was considered to be a moderate candidate relative to his GOP rivals, despite the number of liberal pundits who recognized it in real time.
Progressives bitterly clinging to the strong version of “emerging Democratic majority” theory are not fighting the last war; they’re fighting the war before the last war. For example, the Trump era has made education (in the sense of white-collar versus blue-collar) more politically salient than it has been in decades, particularly among white voters. In 2018, Democrats won the House largely on the votes of suburban, college-educated whites, particularly women.
In addition to regaining more blue-collar whites Democrats lost in 2016, Democratic campaigns ought to be thinking about how to retain these higher-income suburban white voters. Spoiler alert: proposing multi-trillion dollar programs to transform the economy is probably not how you do this.