This has alienated the Democrats’ traditional middle-class constituency. Indeed, in a 2013 poll cited by the New York Times’ Thomas Edsall, by a margin of 25 percent, people said Obamacare makes things better for the poor. But when the question was, does it make things better “for people like you,” Obamacare came out 16 points underwater. Moreover, for whites, whose support for Democrats hemorrhaged in 2014, 63 percent thought Obamacare made things worse for the middle class.
That’s how you lose elections, Schumer argued . And forfeit large chunks of the traditional Democratic coalition. Health care was not a crisis in 2009 (nor in 1993 when Hillarycare led to another Democratic electoral disaster); it was an ideological imperative for Barack Obama and the liberal elites in charge of Congress — their legacy contribution to the welfare state.
As are Obama’s current cherished causes — climate change and amnesty for illegal immigrants. These are hardly the top priorities of a working and middle class whose median income declined as much during the Obama recovery as during the Great Recession.
The underlying Schumer challenge is that catering to coastal elites and select minorities is how you end up losing 64 percent of the white working class — which, though shrinking, is almost 50 percent larger in size than the black and Hispanic electorates combined.