Let’s forget Webb for a moment and take the question a step further. What are the prospects of winning the presidential nomination for a candidate who challenges current Democratic Party strategic orthodoxy? This strategy calls for identity group, rather than class-based, mobilization, on the assumption that turning out single women, the young, and racial and ethnic minorities is more effective than an uphill struggle to revive support in the recalcitrant white middle and working class.
As much as such a shift to a class-based strategy might result in economic policies more beneficial to less affluent Democratic constituencies, and therefore to more votes in the long haul, so far there has been insufficient intraparty pressure to force a change in strategic orientation.
It is not lost on Democratic strategists that President Obama won twice deploying a group-based rather than a class-based strategy. Even if the next Democratic nominee does not inspire the high minority turnout levels of 2008 and 2012, the 2016 electorate will be less Republican than it was in 2012. Every four years, the heavily Republican white share of voters drops by a little over 2 percent, and the disproportionately Democratic minority share grows by the same amount.
There are, however, fundamental problems with the current Democratic strategy, not least of which is that it is a strategy for winning presidential elections but not necessarily for exerting real political control.